How BIG is the Haston Big Spring Branch

When the Hastons moved (late 1803 or early 1804) to what became White County, TN in 1806, Daniel Haston located his cabin on a hill above the emergence (springhead) of what was then called “the Big Spring Branch.”  It soon became known as the “Haston Big Spring.”  After Daniel Haston died, the spring’s name became “David Haston’s Big Spring.”

Sometime later, apparently, the State of Tennessee officially gave it the name “Swamp Spring” or “Big Swamp Spring.”  In recent years the spring has been part of a major U.S. Geological Survey.  Here’s an overview of what is now known about what I still call the “Haston Big Spring.”

(N. 35.80243°, W. 85.44439°)

Photo used by permission from Chuck Sutherland.
Excerpts below from U.S. Geological Survey Karst Interest Group Proceedings, October 19-20, 2021
The photo in the featured image on top of the page shows waters of the Great Falls Lake backed up into (inundating) the Swamp Spring.

At its low water level, the discharge of water is approximately 3,591 gallons per minute.

At its high water level, the discharge of water is approximately 112,208 gallons per minute.

That’s a very BIG Spring!

A dye injection was conducted and it took ten days for the main stream in the Rumbling Falls Cave to reach Swamp Spring.  But, during higher flows this travel time would likely be much less.

Photo used by permission from Chuck Sutherland.

Read the Swamp Spring Hydrological Report

Hydrology Vocabulary

  • A recharge area is a place where water is able to seep into the ground and refill an aquifer because no confining layer is present. 

  • Resurgence is the point at which an underground stream reaches the surface and becomes a surface stream.

  • Karst is a topography formed from the dissolution of soluble rocks such as limestone, dolomite, and gypsum. It is characterized by underground drainage systems with sinkholes and caves.

  • Sump is a pit or reservoir serving as a drain or receptacle for liquids

  • The cubic foot per second (symbol: ft3/s)is the unit of volumetric flow rate equal to that of a cubic foot moving each second.

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