City Park and Artesian Wells, Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin

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Prairie du Chien can boast of one of the prettiest public parks in southern Wisconsin. It is located just south of Bluff Street, which is the main business thoroughfare of the city. Minnesota Street runs on the east, Wisconsin Street on the south, the grounds being in block 90 of the Union plat. The land embraced within this beautiful park was purchased of H. L. Dousman, Jr. The principal attraction of this spot is the fountain formed by the perpetual flow of the artesian well, situated within the enclosure of the park. A very neat and substantial fence encloses the grounds, which are made charming by an abundance of choice shade trees, including some fine evergreens of symmetrical proportions.

Artesian Wells

One of the peculiar and interesting features of the city of Prairie du Chien is its several mammoth artesian wells. To the late Judge Ira B. Brunson belongs the credit of proposing and urging the undertaking of opening an artesian well at this city. The subject was discussed by the judge in so earnest and hopeful a manner that he soon had other prominent citizens interested in the project.

The drilling of a well was commenced in the latter part of 1875, without any formal organization and before its completion, a public meeting was held (May 26, 1876) for the purpose of organizing a joint stock company.

Judge Ira B. Brunson was chosen president, and Mr. L. Case, secretary, of the meeting. A committee on organization was appointed, consisting of B. F. Fay, A. Denio and W. B. Hunt. A second meeting was held June 23, 1876, and the organization was perfected. Judge I. B. Brunson was elected president, and E. M. Wright secretary. A board of directors was chosen, consisting of B. F. Fay, Lawrence Case, T. L. Brower, H. Beach, M. Menges, I. B. Brunson and W. B. Hunt.

Articles of association were adopted, and the capital stock fixed at $10,000. The association was to be known as the Prairie du Chien Artesian Well Company. Stock was readily taken, and the work pushed to a speedy completion. The diameter of the tube is six inches, and the well was sunk to the depth of 960 feet, when a powerful stream of mineral water was struck which was found to flow at the rate of twenty barrels per minute, and with sufficient force to rise to the height of seventy feet.

An analysis of the water was made by a competent chemist with the following showing per gallon:


Bicarbonate of lime     6222
Bicarbonate of magnesia10.9739
Chloride of sodium90.2007
Chloride of potassium 3.8064
Bromide of sodium    1281
Sulphate of soda12.7978
Sulphate of lime15.3699
Bicarbonate of iron     2318
Aluminia     0610
Silica  2.8430
Phosphate of soda   Trace
Organic matter   Trace

The water is said to be a powerful remedial agent in rheumatism, dyspepsia and numerous other diseases. The original cost of the well was $4200, which was the amount of stock issued. The additional improvements, including mains and hydrants extending down Bluff Street to the foot of Main, cost $2,500. A still further expense has been incurred for copper pipe for lining main pipe to the rock. The present annual income is between $600 and $700. The company, with a view of developing the business, has granted the sole right of sale of the water for a term of ten years from July 1, 1883 to Henry F. Schultz, of Milwaukee, for a nominal sum.

The present officers, (1884), are M. Menges, president; Wm. Newton, superintendent and secretary.

The well is situated on the northwest corner of Minnesota and Wisconsin streets. The surplus water is conducted to Bluff street and there divides equally and passes down the open gutters, which are paved with stone, thus presenting the curious and agreeable spectacle of two brooklets of clear, sparkling water, flowing one on either side of the principal business street of the city, while at frequent intervals open hydrants pour out a never-ceasing stream. Drinking cups and watering tubs supply the thirsty mortal or beast with abundant opportunity for quenching thirst. Two wells of this kind propel a flouring mill in the heart of the city, and Mr. T. L. Brower has another similar well at Lower Town, which throws an immense volume of water. It is situated in a beautiful private park of Mr. Brower’s designing, and supplies a miniature lake. Besides the main fountain, which forms so interesting a feature of the park, another fed by the well, through pipes, throws its bright waters high in the air, on the beautiful lawn that fronts the owner’s residence. Still another no less beautiful fountain than Mr. Brower’s ornaments the beautiful grounds of the Dousman mansion near the river.

History of Crawford and Richland Counties, Wisconsin: Together with Sketches of Their Towns and Villages, Educational, Civil, Military, and Political History, Portraits of Prominent Persons, and Biographies of Representative Citizens ; History of Wisconsin : Embracing Accounts of the Pre-historic Races, and a Brief Account of Its Territorial and State Governments, Part 1. Crawford County (WI): Union Publishing Company, 1884.

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