Appalachia Overheard



“Let me get a drink of water. I haven’t had any good water in nearly two weeks.”


You’ll notice the speaker said he hadn’t had any good water. He had apparently had water during the last two weeks, but it wasn’t to his liking.

I’ve read historical accounts about Appalachians and their love of mountain drinking water. In most cases that love was being mocked or belittled.

Pap and Granny had gravity water fed from a spring up the creek until I was in about the 8th grade. I remember Pap worrying about whether the water in the well he was having drilled would be as good as what we were used to. I also remember his great happiness when he deemed the well water excellent.

Water is the sustenance of life. It only makes sense to me that you’d want it to taste as good as possible.



Overheard: snippets of conversation I overhear in Southern Appalachia


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  • Reply
    Rev. Rose Marie "RB" Redmond
    November 7, 2015 at 9:43 pm

    I know exactly what you’re talking about. When we were kids, our dad had a hunting camp up in Forest County, PA. It was far too rural for city water (thank God), and had a shack out back instead of inside plumbing. Dad worked at a dairy in Erie, and when we went to the camp, he had some milk cans he’d gotten from the dairy that we’d take to the nearest spring pipe. They came out of the side of a hill there on the side of the road and emptied into a small concrete catch in the ditch, and it was the best tasting water ever.
    Many many years later, I was driving with friends in North Georgia (going from Dahlonega toward Helen) and saw a pipe sticking out of the side of a hill. I made them stop, filled my coffee mug and drank that blessed water, while my friends all gasped (city kids) thinking saying over and over that it was someone’s sewer pipe (as though you could run a sewer pipe out of the side of a hill into a ditch. smh)
    They wouldn’t even try it. I felt sorry for them.
    When hard times come, we’ll know what those pipes are for, and the fussy city folk won’t which’ll be very very good –
    More for us. ;o)
    God bless.

  • Reply
    November 7, 2015 at 12:40 am

    I’m in Tennessee now, and could sure use that cute hat! I’m not sure whether to drink the well water, though, as it has a lot of iron in it.

  • Reply
    Phyllis S
    November 6, 2015 at 9:48 pm

    Noticed that I have the very same quilt that is in the picture
    today with the lovely lavender hat. Thought you would
    enjoy that. Got mine at WalMart about 15 years ago and even
    tho its on my bed every day, still looks very nice.

  • Reply
    November 6, 2015 at 7:55 pm

    Oh yes…”good” water can’t be beat! I grew up on well water, and we have a well on the farm. I can hardly drink the chlorinated water when we visit friends in the city!

  • Reply
    C. Ron Perry, Sr.
    November 6, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    We have a well here in Frederick, Maryland and the water is great. I hate the thought of moving someday to a location where that might not be the case. Great photo with the glass to her ear.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    November 6, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    Something I forgot. There is an attachment to water from ‘the home place’.
    Why else would it say in 2SAM 23.15. And David longed, and said, Oh would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate. ?

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    November 6, 2015 at 3:00 pm

    Oh how I’d love a GOOD drink of water. As a child, I remember our family driving up to Hiawassee Dam and going along the bank to a wooded area where there was a spring. Someone had fashioned a “dipper” from a small jar with wire twisted around the neck and forming a handle. Best water ever! Is there anything Granny doesn’t know how to make. Cute hat and lovely quilt.

  • Reply
    Edwin Ammons
    November 6, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    You have to take the period away from the end of Cheryl’s link to see it.

  • Reply
    November 6, 2015 at 2:07 pm

    Love reading all these stories…I grew up on a farm in Texas, and always had well water…don’t remember how good it was…now in the city, I drink bottled water…Love the hat, and I certainly would wear it….
    Maybe I need one…Thanks for the offer…

  • Reply
    Margaret Johnson
    November 6, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    My Mother and Father were both born and raised in the Habersham and Banks County area of N. Georgia, and moved to Jackson County in NC around 1945, long before I was born. We visited our GA relatives several times a year when I was growing up and the one thing my Father would always take with us was water. He would always say the water in GA was not fit to drink. He said this having been born there and living a good part of his adult life there. My parents loved NC and are both buried in a “cemetery” in Jackson County. I would love to have one of Granny’s hats!

