If you’re a property owner in Littlefield Township, you likely received the township’s bi-annual newsletter discussing the history of the free flowing wells in our area. If not, we’re sharing it with you below!
“Flowing wells (along with springs and geysers) symbolize the presence and mystery of subsurface water, and as such they have always evoked considerable public interest”. – (From Groundwater, Freeze and Cherry, 1979)
An artesian well is defined as an aquifer containing groundwater under positive pressure. The word artesian comes from the town of Artois in France, where the best known flowing artesian wells were drilled in the Middle Ages. A “flowing artesian well” runs clear, cold water without pumping — a real gift. Seeming to defy gravity, the water pressure builds up between layers of rock and is relieved when the water finds a path to the open air.
Emmet County has a large flowing well district that extends from Harbor Springs to Littlefield Township, mainly along the north side of Crooked Lake and Crooked River. In the late 1800s over 100 artesian flowing wells were identified from Conway to Alanson.
With the railroads making transportation to Northern Michigan accessible in the late 19th century and early 20th century, flowing wells attracted visitors to Michigan resorts that advertised the therapeutic benefits of their artesian mineral waters.
With the railroads making transportation to Northern Michigan accessible in the late 19th century and early 20th century, flowing wells attracted visitors to Michigan resorts that advertised the therapeutic benefits of their artesian mineral waters. In 1884, there was an effort to contain a flowing well in Oden in a search for suitable water for boiler use in the busy railroad engines of the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railway. There was an excellent flow, but the water was found to be too hard for use in boilers.
The flowing artesian well (fondly named Crystal’s Well by locals) on US 31 just north of Alanson has been a very popular spot for many years. Due to its location and easy access people often stop by to fill their water bottles.
This well was placed into the hands of Littlefield Township by the Fairbairn family to make sure the flowing well remained in public use.
This well was placed into the hands of Littlefield Township by the Fairbairn family to make sure the flowing well remained in public use. The township maintains 2 flowing artesian wells in Oden as well.
Some of the earliest water supply legislation in Michigan dealt with regulating the use of artesian wells. State regulations concerning flowing wells can be found at:
Unique video of Crystal’s Well (5 seconds of 5 images)