With the power to calm and soothe a restless soul, flowing water brings a sense of clarity and focus to a chaotic mind- at least it does for me. That’s a big part of the reason that I love flowing artesian wells! Last week, we talked about the first artesian well I ever stumbled across, which sits about half of a mile west of the hamlet of Granville in northern Delaware County. I know of four more within a five mile radius of it.
Here’s a quick refresher: an artesian well is a type of well in which water flows to the surface without the need for pumping. Indiana’s most prominent serves at the centerpiece of Flowing Well Park in Carmel, but these things predate Carmel’s recent prominence- they’re relics from the Indiana gas boom that happened around the turn of the twentieth century. Over time, the shafts and casings of old gas wells began to crack. Water seeped into the pipes and began to flow up and out of those that’d been drilled through confined aquifers, and that’s how Central Indiana got its artesian wells.
This is a map of the five wells I know of within five miles of the one at Granville, a circle that spans portions of Hamilton, Niles, and Delaware townships (FreeMapTools let me generate a KML file of the radius to import to Google Maps to draw the circle). The Granville well at center is shown as a dark blue point on the map, while the four we’ll talk about today are represented in a lighter shade. None of the wells has an official name, so I’ve decided to refer to them by their location or by the names of people who own or owned the land they sit on for the purpose of this post.
To that end, all of these flowing wells are situated on private property, so be mindful about trespassing if you want to see any for yourself. As far as photos are concerned, these can all be seen from what’s considered to be a public easement. It’s probably also important to mention that the vast majority of artesian wells found out in the wild aren’t monitored or tested by the board of health. It didn’t stop me, but they may not be safe to drink from.
The Shroyer well
Nearly everyone in Delaware County who knows about the well at Granville knows about what I’ve decided to call the Shroyer well, though some refer to it as the Black’s Mill or Black Mill well in reference to the road it sits on. For much of its existence, the water flowed from a four-foot-tall standpipe1. Today, it pours forth from a squat, cylindrical housing.
The water flows from the casing into a small brook, which is colored red from years of iron deposits. The stream diverges into two channels that disappear underground. In 1982, the well was owned by James and Phyllis Shroyer. Today, it’s one of the most picturesque artesian wells in the area. To go see it for yourself, take Black’s Mill Road west from State Road 67 at Dead Man’s Curve. The well will be to your right adjacent to some fieldstones about a fifth of a mile after you cross the Mississinewa River.
The Reynard well
The Mississinewa River is the red-headed stepchild of Delaware County’s primary waterways given how much publicity the White River gets. That said, it’s a great source of artesian wells. The Reynard well stands about a hundred feet east of it, across Reynard Road. It’s almost impossible to see from the road unless you know where it is. I would have never known about if it wasn’t for a Facebook comment.
Four or five years ago, I started a thread on a group there in an attempt to crowdsource some information about artesian wells. Someone replied and said that there was a well on her dad’s farm near Albany, but that it wasn’t maintained and was impossible to see from the road. To no avail, I searched and searched on Google Maps until I decided to send a direct message.
Terry Reynard responded and invited me up to see the well in person. A former member of the Delaware County Council, Reynard farms his family’s homestead southwest of Albany. He drove us out to the well on his Gator, pointing out the foundation of what he believed to have been a natural gas substation that the well powered. As you can see in the photo, the well casing is modern- Terry fixed it about a year before he took me there. He told me that, at one point, outflow from the old well washed over Reynard Road which became a popular place for locals to clean the underbody of their cars. Today, its water goes under the roadbed on its way to the river.
To try to see the well from the road, go in the fall or winter after the leaves have fallen. Take Reynard Road about seven-tenths of a mile north from its intersection with East County Road 514 North. You’ll eventually see a metal gate on the east side of the road; the well sits nearby.
The Woodside Road well
I also learned about the artesian well at Woodside Road -just east of State Road 67 and 28’s juncture southwest of Albany- from a Facebook comment. After I posted about artesian wells on a Facebook page I manage,a reader named Kelly recalled the location of a one that he drank from as a child2. He was nice enough to send a map, so I was off to the races. The artesian well at Woodside Road, like the Shroyer well, feeds a thin channel that eventually disappears underground.
