You and I are used to simply turning on the faucet to get that H2O goodness, but back in the day, people needed to travel to to the local well to get the water they needed. Today, only one of those wells still exists in Milwaukee; it is the Pryer Avenue Iron Well. After a classmate clued me into to this rare neighborhood treasure, I decided to check it out. Drilling of the artisan well began in 1882 and eventually reached depths of 1500 feet. More recently, a pump was installed in the aquifer after the natural pressure was not enough to force the water above land. The well has come a long way from is beginnings. It started as basically a naked pipe running straight out of the ground. Eventually the well came to have TWO spigets ( oh dang, we’re gettin high class now) surrounded by a concrete monolith. In 1980, it was declared a Milwaukee Landmark and is now surrounded by benches and potted plants to make it look perrty.
After my drive down to Bay View, I was thirsty, and how perfect that I was visiting a well. I grabbed my nalgene from the passenger seat and filled it up. While the water pressure was great, the taste was not. It’s clear to me now why its called “The Iron Well;” along with sulfur, the water has a strong metallic taste. But, a man I talked to who was filling up a couple of gallon jugs at the well, said that “this water’s good for ya. Not like that processed city stuff who has god knows what in it.” While the locals swear by the water from the Pryer Avenue Well, I don’t think I’ll be back to stock up on this “natural” H2O any time soon.