Monday, June 30, 2014

Episode 220 (6-30-14): A July 4th Look at the River Origins of Virginia's Signers of the Declaration of Independence


Click to listen to episode (3:44)


TRANSCRIPT


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of June 30, 2014.

This week, in honor of the upcoming Independence Day, we feature a musical history mystery.  Have a listen for about a minute to a medley of music about three rivers of great importance to Virginia, and see if you can guess what group of seven, key Virginia colonists all had birthplaces and fortunes based on rivers.


MUSIC


If you guessed Virginia’s signers of the Declaration of Independence, you’re right!  The medley included parts of “All Quiet Along the Potomac Tonight,” played by Chloe Benner and Stewart Scales; “James River Blues,” by Old Crow Medicine Show, from their 2006 album “Big Iron World,” and “James and York Bluffs,” by Timothy Seaman, from his 1998 album “Celebration of Centuries.”  Because ships were the major means of transportation and commerce when colonial Virginia was developing in the 17th and 18th centuries, the Potomac, James, York, and other large rivers were the locations for settlements and for the plantation homes of wealthy and prominent families.  Such families produced the Virginia men who signed the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia in 1776.  Those men, and the rivers that sustained their birthplaces, were Carter Braxton, the Mattaponi River; Benjamin Harrison, the James River; Thomas Jefferson, the Rivanna River; brothers Francis Lightfoot Lee and Richard Henry Lee, the Potomac River; Thomas Nelson, Jr., the York River; and George Wythe, Back River, a Chesapeake Bay tributary in present-day Hampton.

Thanks to this week’s musicians for permission to use their week’s music, and let’s look forward to July 4 with about 15 more lively seconds of “James River Blues.”

MUSIC


For other water sounds and music, and for more Virginia water information, visit our Web site at virginiawaterradio.org, or call us at (540) 231-5463.  From the Virginia Water Resources Research Center in Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.

SHOW NOTES

[All Internet addresses mentioned were functional as of 6/30/14]

Revolutionary War Continental Army recruiting poster, circa 1776, from the Library of Congress, accessed online at the “Historical Background” section of the National Park Services’ “Signers of the Declaration” Web site, http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/declaration/introa.htm.


Acknowledgments
“All Quiet Along the Potomac Tonight” was performed by Chloe Benner and Stewart Scales, used with permission.  More information about Mr. Scales and the group New Standard is available online at http://newstandardbluegrass.com.  Another version of “All Quiet Along the Potomac Tonight,” by Bobby Horton, was featured in Virginia Water Radio Episode 101 (3-5-12).

“James River Blues” and “Big Iron World” by Old Crow Medicine Show are 2006 copyright Nettwork Records, used with permission.  More information about Old Crow Medicine Show is available online at http://www.crowmedicine.com/.  “James River Blues” was used previously in Virginia Water Radio Episode 166 (6-17-13).

“James and York Bluffs” and “Celebration of Centuries” are copyright 2005 by Timothy Seaman and Pine Wind Music, used with permission.  Mr. Seaman’s Web site is http://www.timothyseaman.com/.  “James and York Bluffs” was used previously in Virginia Water Radio Episode 173 (8-5-13).


Virginians who signed the Declaration of Independence, along with their birthplaces, were as follows:
*Carter Braxton, born at Newington Plantation on the Mattaponi River in King and Queen County;
*Benjamin Harrison
, born at Berkeley Plantation on the James River in Charles City County (James River);
*Thomas Jefferson
, born at Shadwell on the Rivanna River in Albemarle County (part of Goochland County at the time) (Jefferson also lived from about age 2 to about age 9 at Tuckahoe Plantation on the James River);
*Francis Lightfoot Lee, born at Stratford Plantation on the Potomac River in Westmoreland County (brother of Richard Henry Lee);
*Richard Henry Lee, born at Stratford Plantation on the Potomac River in Westmoreland County (brother of Francis Lightfoot Lee);
*Thomas Nelson, Jr., born at a York River plantation in Yorktown;
*George Wythe, born a plantation on Back River in Elizabeth City County (now Hampton).

Sources for this episode
Charles A. Grymes, “Virginia Places,” online at http://www.virginiaplaces.org/.

National Park Service, “Signers of the Declaration of Independence—Biographical Sketches” online at http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/declaration/bioa.htm.


Web site for Berkeley Plantation (birthplace of Benjamin Harrison), http://www.berkeleyplantation.com/.


Web site for Stratford Hall (birthplace of Francis Lightfoot Lee and Richard Henry Lee), online at http://www.stratfordhall.org/.


Web site for Monticello/Shadwell (birthplace of Thomas Jefferson), http://www.monticello.org/site/research-and-collections/shadwell.


