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The county's springs have a rich history. Windsor Spring was President Taft's favorite water source, and Turknett's Spring in Pendleton King Park provided water for Augusta's first piped system.
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Springs have provided
plenty of water for Augustans

By Aimee Edmonson
Staff Writer
Web-posted June 21, 1996 at 4 p.m.

One of Augusta's best resources is one of its oldest. And it's underground.

Fresh water springs gurgling up from the vast aquifer beneath the Augusta area have not only quenched the region's thirst, but also have contributed to its history.

President William H. Taft took along plenty of Richmond County spring water on his trips to Panama to ward off ``Montezuma's revenge.''

The county's springs have a rich history. Windsor Spring was President Taft's favorite water source, and Turknett's Spring in Pendleton King Park provided water for Augusta's first piped system.

Windsor Spring is still a popular supplier of drinking water as is Flowing Wells Spring. Before the creation of piped water systems, many more were used for drinking and washing.

Today, a number of them have been covered by buildings, asphalt roads and parking lots.

``There's no telling how many developed springs there were,'' said Augustan Michael C. White, author of Down Rae's Creek and Waterways and Water Mills, which will be released later this month.

``For years, families used the springs closest to them because they were all clean. There could have been hundreds utilized and just never documented,'' said Mr. White, 25.

Perhaps the best-known spring still in use is Windsor Spring. British troops used the spring off present-day Tobacco Road and camped nearby. They named the area after Windsor, England, according to a paper by Francesca M. Boerner, who studied the area in the 1970s.

Former owners of the land included Augusta's first mayor, Freeman Walker, who built a home there in the 1800s. The land stayed in that family until George M. Clarke bought the company and land in 1907.

The Windsor Spring Water Co. had been established two years earlier and flourished under the Clarke family.

With 100 to 200 bottles of the water being sold daily, the spring water became known as ``the drinking water of Augusta,'' according to Ms. Boerner's paper. It also was shipped to Savannah, Charleston and Aiken.

At the time, doctors gave testimonials that the water was ``especially adapted for use in the disorders and diseases of pregnancy'' and ``efficacious in cases of nausea and summer complaints of children.''

Ella Nuite, daughter of Mr. Clarke, still lives on the property and sells the water to customers who have been coming back for years.

Turknett Spring, near Heard Avenue in the wooded section of Pendleton King Park, was the source for Augusta's first piped water system in the 1820s. City engineers thought of taking water from the Savannah River above the city, but the river was too muddy . Turknett's Spring was chosen because it was so clear, Mr. White writes in his second book.

Water was brought down from the spring by wooden pipes made of bored logs that were joined with cast iron couplings.

The unnamed spring that creates Rae's Creek is a significant spring in the county - thanks to the international fame of Rae's Creek brought on by the Masters Tournament. The springs are behind Day Spring Baptist Church on Frontage Road off Wrightsboro Road.

Nearby is Flowing Wells Spring, which is on Wrightsboro Road past Bobby Jones Expressway. The artesian well was built to provide drinking water at Sue Reynolds School at the top of the hill in the 1930s.

Enclosed in a tiny brick structure with water flowing from a pipe to the outside, Flowing Wells has been a popular spring for years. Augustans best remember the old swimming pool fed by the spring.

Originally from Illinois, the Murray family built a pool lined with wood and filled by the spring.

The Murrays also distributed the spring water through their company, Flowing Wells Water Co., in the 1930s and '40s.

Many Augustans still come regularly to fill their cars full of their own five-gallon jugs to collect the free water.

``Some people said it had healing power, but of course it doesn't. I've drank too much of it,'' says Harold Dye, 66, who was a lifeguard there as a teenager.

A less well-known spring feeding Rae's Creek is Fox's Spring, southeast of Walton Way Extension near Fox's Spring Road. John Fox developed the springs and settled there in the 1780s, making it his family homestead and gardens, according to Mr. White's book.

Mr. White hasn't been able to track the exact spot, however.

``I know it's somewhere west of Daniel Village. Someone could have it in their backyard,'' he said.

Water from Flowing Wells Spring can be collected from a pipe extending from a small brick building. The artesian well was built to provide drinking water at Sue Reynolds School in the 1930s.

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