Working Wells in Chicago
Working Wells in Chicago
Posted by: ThenNowFuture ()
Date: December 18, 2012 01:45AM

Doe anybody know of any still working individual wells within the city of Chicago that might have been part of a small homestead?

Or any individual wells at all? Even in close in burbs?

Every so often I drive past an old farm house and I see the remains of the old hand pump well, but not any that I can recall in the city. As a kid I used to see a lot more.

What brought this to mind was finding a still working hand pump well at the Forest Preserve off of Willow Springs Road. Most of the FP wells have been capped, at least in the south FP region that I am familiar.

Any working wells still left out there?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/18/2012 07:42PM by ThenNowFuture.

Re: Working Wells in Chicago
Posted by: b.a.hoarder ()
Date: December 18, 2012 02:15AM

I'm in Orland Township and we get all our water at home from a private well. Our's is 160' deep, just a very slight trace of iron, no sulfur odor, but we do soften it. Some in our area have more of a sulfur problem; I've been told I have "Lake Superior" water fed by under ground river, but don't know if that's fact or fiction.
There are suburban communities that require private wells be capped when there is a municipal water supply but some will allow a well to be used for garden purposes only. I would guess all wells in Chicago are capped per city ordinance.

Re: Working Wells in Chicago
Posted by: ThenNowFuture ()
Date: December 18, 2012 01:33PM

b a horder....thanks.

In incorporated Orland Park, I know people there when the water source was the city well, and then they switched to Lake Michigan water via Oak Lawn. Anyway, suddenly the water costs went up and some say the taste went down.

Sure, Chicago probably require all wells for any reason to be capped, but I'm just curious to see if even any of the old hand pumps are still hiding on property disguised as flower pot holders or something.

Re: Working Wells in Chicago
Posted by: b.a.hoarder ()
Date: December 18, 2012 03:05PM

We bought our first home here in town when we married in '78 and yes, it was municipal well water at that time. The east side of town had softeners at the well, but living on the west side we had our own softener as the water was hard.
I know Chicago water is safe but if you drink water from another source for a long time and them sample city water you might detect the same slightly musty odor/taste I do. I have heard it is caused by the Zebra Mussel infestation that the lake suffers from. I lived in the city for 28 years, mostly in Garfield Ridge, and never encountered the mustiness years ago. A fond memory is drinking from a hydrant, one just barely opened on a hot summer day. Somehow that water was different, maybe because it wasn't aerated like the water from the kitchen tap.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 12/18/2012 05:03PM by b.a.hoarder.

Re: Working Wells in Chicago
Posted by: PKDickman ()
Date: December 18, 2012 03:11PM

Hand pumps typically use a 1-1/2" or 2" pipe driven into the ground for a casing.
There is no real reason to cap them off when they are abandoned.
Chicago has no real restrictions except that they can't be used for potable water anymore.

As recent as the '90s there was one at 2130 W LeMoyne. It had once been the water supply for the neighborhood. They put a house on it in '98.

I don't know if it was still working. They take some maintenance that few people know about any more. Eventually the pipe rusts through below the ground and they get covered with dirt.

Re: Working Wells in Chicago
Posted by: ambrosemario ()
Date: December 18, 2012 03:25PM

I know that at least until the 1980's many parts of Hegewisch were still receiving water from individual wells. This is understandable when one considers its extreme distance from the rest of the city. I'd be surprised if this is still the the case today.

Re: Working Wells in Chicago
Posted by: swampman ()
Date: December 18, 2012 05:04PM

in thornton township where i live there are several pump wells in the forest preserves by wampum lake, sweet woods and jurgensen woods. my house as well had a well as a water source but it had been switched over to city water at some point yet the well remained useful for watering plants and washing cars until it stopped working last year after a lightning strike.

Re: Working Wells in Chicago
Posted by: ThenNowFuture ()
Date: December 18, 2012 07:18PM

Hmmmm, I drive through Hegewisch every so often, I have to look more closely. I have a friend who owns a travel agency there. She seems to know everybody; when I think of it I'll ask her, though she will probably think I'm crazy.

