Title: Discovery of Artesian Wells in South Dakota

ID: cdn.water.wells.0005

TEI-encoded XML: cdn.water.wells.0005.xml


In the late 70's the soldiers and especially their wives stationed at Ft. Randall on the Missouri river only a few miles above the Nebraska line, were very much dissatisfied with the water supply. In order to have better drinking water it was decided to sink a deep well. By 1871 this well had reached a depth of 600 feet. To the surprise of all concerned at 610 feet a tremendous flow of water gushed forth and continued for years to flow out upon the flood plains of the Missouri. A few weeks later the second artesian well in the state was drilled in the southern part of the state along the Missouri river.

In 1883 the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway sunk a deep well at Ashton, striking a flow at 960 feet, the first artesian well anywhere in South Dakota, outside of the flood plain of the Missouri. For ten or twelve years after the Ashton well all wells were four to eight inches in diameter costing on an average of three to twelve thousand dollars each. The cost was prohibitive to most of our farmers.

In 1885 Peter Nordeck of Redfield, our present lieutenant governor, along with a Mr. Erickson, established a well drilling outfit and introduced small-hole drilling, two inches more or less in diameter. These wells were made with a common churn drill of small size but down through the hollow pipe water under pressure of from 200 to 700 pounds was forced, which rising carried the debris with it. With this drilling outfit it was possible to sink a well a thousand feet deep in two or three days. The cost was reduced from three to twelve thousand to three to four hundred dollars. It was not long until thousands of farmers were able to have flowing wells upon their land when they could be produced so quickly and at such a low expense.-Elwood C. Perisho, President South Dakota State College.