It is possible that John and/or William stepped onto the Water Works property at Palatka during their visits to the St. Johns River. It is possible that the Bartrams visited the site on December 25, 1765. The landing at a point of high ground with its ancient plantation of Indians or Spaniards fits a landfall in Palatka.
This 9-acre Water Works Environmental Education Center includes White Water Branch, a small stream that originates in several seepage springs at the Ravine Gardens State Park. This stream was the original source for water collection that was developed by the City of Palatka in 1886 to provide the residents with a reliable domestic water supply and fire protection. Water Works facility with the addition of several wells was capable of pumping up to a million gallons/day during its heyday.
After the old water plant was phased-out the Palatka City Commission designated the Water Works facility as an environmental education center to furnish residents with a tranquil place for reflection, community activities, and experiential learning through informative exhibits, walking trails, natural habitat demonstration areas, and special projects.
Water Works has included many Bartram features. Visitors can walk the forested Puc-Puggy Trail and find any number of Bartram’s plants. The trail’s name bears the name given to William by local Seminole people and means “flower gatherer”. A formal Bartram Garden, restored sandhill habitat, steep-head slope forest, and wetlands, featuring many of the plants and animals described by the Bartrams, including their “the great land tortoise, called gopher…” are under construction. Exhibits also feature plants raised by the local plantations during the British period along the St. Johns River, including indigo plants accompanied by a display of the vats used for the extraction of this valuable blue dye.
Bartram Trail Site Marker 6 is located at the entrance of the Water Works, is located at 1101 White Water Drive at the junction of 13th and 15th streets, next to the Ravine Gardens State Park, in south Palatka. Water Works is owned by the City of Palatka and is open to the public on Wednesday mornings and the afternoon of the first Sunday of month. Everyone is welcome. Access to the marker and the site is by foot, car, or bicycle. There is presently no River access to the site (except for alligators) (Figure 1).
Resources and Links
Palatka Water Works Education Center Website:
Coordinates: 29° 38.073’N 81° 38.586’W