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EXPERIENCE JOHN AND WILLIAM BARTRAM’S GREEN WORLD AT WATER WORKS ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION CENTER
Water Works, owned by the City of Palatka, is located at 1101 White Water Drive at the junction of 13th and 15th streets, next to Ravine Gardens State Park, in south Palatka. Water Works is open to the public on Wednesday mornings and the afternoon of the first Sunday of month. Everyone is welcome. Travel to the site by foot, car, or bicycle.
It is possible that John and/or William stepped onto the Water Works property at Palatka during their visits to the St. Johns River. The description the Journal Entries could fit their Palatka landing at a point of high ground with its ancient plantation of Indians or Spaniards. John Bartram’s journal, however, did state that his party “arrived at squire Roll's” (Rolles Town) later that day, which is located around the next bend in the river from 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 hay-day.
After the old water plant was phased-out 100 years later, 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 reflects the name given to William by local Seminole people meaning “flower gatherer”. You can also watch us build a formal Bartram Garden and restore a sandhill habitat, steep-head slope forest, and wetlands, which will feature many of the plants and animals described by the Bartrams, including their “the great land tortoise, called gopher…” . 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.
"Cool hazy morning, thermometer 46 in the open air, (in which all my thermometrical observations up the river are taken). After several miles, [passing] by choice swamps near the river, we landed at a point of high ground, which has been an ancient plantation of Indians or Spaniards; many live oak-trees grew upon it near two foot diameter, and plenty of oranges; the soil was sandy but pretty good; we walked back from the river, the ground rising gradually from the swamp on the right-hand, where grow small ever-green-oaks, hiccory, chinquapins, and great magnolia, and in the swamp grows the swamp or northern kind 18 inches diameter, and 60 foot high, liquid-amber and red-maple 3 foot diameter, elm, ash, and bays; the plants were most sorts of the northern ferns, saururus, iris, pancratium, large long flowering convolvulus running 20 foot high, chenopodium as high, and 4 inches diameter, pontedereia and dracontium…"
Coordinates: 29° 38 ' 4.4196"N 81° 38' 29.7594"W