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    November 6, 2015 at 1:31 pm

    I grew up on Spring Water, never would freeze up in the winter, and ran all the time. There’s nothing like it! And today I still have Mountain Water, part of the
    same property, only out of the branch. My water comes from way up on the mountain to a Reservoir and 1700 feet of underground piping. Nothing is above that. About every 6 months I clean out the Reservoir and water Pick-up hole. I remember living in Atlanta for a few years, working and going to a trade school. The city water there looked like an Alka-Seltzer in a glass, so you had to let it settle awhile, then hold your nose and drink…Ken

  • Reply
    Edwin Ammons
    November 6, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    Have you heard that the best way to tell how good your water is is to look in the spring. If you find spring lizards and crawdads it is good water. The more the better. Some people might say yukkkk but they help keep the spring clean. And if the water is bad they won’t stay. Call it Natural Water Quality Testing and Control.
    Sometimes though, your little helpers crawl into the pipe, get stuck and die. That stops the flow. Then you have to find the blockage. If you have 1500′ of pipe it can quite a chore. They usually get stuck at the connectors.

  • Reply
    Pamela Danner
    November 6, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    Mountain water is the best! When we used to come up from Florida my Uncle would take us up to a spring near Copper Creek to get some water. I have to say where we live now the water is not good at all, I complain all the time saying there’s something wrong with this water! Adorable hat, love the color!

  • Reply
    Edwin Ammons
    November 6, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    Way back up on the right fork of Wiggins Creek, just below the gap that crosses over to Wesser Creek, there is an old house site. Off to the right of it is a well worn narrow trail that slopes around the side of a small but deep ravine. At the end of the trail is a little cliff with a two foot wide ledge you can walk out on. At the middle of the ledge on the uphill side there is a tiny waterfall, it’s stream about the size of a child’s pinky finger. It falls about three feet into a little plunge pool that sits on a smaller rock ledge. The little pool looks like an oblong bowl with a v-groove cut into it and holds about a quart of water at most. The pool is about thigh high to me. Just a reach above and to the right is a tiny ledge just big enough for a glass dried beef jar. The little jar was there when I first discovered the place. It disappeared and had to be replaced but with another little dried beef jar. You can scoop water from the bowl if it don’t have leaves in it which is most of the time or catch water from the waterfall. I used to cock my head sideways and let the water run into my mouth. I couldn’t do that now because my neck pops and cracks. I’m afraid it might lock up on me.
    I grew up on gravity fed spring water but have been on well water since except about 6 months when we had city water. I couldn’t drink it and it burned my eyes in the shower.
    I hardly drink water any more except in juice and buttermilk. And I have a machine in the kitchen that I like to use that filters it through some dark drown granules and a fluted edged round piece of thin paper. This imparts a color and flavor to it that I really enjoy. The water filter I bought was on sale at Wally World for $9.99.

  • Reply
    Annette Casada Hensley
    November 6, 2015 at 12:17 pm

    I’ve lived in many regions of the USA and have never found water that compares to WNC water. The water we had on a military base outside Yuma, AZ wasn’t even drinkable for health reasons. We had to have bottled water. The second worst water I experienced was in eastern Tennessee. Ugh! I’m lucky that my Michigan water is pretty good but still not as good as WNC!

  • Reply
    Cheryl Soehl
    November 6, 2015 at 12:07 pm

    Well, we here in Columbia, SC are not taking our water for granted these days after our horrific flooding. We had to use bottled water or boil what came out of the tap for over a week! My mother used to drive to the Healing Springs in Blackville, SC to fill up containers from the spring there. The owner of the property actually deeded the spring to God so that anyone could come and be healed by drinking the water there. Here’s a link to the story: Love the hat! I am learning to make knitted hats and still struggle with using the double pointed needles to finish. Is there a pattern for Granny’s hat?

  • Reply
    John Faircloth
    November 6, 2015 at 11:41 am

    My student churches were near Max Patch Mountain in Madison County, NC.
    The Deacon who prepared the Lord’s Supper each Sunday lived above the creek and took her water from a spring 150 ft above the house, up the mountain. Prettiest water I have ever seen. She would have me (the preacher), for dinner, and then we would sit around the stove in her kitchen and visit while she brushed her teeth with her mixture of snuff and cocoa powder. Sweet, devoted soul.

