A Second Shaker Spring


The Harvard Shakers' Miraculous Spring Water



  History & Pictures



Site Visit: August 11, 2002 by Daniel V. Boudillion







The longevity of Harvard Shaker Community was remarkable.  In the 1880ís, the average lifespan of a Harvard Shaker was just over seventy years of age.  It would be another 50 years before the general populace were to equal that.  A casual walk through the Harvard Shaker cemetery reveals an unusual number of long lived community members, and ages in the 90ís are not uncommon.


The Harvard Shakers were in no doubt as to the reason of their extraordinary health and longevity.  They had a special spring from which the entire community drank exclusively.  In fact, they claimed a 16% increase in lifespan from its waters alone. 

   Field Investigation:

In the course of my investigations of this remarkable Spring, I found a second spring and aqueduct on Shaker Land.  It is also located on Oak Hill, directly behind the site of the East Family village.  The path of the aqueduct is still discernable in its entirety, and leads to the site of the former East Family village.  Although I am not aware of any records relating to a spring and aqueduct in relation to East Family, it would seem that this is what it is.


The spring is a marshy area on a small plateau high on the hill.  On my visit in August, it was only muddy and not flowing.  However, it appears from the run-off channels that it still has a high flow rate at wetter times of the year.  Lower down the hill there were still pools and streams.


 The Shakers sunk a stone well into the marshy spring area.  This still exists, and is about 4 to 5 feet deep at this time.  On my visit it was muddy and had an accumulation of natural debris at the bottom.  One wonders if the waters would still be as fresh and pure were the well cleaned of debris and set flowing again. 


The well is sunk into the side of the hill, and about 2 feet down from the lip is a opening for the pipe and aqueduct.  All that remains of the aqueduct is a 6 inch deep by 2 feet wide depression that runs down the hill to Route 2 where the East Family village was.  Near the bottom I found several long rusted pipes.  These had sections that were galvanized - the galvanization process post-dating the Shaker settlement.  I would assume they are refuse from the construction of Route 2. 


If anyone has further information regarding either Spring and their history, I would be pleased to hear from them.  My email address is: dvb@boudillion.com


For my Field Report on the main Shaker Spring, click here.



Old East Family Village Road




Run-off From Spring in August




Shaker Spring




Inside the Spring




Path of Aqueduct




Water Pipes - not from Aqueduct





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Copyright © September/November 2002 by Daniel V. Boudillion