St. Jacob’s Well is a water-filled sinkhole in the Big Basin Prairie Reserve just south of Minneola, Kansas. The Big Basin Prairie Preserve is 1,818 acres of native mixed grass prairie managed by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.
According to the legend, St.Jacob’s well it has never been empty, not even in the driest seasons. But that’s just one of the many popular stories about this mysterious body of water.
One local story, that has been whispered through the century, is that the well is actually bottomless, or maybe even connected to an underground spring that constantly feeds it and capable of washing away anything that fell in the well.
According another tale, there are bodies located somewhere down within its depths, doomed to float in the dark abyss.
One particularly campfire story about St. Jacob’s Well is that sometime in the 1890s, a “spectral cowboy,” appeared and, according to witnesses, let out “the most blood-curdlingest sound ever made on this here earth.” Yet another strange story is that the well’s water is full of blind fish.
However, it seems there isn’t any truth behind the various legends. The sinkhole isn’t bottomless, nor does it connect to a secret underground stream or contain sightless fish. So what about that cowboy? Well, he hasn’t made a peep since the sight of his now-infamous haunting!
Even if this watery wonder can’t be explained by a series of spooky theories, it’s still a beautiful place to visit. It is located within the Little Basin part of the Big Basin Prairie Reserve, which received its signature bowl-like shape after the sediments underlying the ground’s surface dissolved and collapsed.
Big Basin, Little Basin, and St. Jacob’s Well were formed in the recent geological past by a process known as solution-subsidence, a process that occurs when surface water gains access and dissolves underground deposits of salt, gypsum, or limestone. The overlaying layers of rock and minerals subside to fill the volume vacated by the water soluble deposits and is thought that the process to still be occurring, with small depressions that have been noted forming within Little Basin.
Historically, St. Jacob’s Well and Big Basin were used as landmarks and watering sites on trail drives that were bringing cattle from Texas. A Living Water Monument commemorates the area’s importance to early settlers.
Images from web.