Self Flowing Wells.
A subject on which there is still a large amount of misconception says the Pittsburg Dispatch, is that of artesian, or self flowing wells. Usually, as we perforate the crust of the earth we find water at no great depth, but generally the water will rise only to a certain height in the well, which is known as the water line. This line may vary in wet or dry weather, or on high or low ground, and in the same locality water is sometimes found only at surprising depths, while near by it may be found much nearer the surface. But there are localities in almost any country where a perforation down into the rocks is followed by an overflowing fountain of water, sometimes, as in some portions of the West, with force enough to operate machinery.
This outflow can only be accomplished by some kind of pressure. There is generally a higher “head;” that is, the source of supply has some higher altitude, and, while this may be many miles away, the water has found open material or favoring crevices under a more compact stratum to serve as conduits; and when this compact cover is penetrated, the water will rise to a height corresponding to its source, and with a force, light or heavy, corresponding with its pressure. Such is the usual condition that sustains a well of this kind, but there are also others. A natural gas pressure may at some point be exerted against a column of water, which, when exit is furnished, will then gush forth. Then, again, thercare evidences of a sufficient surface pressure to force the water to and over the surroundings when vent is afforded.
The phenomenon of gushing forth is sometimes encountered in unexpected places. In the small town of North Lima, ten miles south of Youngstown, O., an ordinary well was dug some years ago, and, at a depth of less than 30 feet, a stream was encountered that filled the hole nearly as fast as the one digger could be drawn up, the overflow issuing forth in a fair-sized brook. Alarm was taken, the excavation was hurriedly filled up with stones and dirt and the flow was shut off. In the county of Williams, in the northwestern corner of Ohio, flowing wells can be secured in many localities by simply driving pipe, often to a depth of only twenty feet. Hardin county, in the same State, also has districts where the water will overflow, and both the counties mentioned are rather flat. A most remarkable geyser was struck at Belle Blaine, in the southwest corner of Benton county, Iowa, some years ago, and such was the volume of water that shot forth impelled with such terrific force that engineers from Chicago were employed to devise a method to get it under control. All flowing oil wells are such by reason of gas pressure and as the pressure diminishes, the flow abates.
While no one may know in advance just where an artesian flow may be met with, it is not so hard to determine where such a flow would be impossible. Probably twenty years ago the Commissioners of Allen county. Ind., concluded to have an artesian well in the Court House yard in Fort Wayne. Pole tools were secured for drilling, and by this most tedious method a hole was made over 3,000 feet deep. Water of a most villainous smell was struck at a depth of forty feet, and was there all through the progress of the work, and is still there. The remarkable feature of the case is that the city mentioned is right on the divide between the great lakes and the Mississippi basin, and hence is often called the Summit City. Yet here, with nothing higher for thousands of miles in any direction, a perforation was made three thousand feet deep in the hope of securing an outflow against every law known to hydraulics. For years the water was scorned, having a flavor as of decayed eggs, but at length, when an analysis was made, it was declared on high authority to possess extraordinary medicinal virtues, and such was the pressure for the once despised fluid that a fountain operated by steam power was established to accommodate the public. No artesian well can be possible in such localities.
A deed from the village of Venice, Ill., to the Granite City, Madison and Venice Water Company, was filed in the Recorder’s office conveying to the latter, in consideration of $16,000, the entire system of waterworks heretofore owned and operated by the village of Venice. Four thousand dollars of the consideration is cash, and the balance is to be liquidated by supplying the village of Venice with ten fire hydrants for the term of fifteen years.