Two flowing wells in Hancock County’s Brown Township

I’ll never forget the first time I came across a flowing well and I’ve been fascinated by them ever since. After finding eleven in Delaware County, I started branching out to other nearby places. I stumbled across one in Hancock County a couple years ago and visited another nearby just the other day.

The sound of flowing water has a natural, relaxing rhythm. Unfortunately, my attempts at replicating it at home have proven pretty spotty: for one thing, it’s hard to hear those tabletop tranquility fountains over their tiny motors. For another, the “babbling brook” setting on the white noise machine plays two distracting, identical splashes where the audio clip loops. I’d drill a flowing well in my yard and drop a microphone down if they didn’t require such a specific set of circumstances to function!

An infographic I made that shows how artesian wells work.

Flowing wells work because they’ve been drilled into an aquifer where the pressure is high enough to cause the water to flow to the surface under its own pressure. Those conditions exist in valleys where water is confined between impermeable strata beneath the rest of the water table, as I illustrated in the infographic above. I wrote a more detailed explanation of the geology behind them here.

Flowing wells are often called artesian wells due to how common they were in the historic French province of Artois. Although non-flowing artesian wells exist as seen in the upper left of my infographic, I’m using the terms “flowing well” and “artesian well” interchangeably today.

The Village Brook well

The Village Brook flowing well. Photo taken April 4, 2020.

The Village Brook flowing well sits about twenty-five feet south of the Madison/Hancock Line on County Road 1100. It’s hard to see in this topographic image, but four feet of difference between where the well was drilled and where the water table sits under the surrounding, higher farmland is enough to allow the water to freely flow up and out towards Village Brook.

The flowing well sits just right of Village Brook on the south side of the road marked E 1100 N. Imagery courtesy the Hancock County Assessor’s GIS department and Schneider Corporation.

Village Brook, by the way, is only called that in Hancock County. Just north of the well, the stream flows for about three-fifths of a mile into Madison County where it’s called Ham Ditch. After it ducks back into Hancock County, the waterway flows southwest before it joins Sugar Creek. The creek -Brown Township’s largest waterway- feeds into the Driftwood River near Edinburgh in Bartholomew County about forty-five miles southwest as the crow flies.

The Harlan Cemetery well

The Harlan Cemetery flowing well. Photo taken March 19, 2023.

I knew about the artesian well at Harlan Cemetery but never realized it was so close to the well at Village Brook. I didn’t visit it until last weekend! To get there from the Village Brook well, take County Road 1100 east to North County Road 1000-East and take a right to head south. Drive for two miles and you’ll come across Harlan Cemetery. The well is on your left, about midway between County Road 900-North and the cemetery entrance. There’s a spot to pull off.

The flowing well sits across the road from the large pond. Imagery courtesy the Hancock County Assessor’s GIS department and Schneider Corporation.

Harlan Cemetery sits on what was once the farm of Stephen Harlan, an early settler who built a mill nearby on Sugar Creek. The well sits about eight feet lower than the cemetery ridge and about ten feet lower than the surrounding farmland. Those are prime conditions for it to flow on its own! The water comes from a curved pipe connected to what I gather was the original well casing, and it flows into a tiny pool surrounded by boulders and bricks. I don’t know if the water drains into the pond across the road or not, but it ultimately reaches Sugar Creek.

I wouldn’t be shocked if there were more, but the Village Brook and Harlan Cemetery wells are the only artesian wells I know of in Hancock County. It was too windy when I visited Harlan Cemetery, but next time I may even bring one of my trusty SM58 dynamic microphones to replace the clip on my white noise machine and finally get some decent shuteye.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s