Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Volume 1, Series 2 of the Dr Pepper Museum Intern Interest Peice Series

Written by Jennifer Dobbs, Baylor University Marketing Student

Every time I walk through the museum there is always an exhibit that catches my eye; the Artesian Well. This round, brick layered well is so interesting and filled with history, that it gets me thinking on how long has been here. What was the well used for? How deep does it go? How old is it? All of these questions and more fill my head, as I look straight down the dark well looking for answers.

So what exactly is an artesian well? It is a deep drilled well through which water is forced upward under pressure. The water in an artesian well flows from an aquifer, which is a layer of very spongy rock or sediment, usually sandstone, capable of holding and transmitting large quantities of water. Water from an artesian well is usually cold and free of organic contaminants, making it popular for drinking.

Artesian wells were being drilled in the Waco area in the late 19th century. These Artesian wells were believed to be the best and healthiest water. The well that was specifically drilled for the Artesian Manufacturing and Bottling Company, was used in its soft drinks.

Around 1928 the well was closed due to the city ordering the closings of all open wells downtown, sources say. Harry Ellis, historian for the Dr Pepper Company said that employees at the plant had swept trash and thrown broken bottles in the well in the 1920s in order to fill it. The well area was covered with a 4 inch thick concrete pad on top of the floor, and the location of the well was lost after that due to renovations of the bottling plant.

When this area of this museum was restored in 1992, the 4 inch slab had to be removed to level the floor. A jackhammer went through the floor in that small circle and hit one of the bricks. The well had been found and Museum Director Joe Cavanaugh had the circular area of floor removed, exposing the top of the entire well for the first time in over 60 years.

The well was excavated to 27 _ feet, and 47 _ barrels of broken glass were retrieved from the well during excavation.

The well exhibit is a fascinating thing to look and read about. Actual bottles that were found in the well are displayed in a case, and a few pictures of Baylor students who helped excavate the well are shown also. Not to mention photos of Harry Ellis, Joe Cavanaugh and what the well looked like when it was discovered. This is a living well and during wet seasons, the groundwater can be seen in the bottom of the well, with the help from lights that are attached to the inside of the well.

*Uses for a well:
• No soft drink plant can exist without a water supply
• Water is used for---washing bottles, production of syrup, production of carbonated water, and emergency use for fire control
• Soft drinks are 86%-93% water

*Facts about the Artesian Well:
• The top 8 feet of brick are mortared
• Depth is unknown
• The well is cleared to a depth of 27 _ feet, but it’s not the bottom
• Diameter---if this well is 4 feet inside diameter and 30 feet in depth, it would hold 2,819 gallons of water when full

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