Nestled among the lush, green foothills of the Southern Appalachian Mountains is a centuries-old spring known to locals as the “Great Blue Spring of Blount Country.” Word spread of this mesmerizing blue-and-turquoise jewel-like pool and its pure and cool life-giving water. Stories of its healing properties circulated between locals, and it attracted Native Americans, Civil War soldiers, and weary travelers from the nearby Black Warrior / Stagecoach Trail to drink its cool water and to relax and rejuvenate at its edges. Local lore even has it that Davy Crockett and President Andrew Jackson thought themselves to have “discovered” the spring while hunting along the Black Warrior Trail in the early 1800s.
But the Great Blue Spring of Alabama has always belonged to the people. Today, Blue Spring Living Water carries on that legacy, sharing Alabama’s natural spring water with all.
In the early 1900s, the VanZandt family owned the 100-acre plot of land, which included the legendary Alabama spring, where they’d host baptisms, music festivals, and other gatherings so the locals could continue to enjoy the splendor of the spring.
A child named Ottis Shedd was a party to many of these gatherings, where he must have sipped the cool spring water as adults plucked the strings of guitars by candlelight at the water’s edge. Ottis, like many, felt a spiritual connection to this spring, and, even as a child, he made no secret of his desire to own this land—particularly its magnificent spring.
In 1950, while on his deathbed, the VanZandt patriarch made good on his promise to a grown- up Ottis Shedd, sending his two sons on foot to offer the spring to him. The deal was made then and there.
For Mr. Shedd, who had grown up seeing folks rejuvenated by its waters, the Alabama spring held great meaning—it symbolized renewal, faith, and tradition. He grew up witnessing the beauty of the traditions held at its water’s edge and learning of locals’ accounts of the spring water’s healing powers. He never turned away someone who wanted a sip or a jug or just to bask at the edge of Alabama’s Great Blue Spring. He knew it was a special place.
And in 1987, a GeoSurvey of Alabama proved him right, calling it a Geological Wonder and confirming the water’s perfectly neutral pH balance, which it still has to this day. What’s more, the healthiest waters on record come through limestone aquifers that are naturally mineral- enriched with magnesium, calcium, and silica—like the one feeding the Great Blue Spring of Alabama. Put simply, this local water has healing properties that only nature can provide.
In 1999, Mr. Shedd decided to start a proper, yet humble, bottling operation, so that more people could enjoy Alabama’s spring water. In an appropriate nod to the land’s rich history he named it Blue Spring Water. And in reverence of the deeper symbolism of the water’s life-giving energy, Mr. Shedd made the eagle the symbol of the brand. He felt the eagle captured the strength and longevity the spring water provides, as well as the integrity and truth of its untouched purity.
In 2017, Cameron Cardwell, a 50-year-old Alabamian and motion picture production professional was looking for something different in his life. So, when he learned about Blue Spring Water’s pure Alabama water and the legends of the Great Blue Spring, he was not only intrigued, but felt completely drawn to it. He learned more and decided he wanted to help share Alabama’s water. He did a little digging and was directed to call a 95-year-old man named Mr. Otis Shedd. Cameron called him, and Mr. Shedd said, “I’m 95 years old, and I’m not going anywhere, so you can come see me whenever you want.” Compelled by an inner voice, Cameron found himself, right then and there, driving straight to the land to meet with Mr. Shedd.
The two ended up talking for hours about everything but the spring. As they were wrapping up the conversation, Mr. Shedd said he’d promised the spring to a friend.
Before he knew it, Cameron was following Mr. Shedd into the pasture to the barn housing the Great Blue Spring of Alabama. As the 95-year-old walked, he talked about his love for the land and the majestic spring, and how he wanted its water to be shared. They arrived at the gate and he told Cameron to go in and experience it by himself.
“It’s hard to explain how it felt when I walked into the enclosure by myself,” says Cameron. “There is a peace and serenity, something very sacred about this space. There was no doubt that this is where I would be hanging my hat for a very long time to come.”
That was May 2017. On June 1, 2017, Cameron turned the lock and began harvesting and bottling Alabama’s natural spring water. He kept the great spring’s name to honor the land, its rich history, and its beauty. He kept the symbolic eagle to capture the integrity and natural purity of the water, the strength and longevity provided by its mineral-rich properties, and the truthful principles of its bottlers.
The Great Blue Spring of Alabama has always belonged to the people. The VanZandts and Mr. Shedd kept it that way. And today, Blue Spring Living Water carries on that legacy, sharing Alabama’s natural spring water with all.