Unfortunately, the well’s casing has been filled with cement in the days since Kelly Smith drank from it. Thankfully, though, enough water trickles out to perpetuate the channel. The well at Woodside Road is one of the few I’ve gone to that I haven’t taken a swig from since there’s so little water, but it’s still there, serving as a centerpiece to the property owner’s landscaping.
If you want to see this well in person, start where IN-28 and State Road 67 meet near Indiana Ticket southwest of Albany. Follow the highway north for two-fifths of a mile and turn right onto Woodside Road. The well sits at the elbow of where Woodside Road curves south to meet North County Road 425-East.
The Russell Farms well
The old Russell Farms well kind of counts as one, since water still comes out of it despite its absent casing. According to the current owner of the property, the standpipe was capped with concrete and the tip of a boot sometime during the 1980s3. As you can see, now it’s complete gone. Nevertheless, water and natural gas still ooze and burble from the well’s subterranean pipe, creating sort of a marsh on the west side of North County Road 200-East, right across from Delta High School’s softball diamonds.
The Russell Farms well is probably the most interesting of the four we’ve talked about today since it most directly illustrates how their modern use aligns with their original intent as a means to supply natural gas to the area. Carrying a distinctive, gassy aroma, the hole -which measures a couple of inches across- bubbles and chatters in such a way that brings to mind a back entrance to Hell. You’d be ill-advised to flick your BIC anywhere near the old well, no matter how scientific you think you’re being. Water’s seen as a source of wisdom and knowledge to many cultures, after all.
To many, the appeal of artesian wells lies in the fact that they’re natural, sustainable sources of water that have been filtered by the earth’s layers for a long time. I just think they’re cool! I’ve been to fourteen more in the immediate area, the majority of which are concentrated around Delaware County’s western border. We’ll talk about them in the future!
1 Gerhart, L. (1982, September 18). Artesian abound in Delaware County -wells, that is. The Muncie Evening Press. p. 3.
2 Shideler, T. FOUND Muncie (2020, March 7). A 1939 Dick Greene column listed eight extant artesian wells in the county. Of those, I know three that have [Status]. Facebook. Retrieved December 10, 2022.
3 Russell, J. Lost Muncie. (2015, July 30). As a kid there was one near the present day Delta softball field on our land, but mysteriously 30ish years ago [Comment]. Facebook. Retrieved December 10, 2022.
8 thoughts on “More artesian wells in Northeastern Delaware County”
Ted, as a kid my friend and I used to ride our bikes to what you call the Shroyer Well from Shideler. As I remember that road is also 700 North?
Are you any relation to the founders of the town of Shideler?
I grew up on the farm on the west side of Shideler on 800N and Hwy 3 and that farm may have been owned by a Shideler family in the late 1800s and early 1900s?
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I’ve always been told that I’m a vague relation to those Shidelers, but I’m still trying to figure the connection out. I’ll look into the history of that farm!
Ted, my parents, Gerald and Dorothy Miller bought that farm in 1944 from the Burt family. The Burt family had lived there for many years (generations)
The Russell family bought the tillable acres from my parents in the mid 1970s — same family as your well near Delta
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Ted—do you know Joe Russell as your Russell well is on his farm.
If so—if want to research the farm we discussed before, Joe would have the abstract for that property.
It seems I remember someone saying the Burt family had purchased the farm farm a Shideler family??—maybe??
BTW—hello from Atlanta, GA
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I know of him and have talked on Facebook with him before. I’ll have to get in touch with him for that abstract! And hello from, temporarily, Edisto Island, South Carolina! Glad to have a “local” checking out my blog!
As a kid I have been to 3 of those wells—also the Granville well as the other two we mentioned before.
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Any others that I missed?
Ted—-not that I am aware near where I grew up.
Also like your interest in the old Delaware County gas wells.
My Dad said someone told him that there may have been an old gas well on the NW corner of our farm behind what is now the old log cabin house on the corner of Hwy 3 and Shideler Road (800N)