The year was 1938. FDR was president and folks in Indiana were trying to recover from the Depression as well as a long drought. Many unemployed, unmarried men
from relief families joined the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) to get back on heir feet again. Pokagon's Pride and Joy Video
In Steuben County, Company 556 of the CCC was assigned to Pokagon State Park. Roger Woodcock, who’d joined the group two years before was on the crew that was sent to work toward the back of the park, just past what is now area 5 of the campground. His crew’s task was to build a new rock shelter. They hadn’t been working long when some of the men noticed water bubbling up from the ground. It turned out to be an artesian well, full of fresh, sweet, clean-tasting water. Delighted, the men put a pipe into the natural spring to keep the water continuously flowing.
Artesian wells are found all over the world. They occur when permeable material like sand and gravel or porous stone is sandwiched between two impermeable layers of rock or clay, which then squeeze the middle layer like a sponge. That forces the water to the surface without the use of a pump. The formation is similar to a geyser, minus the heat. They wells get their pure taste because the water is naturally filtered through a layer of gravel on its way down to the water table.
Roger Woodcock was quoted as calling the spring the workers’ “pride and joy.”
Today the never-ending stream of water still flows next to the aptly named Spring Shelter. Just like the CCC men of long ago, visitors to Pokagon can enjoy a fresh, cool sip from the spring or be serenaded by the flowing water as they picnic in the nearby shelter. The spring is tested often, but never treated and the water is free.
Erika Celeste is an award-winning journalist who has worked in radio, print, television, and marketing. She owns and operates New Moon Media Group where she’s written several documentaries and books.