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The Red Water Artesian Well of Shubuta

Located in the small town of Shubuta in Clarke County, Mississippi is an artesian well.

But not just any kind of artesian well. This one pumps red water! And, the water is reportedly potable too, meaning you can drink it. 

The unusual color of the water is due to the harmless minerals that get diluted in the water source giving it the red color instead of being colorless.

For a time, people drank this red water because they believed it had medicinal value. Doctors even advised that the water could help cure gout, rheumatism, constipation, and other digestive ailments.

So what exactly is an artesian well? It’s a pumpless well that’s noted for being able to defy gravity as the pressure alone can make the water rise to the surface. 

A young visitor observes the red water of the artesian well in Shubuta

The residents, however, weren’t always so accepting of the odd-colored water as the medicinal taste and deep tea color was off-putting and was considered to be poisonous.  

Local resident Shannon Green Taylor grew up in Shubuta listening to stories about the well from her grandparents, and in turn hopes her grandchildren enjoy the stories she tells them about the well. 

Taylor considers the well to be a great asset to the town. Her daughter and son-in-law, Samantha and Joseph Skidmore, own Skidmore’s Grill, which is on the same street as the well. Skidmore’s Grill has seen many a visiting customer stop by the well for a sip of water after enjoying a good meal. 

In this respect, Taylor views the well as the “heart” of the town, but sometimes thinks it means more to out-of-towners.  

“The best part has been meeting people whose parents or grandparents lived here and they came to visit it like it was a mystical place from stories they’ve heard,” Taylor said. 

And, as to whether or not the well water is good for what ails you, Taylor can attest that it is.

“We keep a jug of the red water in the fridge to keep heartburn at bay.”

The well is easily accessible and open to the public. It is located at the corner of Eucatta and Station Street, one block east of Highway 145/High Street. There is no charge to visit or to fill up empty bottles with the water. A gazebo now covers the well. 

All photos by Shannon Green Taylor

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Written by Mimi Bosarge

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