Digging My First Well (?)

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mrcure

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Long time, no post. Trying to keep the forum alive and would rather not post on Bragbook. As always, feedback or recommendations are welcome because I'm a noob.

After searching for over a year across different states, I believe I finally found my first undug well. I happened upon this spot by pure luck in an abandoned lot with tree cover. The only thing that could make this dig spot better is finding some nice old glass at the bottom ;)

Once I saw the giant, crumbling tree at the center of the scrub spot, I felt I had a really good chance of finding something. Luck, coincidence, or something else led me to a depression in the ground where I could spot a few bricks sticking out. Initially I just thought this might be leftovers from a demolished building or lot filler, but after some really tough digging I noticed a familiar pattern of a round arrangement of bricks that I've seen in pictures. This "well" is about 2-3 feet in diameter.

Admittedly I have no idea what I'm doing. I get to a point 16" down where I hit hard clay but can see the brick wall keeps going further down. I call a friend to confirm what I'm seeing and get the green light to DIG. This clay cap layer would have been used to seal the well and can vary in depth, so I went to digging using a variety of techniques to help me chip away the hard clay. Hardest stuff I've had to dig so far.

Two china fragments (under the clay) and modern glass (before the clay layer) unearthed but nothing notable so far. I feel like I'm mostly through the hard clay layer, but the pit is so narrow and deep that it's getting tough to pull dirt out. I finished the day with worn hands and back with about 30" or so dirt and clay pulled out. I think I'll bring a bucket next time.

By the end of the day, I was proud to have found the spot but ashamed at how little progress I made by myself in a few hours. Tomorrow at the crack of dawn I'll be back at it again with the goal of completing this dig 100% by tomorrow. I don't think I can afford to wait another week because the trees would lose their coverage and expose me for the dirty digger I am.
 

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Len

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mrcure,
Have you gone over an old map of the area that might tell you what kind of structure was nearby? Sometimes that will give you a hint as to what you may find. Then there's the unexpected*.. In any case, --so far you have a sturdy well made structure that seems pretty dry--so good. An excellent beginning.

*-About 15 yrs. ago CT State Archaeologist Nick Bellentoni's book had a chapter about a well dig in (?)Phila. I won't say here what he found. He's up at UCONN if you want to shoot him an email, you can contact me via our one to one envelope message system, or I suppose you can get the book. Its very good.:)

PS- Let's rule out the rubber Mayan basketball right away. Btw, did you know the losing team was traditionally put to death? Seriously, you NBA fans! :rolleyes:
 

hemihampton

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Here's a link to the last Well I dug, 15 feet deep. The guys I was digging it with wanted tio stop & not reach Bottom. I said I couldn't sleep at night if I don't hit Bottom & said I'll hit bottom by myself if I have to. Because I was convinced thats where all the Bottles were just waiting for me/us. Like Privy's the good Bottles usually at Bottom. SO, 15 Feet we went till we hit Bottom. And what did we find? Not much, not the Pot of Gold I was expecting. BUT, We did get a few Bottles. The best 2 being a Cobalt Blue Guyette Hutch & Cobalt Blue Norris Hutch, both from Detroit & in Good Shape so to me worth it. Even though I got a bad case of Claustrophobia but forced myself to overcome it. LEON.

 

mrcure

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That well dig was a fun read @hemihampton . I am not claustrophobic but I was feeling silly today being down in that old well.

Thank you for the reassurance @Len. I actually can't find this towns Sanborn map. It's strange because it's always been a large town even on civil war maps but for some reason the sanborns don't exist. It's also gone by various names in the past, so maybe that's the missing link....hmmm
 

mrcure

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Dig Update:

Re-energized and fresh of mind, I drove back to this site and got back digging. This time I wasn't going to let my hands and back be my weak point so I came equipped with heavy duty gloves and a bucket for hauling dirt.

Well I was wrong about the clay-there was a lot more of it. The clay layer in this well was about 2-3 feet thick. After further optimizing my clay digging techniques and making strong progress, I finally got into a softer clay/dirt layer. Interesting. Next I see...Fragments of..plastic? Heavy duty trash cans, modern glass, wood with old nails, and tons and tons of bricks kept popping up as the soil slowly became easier to dig. I guess this was a bad sign but I'm not giving up. (8ft) I find my first bottle! But...it's 80s busted junk. What the heck.

(10ft) Slowly, the soil kept loosening and fragments of random things were popping up. Next I hit a loose soil brick layer so I just kept pulling bricks out of the pit. After doing this excitedly for about a half hour, I eventually struck water so I got a little hesitant about my next steps. I felt around in the mud and found a cork top 3iii bottle which gave me a little more confidence to move forward if not for the pool of water before me.

I probe down and find I'm standing on a stack of bricks and that the well goes down for another 5+ feet under water. Didn't feel any bottles, but who knows what's down there..


At this rate I'm not exactly sure what to do next. I'd like to have a dig buddy help with a bucket/ladder/etc. To bail out the well but I'm not even sure this is safe. Any ideas as to what to do next?

Thanks everyone!
 

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mrcure

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Where I left off and the 3iii bottle in situ.
 

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Mailman1960

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Where I left off and the 3iii bottle in situ.
Holy crap, looks like you got pretty far ready. If they were using to throw their garbage in you wouldn't think there's so much clay, not close by or I'll be there tomorrow. I do have a little project I'm working on that's along the same as yours I'll post the picture soon Good luck
 

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