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The water supply at Monticello was a constant struggle for Thomas Jefferson and the entire plantation community. In 1769, Jefferson employed a crew of workers who spent forty-six days digging a well through sixty-five feet of rock near the South Pavilion. Even then, the well went dry for a total of six of the years between 1769 and 1797. There were springs lower down on the mountain, so when the well was dry water had to be carted up to the mountaintop. Finally, Jefferson settled upon the construction of four eight-foot-cube cisterns up near the house that would capture rainwater running off the roofs and terraces of the house. Work for those started in 1810, but it took many years of trial and error in creating a waterproof plaster before they held rainwater--and even then, it was never a perfect system.
- Betts, Edwin M., ed. Thomas Jefferson's Garden Book, 1766-1824: With Relevant Extracts from His Other Writings, 1944. Rep. 1999. Manuscript and transcription available online.
- etts, Edwin M., Hazlehurst Bolton Perkins, and Peter Hatch. Thomas Jefferson's Flower Garden at Monticello. Charlottesville: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association and University Press of Virginia, 1986, 17-20.
- McLaughlin, Jack. Jefferson and Monticello: the Biography of a Builder New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1988.