Environmental Studies Program

 

Date of this Version

Spring 2010

Abstract

ABSTRACT

Nebraska has a veritable wealth of groundwater. The High Plains Aquifer underlies most of the state, and within its sand and gravel deposits, many interconnected aquifers provide fresh water for a variety of uses.

One of the most spectacular examples of this resource is the artesian well. Beaver Crossing, Nebraska was once home to one of the most prolific artesian systems in the state before its demise. Founded in the 1880’s, Beaver Crossing soon became known for its many artesian wells, that provided leisure activities and supported profitable business ventures such as small farming, ice production and aquiculture. Eventually these wells would dry up and the town of Beaver Crossing would never see the level of commerce and activity that it saw during its early years.

I decided to research this subject because I lived in Beaver Crossing for twelve years. While I lived there I heard stories about the artesian wells, the nationally recognized lily pond, and the large public pool fed by underground water that was plentiful around town. I was interested in knowing what happened to the water, the wells, the pool and businesses. . . And, in the wake of their disappearance, what happened to the town.

To research this topic I looked at accounts of the history of Seward County and Beaver Crossing. I also studied the basic geology underlying the Great Plains, as well as local geology and issues pertaining to groundwater levels, such as rainfall amounts, drought and irrigation.

As irrigation became a factor in rural Nebraska and through several documented droughts, groundwater levels all over the state declined. At the same time the artesian system in Beaver Crossing all but disappeared.

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