Web site for Tuckahoe Plantation (home of Thomas Jefferson as a young boy), http://www.tuckahoeplantation.com/.
For more information the Virginia’s signers of the Declaration of Independence:
Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, “Encyclopedia Virginia,” online at http://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/.



Virginia Water News and Other Information
            For news, events, and resources relevant to Virginia's water resources, grouped into categories, please visit the Virginia Water Central News Grouper, available online at http://vawatercentralnewsgrouper.wordpress.com/.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Episode 219 (6-23-14): Water Well Construction is an Ancient and Modern Human Endeavor

Click to listen to episode (2:42)

TRANSCRIPT

From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of June 23, 2014.

This week, we feature another mystery sound.  Have a listen for about 10 seconds, and see if you can guess what’s making this rattling and humming sound.  And here’s a hint: think deep into human civilization, and you’ll guess well enough.

SOUND


If you guessed, drilling a water well, you’re right!  That was the sound of a well-drilling rig in June 2014, working through 100 to 200 feet of limestone bedrock to reach groundwater for a residence in Montgomery County, Virginia.  For thousands of years, humans have been developing ways to dig below the earth’s surface to reach groundwater aquifers.  Hands and hand-tools were the first well-digging methods, of course, and still today relatively shallow and wide hand-dug wells remain important in developing parts of the world.  Drilling allows deeper and narrower wells, and in the United States, water-well drilling dates back to the early 1800s, at that time using a method that originated in China and had been in use some 4000 years.  Since then, many different drilling methods and machines have been developed to adapt to the various geological conditions drillers encounter and to make drilling more efficient.  Modern well drillers also must follow regulations intended to prevent groundwater pollution that could threaten public health or the environment.  In Virginia, that tradition dates back at least to 1610, when the Colony of Virginia’s first sanitation law required that, quote, “no man or woman...make cleane, any kettle, pot, or pan, or such like vessell within twenty foote of the olde well.”  Thanks to Blacksburg well-driller Wayne Fenton for permission to record this week’s sounds.

For other water sounds and music, and for more Virginia water information, visit our Web site at virginiawaterradio.org, or call us at (540) 231-5463.  From the Virginia Water Resources Research Center in Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.

SHOW NOTES
[All Internet addresses mentioned were functional as of 6/23/14]

Top: Well-drilling rig.  Bottom: Rotary drilling and the  mixture of soil, rock, and water being brought to the surface.  Both photos taken at a Montgomery County, Va., residential well-drilling project by Fenton Well Drilling and Pump Service of Blacksburg, Va., June 20, 2014.


Acknowledgments
The sounds in this episode were recorded on June 20, 2014, at a residential well-drilling site in Montgomery County, Va.  Thanks to Wayne Fenton, owner of Fenton Well Drilling and Pump Service in Blacksburg, Va., for permission to record his work that day and for providing information for this episode.


Sources for this episode
Information on the past and present of water wells was taken from the following:
Groundwater and Wells, Second Edition
, by Fletcher G. Driscoll (St. Paul, Minn.: Johnson Screens, 1986);
“Notes on the early history of water-well drilling in the United States,” by Charles W. Carlston, Economic Geology (Vol. 38, pages 119-136, 1943); available online at http://econgeol.geoscienceworld.org/content/38/2/119.full.pdf+html (subscription may be required for access);

“Hand-dug Wells,” WaterAid (January 2013), online at http://www.wateraid.org/~/media/Publications/Hand-dug-wells.pdf;


Principles of Water Resources: History, Development, Management, and Policy
, Third Ed., by Thomas V. Cech (Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, 2010), pages 1—4;


Water Wells and Boreholes
, by Bruce Misstear et al. (Chichester, England: John Wiley & Sons, 2006), pages 1—6.


Virginia’s regulations on private wells
(Virginia Administrative Code, Sec. 12 VAC 5-630) are available online at http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+reg+12VAC5-630.  “Design and Construction Criteria” are in Part III, starting at Section 12 VAC 5-630-350.

 

Information on Virginia’s 1610 sanitation law was taken from the Virginia Department of Health Web site at http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/odw/AboutUs.htm; and from “First Hand Accounts of Virginia 1575-1705,” at the University of Virginia’s “Virtual Jamestown” Web site, http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/etcbin/jamestown-browse?id=J1056 (see Article 1.22).

Other sources of information about water wells and well-drilling
Virginia Household Water Quality Program and Virginia Master Well-owner Network, Virginia Tech Department of Biological Systems Engineering, online at http://www.wellwater.bse.vt.edu/.  For more information about these programs, contact Erin Ling, phone (540) 231-9058; e-mail: wellwater@vt.edu.

