Friday, October 24, 2014

The Cheyenne Wells

Near the headwaters of the Smoky Hill River is the wells that the Indians had dug out.  It is also the name  a town to south used, Cheyenne Wells, CO. 

The Indian wells had been hand dug over the years along the banks of the creek.  Looking at the sand creek, one would see no water.  Yet along here there are small springs and if one scoops out some sand, the hole will fill up with water.  Knowing this the Indians would use this for their water source as they roamed over the plains in search of the buffalo. 

Curved back into the bank of the creek the Indians had a nice cool place in the summer to get out of the heat.  Into the side of the stream a small cave had been carved for protection and the water from the springs kept the cave nice and cool.

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Then gold was discovered in the mountains to the west and gold fever was under way.  This watering hole became and important stop on the journey west.  The Smoky Hill Trail marked this as a water stop on the trail map and later it was a stage stop. 

The white man enlarged the cave over the years to the point where a team of horses with wagon could be driven into the cave and be turned.  It had become a cavern.  Even after the railroad went to the south these wells were still used to wagon travelers. 

Some local people said it was to big and could no longer support the span.  There was fear it would collapse.  For years it stood the test of time.  Then in the 1930’s there was a clamor it was unsafe.  A local to it on himself to make it safe. 

He walked into the cave with dynamite.  Walked back out and watched a cloud of dust belch out from the cave the Indians had begun centuries earlier.

Today it is a desolate spot on the prairie.  The springs ooze out of the ground only to disappear into the sand.  Near by is a pump, not for water, rather black gold.  What had been an important oasis, is now forgotten empty spaces.

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