Right, too about the maintenance. I had to replace my well because of the pipe casing and the thing was so damned old. This was in Michigan.

Chicago water does taste different, but I've tasted some really bad water in other cities, too. I never did like the idea of putting Flouride in the water, but that is another subject, and does not effect the taste.

Well, if anybody knows of the last working well in Chicago, let me know.

Thanks for replies so far.

Re: Working Wells in Chicago
Posted by: tom12ga ()
Date: April 21, 2013 03:33AM

When Daniel O'Brien (a retired judge) was rehabbing the former Peter Schoenhofen Brewing Company at 18th and Canalport Avenue an old artesian well was re-discovered.

Here is an [url=]article[/url] (on page 2)

Here is the ordinance that was passed by the Chicago City Council as part of a licensing agreement:

ORDINANCE WHEREAS, the City of Chicago ("City") is a duly constituted home rule unit of local government pursuant to the 1970 Constitution of the State of Illinois; and WHEREAS, the City desires to build awareness of Chicago and promote its leisure tourism industry by producing and selling City of Chicago labeled bottled water; and WHEREAS, Schoenhofen Company, L.L.C. ("Schoenhofen") has been designated as the exclusive licensee to use a replica of the City's official seal on bottled Deep Artesian well water from the Schoenhofen Brewery located in Chicago and bottled City of Chicago Lake Michigan water (individually and collectively the "Product"); and WHEREAS, the City and Schoenhofen desire to enter into a license agreement where the City grants Schoenhofen a limited license and Schoenhofen will manufacture and label the Product, manage Product orders, distribute, deliver and/or donate the Product to vendors and third parties approved by the City and market and promote the Product; now therefore, BE IT ORDAINED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO: SECTION 1. The above recitals are incorporated by reference as if fully set forth here. SECTION 2. The Commissioner of Cultural Affairs ("Commissioner") is authorized to execute a license agreement with Schoenhofen Company, L.L.C. that is substantially in the form attached to this ordinance as Exhibit A. SECTION 3. Schoenhofen will make payments under the license agreement directly into the Chicago Tourism Fund, an Illinois not-for-profit corporation with such documentation as the Comptroller requires. The Commissioner is authorized to enter into an agreement with the Chicago Tourism Fund regarding payments from Schoenhofen and the terms and conditions for their expenditure. All payments received under the license agreement that are deposited in this fund must be used solely for programs and/or activities that promote tourism within the City of Chicago. SECTION 4. Schoenhofen has a limited license to use a replica of the City's official seal on the Product labels and on nothing else and for this purpose, the limited license is exclusive. The Product will bear only labels approved by the City. SECTION 5. This ordinance takes effect from and after the date of its passage and approval. EXHIBIT A LICENSE AGREEMENT between THE CITY OF CHICAGO ("CITY") and SCHOENHOFEN COMPANY, L.L.C.

Re: Working Wells in Chicago
Posted by: Paul Petraitis ()
Date: May 03, 2013 12:40PM

Well, its following the topic but it isn't. The Town of Pullman when it was first built (1880-1882) relied on artesian and other wells (what's the diff?) before water service was extended south from 67th street in 1882. There are no visible remains of this early well water period in Pullman's history tho we know one was dug on the grounds of the Hotel Florence (111th and St. Lawrence) There is also an old well (covered up and sodded over) from the old Wilcox farm near 100th and Beverly east of the church. How do you fill and/or cap a well? Are there maps of former wells within chicago? Kinda off topic but still wondering...

Re: Working Wells in Chicago
Posted by: Lance Grey ()
Date: May 03, 2013 11:34PM

Artesian wells rise up to ground level on their own like a Spring. And they often feed into Rivers & Creeks.
Our family Farm in Wisconsin had several artesians along the Wisconsin River.
Aerial images of the area show hundreds of "V" shaped feeds that go to the River. -- Great Muskie hiding spots at the Rivers' edge!

Most wells are dug or tapped into a natural cistern or underground flow,
with a pump or old-fashioned bucket on a rope needed to draw the water out.

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