“Pulse of the Planet” (Web site: http://www.pulseplanet.com/) segments with Virginia well-driller Eric Rorrer and with Erin Ling, the coordinator of the Virginia Household Water Quality Program and Virginia Master Well-owner Network.  The three segments are as follows:
March 10, 2014: Water-Drilling
;
March 11, 2014: Water - Surface and Ground
;
March 12, 2014: Water-Well Maintenance
.



Virginia Water News and Other Information
            For news, events, and resources relevant to Virginia's water resources, grouped into categories, please visit the Virginia Water Central News Grouper, available online at http://vawatercentralnewsgrouper.wordpress.com/.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Episode 217 (6-9-14): Surface Tension and Other Aspects of Water Sticking Together

Click to listen to episode (2:57)

TRANSCRIPT


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of June 9, 2014.

This week, we feature more mystery sounds.  Have a listen for about 20 seconds, and see if you can guess what place all these sounds have in common, and what important chemical and physical properties of water we can observe in that place.  And here’s a hint: tiny water striders and towering woody plants both have a stake in the answer.

SOUND

If you guessed that the place was the surface of water, you’re right!  Those were sounds of swimmers, a kayaker’s paddle, feet splashing, and a beaver’s tail slap.  All were breaking the surface of water, but what’s actually there to get broken?  Chemical attractions between hydrogen and oxygen atoms in water molecules create a surface film, also called surface tension, on still or slow-moving water.  Among common liquids, water is second only to mercury in the strength of its surface tension.  Surface tension offers a habitat for the familiar insect called a water strider—whose legs are adapted to push into, but not break, the surface film—and for various other insects, plants, and microbes.  But the molecular attractions among water molecules—or water cohesion—that create surface tension are also at work in other biologically vital places, perhaps most notably in woody plants.  Cohesion, tension, and the closely-related property of adhesion—or attractions between water and other kinds of molecules—together give water the capacity to be moved upward through pores and spaces in plants, including dozens or even hundreds of feet high from the roots to the leaves of tall trees.  For these and other reasons, it’s no exaggeration to say that life as we know it depends on how water sticks together.

For other water sounds and music, and for more Virginia water information, visit our Web site at virginiawaterradio.org, or call us at (540) 231-5463.  From the Virginia Water Resources Research Center in Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.

SHOW NOTES

[All Internet addresses mentioned were functional as of 6/9/14]


A water strider (insect family Gerridae) on a stream in Leesburg, Va., June 25, 2010.  The oval shadows on the stream bottom result from the insect’s legs pushing into the water’s surface film.

Whirligig beetles (insect family Gyrinidae) on the surface of the Big Otter River in Bedford County, Va., June 15, 2013.


The two photos immediately above show a simple kitchen demonstration of surface tension.  In the top photo, cornstarch rests upon the surface film of tap water.  In the bottom photo, the cornstarch has been pulled to the sides of the pan, after a soapy finger touched to the water disrupted the surface tension in the middle of the pan.


Acknowledgments

The swimming sounds were recorded at the Virginia Tech swimming team’s practice on April 11, 2014.  Virginia Water Radio thanks the team and their coaches for their help and for their permission to record and use these sounds.

Sources for this episode

Aquatic Chemistry: An Introduction Emphasizing Chemical Equilibria in Natural Waters
, 2nd Edition, by Werner Stumm and James J. Morgan (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1981); particularly pp. 603—604.

General Chemistry
, by Linus Pauling (New York: Dover Publications, 1970); particularly chapter 12, “Water.”

Guide to Common Freshwater Invertebrates of North America
, by J. Reese Voshell, Jr. (Blacksburg, Va.: McDonald and Woodward, 2002); particularly pp. 340—341 and 368—369.

Limnology, 2nd Edition
, by Robert G. Wetzel (Philadelphia: Saunders College Publishing, 1983); particularly pp. 13—14 and 139.

“Water Properties and Measurements,”
on the U.S. Geological Survey’s “Water Science School” Web site, at http://water.usgs.gov/edu/waterproperties.html.

Other sources of information about water chemistry and physics

“General Chemistry Help,” Purdue University Department of Chemistry/Bodner Research Web, online at http://chemed.chem.purdue.edu/genchem/topicreview/index.php.

Two previous Virginia Water Radio episodes on the special physical and chemical properties of water:

Episode 210 (4-21-14)
, on water as a solvent.
Episode 199 (2-3-14)
, on water's heat-capacity properties.



Virginia Water News and Other Information
            For news, events, and resources relevant to Virginia's water resources, grouped into categories, please visit the Virginia Water Central News Grouper, available online at http://vawatercentralnewsgrouper.wordpress.com/.