I’ve gotten pretty good at finding and identifying flowing wells. After all, identifying them’s easy, so long as you can see the water gushing up from underground! Finding them can be more of a challenge, but sometimes it’s simple: I had no idea that what I call the Koontz well existed until a friend showed me a picture on his phone and asked, “is this one?” Jackpot! It was, and it sits just south of Yorktown.
My historically-minded buddy and I went on that drive a couple years ago to inspect a pair artesian wells in southeastern Grant County. He showed me the picture on our way back. I was almost certain it was a flowing well, but I struggled to see it in person as we drove Bell Creek Road past where he said it was. Unfortunately, my buddy’s acquaintance, who’d taken the photo from her backyard, was hesitant to give us permission to come take a look for ourselves for one reason or another. I figured out who owned the property and called them instead. They were more than happy to show it off to me!
I call this the Koontz well because it was drilled on land owned by Colonel Jacob Harvey Koontz, an ex-forty-niner who purchased the Yorktown mills and a general store with his gold-panning proceeds1. In 1900, Koontz owned 197 acres of farmland just south of Buck Creek in Sections 25 and 26 of Mt. Pleasant Township2. He died eight years later and was buried at Beech Grove Cemetery in Muncie3.
The Koontz well sits near the “7” of the 305.27 on this topographic map. It’s in a valley that surrounds Buck Creek. The surrounding land -and water table underneath the surface- is more than eighteen feet higher than the well, and that’s what causes it to flow. I wrote a more detailed explanation of the phenomenon here.
Most of East-Central Indiana’s flowing wells started off as natural gas wells during the boom that spanned about thirty years surrounding the turn of the nineteenth century. Many of their casings cracked over time, and water seeped in, up, and out. The Koontz well, in particular, features an old casing that immediately identifies it as part of the gas boom. The water rises about halfway up a rusted cylinder into a trough that empties into a small channel that flows into Buck Creek. Buck Creek travels nearly three miles from the well towards a confluence with White River just north of Yorktown proper.
My work in Mt. Pleasant Township isn’t done: I know of three artesian wells here that all sit within half a mile of each other on South Highbanks Road. I’ve been told about another I haven’t been to yet in a backyard on State Road 32 between Yorktown and Daleville, and I’ve heard of another in the Beverly Heights addition on Nebo Road. I haven’t found that one yet, although I know where it’s said to sit.
Old newspaper articles mention flowing wells near Lions Club Park in Yorktown and north of Yorktown Middle School but I don’t think they exist anymore. Regardless, the Koontz well off of Bell Creek Road in Mt. Pleasant Township keeps flowing, and flowing, and flowing- just as it’s done for more than a hundred years.
1 Mt Pleasant Township Holds Many Memories (1932, November 11). The Muncie Evening Press. p. 8.
2 Delaware County Map, 1900 (2018, October 1). Map Collection, Indiana Division, Indiana State Library.
3 Deaths (1908, September 16). The Muncie Press. p. 5.
2 thoughts on “The Koontz flowing well south of Yorktown”
I never understood how those old well casings always seemed to crack. Now, having been a bystander as the kids’ discovered that cast iron roof-to-basement drain stacks have a maximum life of about 100 years – when they are not buried. Some photos of their 115+ year old example (after being freed from its concrete surroundings) make the phenomenon perfectly clear to me now.
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Yes, that would make it clear. I read about their new adventure on your blog. How great, especially as a bystander!
Although John and I live in similar circumstances, it’s inside a 1980 duplex that we own along with our parents. Despite your kids’ trouble, I’d still take hundred-year-old construction over this suburban example, which was built to wrap an AC condensate line around a king post in the attic! It rattled loose and flooded the ceiling. That led to significant problems.
It was fun to demolish my ceiling, of course, but the rest of it wasn’t nearly as agreeable. The best part is that my stepdad’s handyman lives downstairs now, so I can call him whenever I want 🙂
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