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BUILDING HISTORY: Jacob’s Run

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- It's the sound of water running, running from Wilmington's past to the present. A sewer system that put us on the map. Jacob’s Run is this week’s building history.

"The exciting part is that Wilmington was the state of the art of technology in drainage systems in the 1730's, 1740’s in downtown Wilmington that are still being used 300 years later." Librarian Joe Sheppard said.

When something is done right and working, you use it.

"Recently the city of Wilmington did a lot of work in the downtown area and pulled up streets and found some existing culvert systems from the early Colonial period." Sheppard said.

Early sewers carried standing water, waste plus whatever you put in it. It was important sanitary feature.

"The great thing about Jacob's run, it was a stream that was converted over from the Colonial period and named for someone name Jacob." Sheppard explained.

Of course this is Wilmington, so the sewer carries more than water…the system has been known to float a few stories.

"There are wild stories, ghosts and pirates escaped slaves, you name it,” Sheppard told us. “If you actually look at the culvert system and see how close it is, you're not going to want to go through it. The drainage system themselves are in some places 6 to 9 inches wide or at the greatest 3 feet or a meter."

The system is alive and well today and if you know where to look you can still see it draining water today.

All good things must come to an end and this one does Jacob’s Run ends here at the river. So the next time you are walking along the boardwalk by shops and restaurant, know that history is running right beneath your feet.
From early sewers, to history and genealogy as well as books and reference materials check out our local library, you never know what you might find.

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