  • Reply
    scott stephens,,,
    November 6, 2015 at 11:38 am

    Tipper I always enjoy every ones comments but especially the ones about the water…being form eastern Ky,,we lived in several places with different flavors of water ,, I mean city water drilled well water, dug well water…and privately drilled with electric pump…there was one place that the water was heavy with sulpher which had the most horrendous taste,,,but the most memorable was one place way out in the country where all we had was a dug well,,, pulled it up in a mllk bucket with a chain…but the water had the most purest taste ever… there is nothing a refreshing as a good cold drink of pure water…

  • Reply
    Greg Whitney
    November 6, 2015 at 10:28 am

    I was raised in Cleveland Ohio with city water and never realized how good well water could taste.
    We’ve recently relocated to a great rural area and our well is fed by an underground spring and tastes great.
    I actually feel healthier and have been sick less often. There’s definitely something to be said for county living!

  • Reply
    November 6, 2015 at 10:03 am

    Hi! I’m from Texas and I love your blog! The only spring water I’ve drank came from a plastic bottle at the store 🙁 … My loss for sure! Love the hat – did you make it?

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    November 6, 2015 at 9:56 am

    The water in my town is considered undrinkable by lots of folks. They either
    get water softeners for their kitchens or buy bottled water, both of which are expensive. I have always drunk the local water and think it is just fine. When my son moved away from here, he said he missed the water — that the water in his new town didn’t have any FLAVOR!

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    November 6, 2015 at 9:49 am

    We love our well, you can hear it flowing when the cap is off…It is an underground flowing spring and pools in a small area just the size needed for the pump…imagine the delight when we hit water below our little mountain at 85 feet…After drilling a little bit further, the drillers let it flow for several days to divorce the water…you folks familiar with well drilling will know the terms…we had the best water and still do. Cross my fingers and toes…Only problem we’ve had was lightning running in and messing up the underground pump…
    The taste difference between water with the germ destroying chemicals plus added fluorine of city water is mind boggling….We have our water tested on occasion…but there is nothing around us, cattle, septic systems, businesses that would run off into the well….We hope to preserve our good water!
    I am sure this person, wanted a taste of good spring water….not the various chemical tastes of city water. Ewwww!
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS…I’d take the hat….however, I might have to enclose it in a “baggie” so it wouldn’t get wet on this rainy day! You know that would be a “Granny thing” to do….I have seen my grandmother do that very thing, only with a saved bag from the dry cleaners! Ha
    I guess in exasperation at something I did or said….my Grandmother would say, “Beverly, you take the hat”! I wonder where that expression came from?

  • Reply
    November 6, 2015 at 9:39 am

    I find this an interesting post due to the fact I just visited a second cousin yesterday who I had never met before. She lives in the mountains of Nelson County, Virginia and uses only spring water piped into her house. There was also a pipe in her back yard with water running into a water basin. It was really good!
    Nice hat!

  • Reply
    Roy Pipes
    November 6, 2015 at 9:36 am

    We used water from a spring that once supplied the old tenant house on Grandpa’s farm. We used it several years until a draught in about 1994 or 1995. We then had a 800 foot well drilled. We use the water, but it has to be treated for iron, and we have to buy bottled water to drink.
    A good drink of cold spring water is worth a lot these days. We used to stop along the roadway where pipes carried water for people to drink, but generally these are gone because of contamination.

  • Reply
    Sallie R. Swor
    November 6, 2015 at 9:16 am

    Our spring in Sequatchie Valley, TN was more than a source of delicious, cool water for our family. We shared with the “road crew” who worked on the mountain highway, too. Water running through the spring house preserved milk and butter. In later years it kept Daddy’s homemade wine (with a lock on the door of course). Somehow watermelon tasted so much better after being chilled in the spring water. We enjoyed family dinners in the yard nearby where cousins played in the branch or “creek”, home to “crawdads”, minnows, spring lizards. and more. In his retirement years it even provided fresh water for trout Dddy raised and learned to spawn with only his ingenuity, research and 10th grade education. The “city water” I have now is certainly not the same.

  • Reply
    November 6, 2015 at 9:13 am

    An old well that provided water to this house for close to a hundred years is still standing a few feet from my back door. The use of chemicals on the ground in this area has kept me from drawing a drink of water for about twenty five years. I never tasted city water until I got married and moved to Michigan.

