Well, it’s not actually one of the “Seven Wonders.”
As a matter of fact, this wonder is one of only TWO on Earth. And the strange thing is: you’ve probably never heard of it.
Located in the southern part of Hawkins County (near Rogersville), Ebbing and Flowing Spring is one of only two springs in the world to exhibit tidal characteristics with a predictable regularity.
What does that mean?
Well, as its name implies, the spring goes from a gentle trickle to a flood of more than 500 gallons per minute. And it does it every 2 hours and 47 minutes. Unlike thermal springs that produce warm water, the temperature of Ebbing and Flowing Spring maintains a constant 34° Fahrenheit year-round.
Originally called Sinking Spring, the spring is located on land that once belonged to war hero Colonel Thomas Amis, the father-in-law of Rogersville founder, Joseph Rogers. In fact, the land was given to him by the North Carolina General Assembly as payment for his services during the American Revolution. Though Amis settled the area around 1780, his stone house still stands just a few hundred yards from the spring. He also established a distillery, forge, store, and tavern, as well as an inn—where visitors included Andrew Jackson and Daniel Boone. (Today, the Amis Inn and Amis Mill Eatery are constant reminders of Amis’s significance to Northeast Tennessee.)
Interestingly, local legend maintains that the spring has special powers, specifically for young lovers. Townspeople claimed that any couple who drank from the spring at the peak of its flow would be married within a year! Allegedly, this phenomenon was discovered by Joseph Rogers himself, when he drank from the spring with his beloved, Mary Amis.
But the question still remains: What causes the spring to ebb and flow?
Though it’s only speculation, the prevailing opinion is that the process is caused by an underground siphon. Imagine a underground cavern, with a tunnel outward that bends upward, then downward. Water fills the cavern until its liquid level is higher than the top of the exiting bend. Then, a siphon pulls the water outward until air breaks the vacuum. Thus, a trickle becomes a gush, which becomes a trickle again. And so on, for hundreds of years!
(Okay, so maybe I didn’t do a great job of explaining that. Go here, then click on the drawings for a visual explanation.)
So, next time you’re in Northeast Tennessee, take the family on a day trip to Rogersville. Where else can you can see a natural wonder AND a historical landmark on the same hike? And don’t miss the Printing Museum, Pressman’s Home, Hale Springs Inn and all sorts of unique places that make Hawkins County an unforgettable place to visit!