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Radioactive Fountain of Youth

According to legend, Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de Leon traveled half the world looking for the Fountain of Youth. Little would he expect that such a thing may actually be gushing from a small green-tiled fountain on the sidewalk in a little town in Florida.

But before you rush to get a drink from the Fountain of Youth, you should know that the water is radioactive:

In Punta Gorda, a town on Charlotte Harbor, a blocky, green-tiled fountain abuts an empty lot near the harbor. A spigot juts out near the top to release water from the artesian well below. Each of the four sides features a picture of a ship, a tribute to Ponce de Leon.

On the side facing away from the street, a public health notice warns that the water "exceeds the maximum contaminant level for radioactivity."

The water from the well is also heavy in sulfates, which give it a distinctive smell of rotten eggs. This hasn't stopped the locals from drinking from it regularly.

"I drank out of that well every day," said Gussie Baker, a resident of Punta Gorda for all of her 78 years.

Jackie Snow of National Geographic has the fascinating story: Link


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