  • Reply
    November 6, 2015 at 8:53 am

    We had a dug well at home growing up, when we got married we lived in Decatur, and had city water, man that was hard, at first to get use to.. When we’d go back to visit, the water I had growing up was so good, it had a lot of minerals in it and seemed thicker.. My wife grew up with rust water and neighbors had rust and sulphur water now that is hard to get use to, not only was it gross looking, it stunk, her father had a huge filter installed to collect the rust, but still everything was dingy,, they were glad when the local water dept. was formed and clean water was available.. We are on city water here, but we filter it, the chlorine, and what ever they put in it is still awful.. O yea the hat would look good on our Daughters head.. Have fun tonight..

  • Reply
    November 6, 2015 at 8:39 am

    Granny just has the talent for hat making. Maybe I’ll be lucky and win it. I agree that mountain water is definitely the best. City water has a lot of unnatural ingredients in it required by law. I am always thankful for a glass of wonderful clear water. Happy Friday!

  • Reply
    Patti Tappel
    November 6, 2015 at 8:36 am

    My mother in law has the best tasting well water I’ve ever had. As for bad water we had some in Iowa at an aunt’s house that smelled so bad of rotten eggs we never would drink there again.

  • Reply
    Leilani Worrell
    November 6, 2015 at 8:36 am

    When I was about 16, my family acted as caretaker for a 60+ herd of Angus cattle, plus a (then-new-to-America) Charolais bull calf. We had spring water in the house, and it was the sweetest water I ever tasted! Nowadays we have a well and drink filtered water and it’s still good, but can’t compare with the spring water. There was also a “pond” on the ranch made from a left-over beaver dam; we would walk across the ranch to play around it, and there were blackberry bushes 6 feet tall and about 30 feet long — we came back from the pond numerous times with purple faces and hands having “et” our fill of berries!

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    November 6, 2015 at 8:21 am

    Spring water is the best. I did not realize how lucky we were in the mountains to have such delicious water until my husband’s sister moved to another state. I found out that pure, cold, sweet water is not necessarily a normal thing. But it is another blessing to be thankful for.

  • Reply
    barbara Gantt
    November 6, 2015 at 8:02 am

    Beautiful hat. I never learned to do those kind of things. Tried to learn tatting from my Grandmother. I was always better in the kitchen. Barbara

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    November 6, 2015 at 7:50 am

    Tipper–Mountain springs are, for folks with roots running deep in the high country, a meaningful and enduring link to the good earth. Daddy, in his fond recollections of growing up on the headwaters of a small branch in what is now the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, invariably mentioned the spring, spring house, sweet and icy cold water, and how it figured in the life of his family.
    You know about that spring, having been one of the group who bushwhacked the country mile to that spring after Daddy’s funeral service and, as a tribute to a mountain life well lived, drank from that cold and pure water that had served his family well at the beginning of his one hundred-plus earthly years.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    November 6, 2015 at 7:30 am

    Moving into a house with well water!! I can’t stand city water. The hat is so cute, and the quilt is gorgeous!!

  • Reply
    November 6, 2015 at 7:23 am

    Love my well water. When I visit family with “city water” the taste to me is nasty.
    The best water was from the spring at my grandmother’s home. I begged to go to the spring and carry buckets of it up the hill. Her house is gone now.
    We had to always be on the look out for snakes.
    Does any one know what a pilot snake is? My granny would tell me she ” kilt” one to be on the lookout for another. Where there was one there was another near by. That went for copperheads also.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    November 6, 2015 at 7:21 am

    When we first bought our cabin out off 294, the water was awful. I had always thought mountain water was the best in the world not realizing it wasn’t universally so. $1500.00 later and a whole house filter we did end up with the best water. Spring water must have been delightful

  • Reply
    Barb Wright
    November 6, 2015 at 7:19 am

    The farm I live on (and grew up on) has several good springs. The one that feeds the old farmhouse is so good! My brother is the lucky one to have that..we built a little ways down the road and had to drill a well. It is good,but not as good as that spring! I love the hat!!

  • Reply
    eva nell mull wike, PhD
    November 6, 2015 at 7:19 am

    Well Tipper, nothing would please me more than to make it tonight for the performance. But we are obligated her in Ktown! Loved the beautiful hat! Maybe I will win it!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    November 6, 2015 at 7:17 am

    Love that hat!!!

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