Adventures With Carolyn
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The Big Basin Prairie Preserve and St. Jacob's Well

File this post under Kansas.  We were traveling home from a weekend in Nebraska and we made a little detour to check out a spot on the map that said "Big Basin Prairie Preserve and St. Jacob's Well" - geological history is fascinating to me as much as the history of the prairie and the plains.  

Big Basin in SW Kansas -8474

The Big Basin and Little Basin which is nearby are natural sinkholes caused by the salts dissolving underneath the earth.  You drive through the sinkhole to the entrance of the preserve.  

Big Basin Prairie Preserve in SW Kansas -8659

Then you drive up a gravel road into the prairie preserve and look for the other spot on the map. It was a warm September Sunday as we drove out on the prairie in the Big Basin Preserve.  We didn't see any buffalo and made it down some rough gravel roads. Big Basin Prairie Preserve in SW Kansas -8500


The prairie stretches across Kansas like a vast, endless sea,  but it is not "flat as a pancake" or as simple as many people like to imagine Kansas to be.  You go from the Flint Hills to the High Plains and then return to these rolling prairies.  The Plains are not as plain as you think.   


Big Basin Prairie Preserve in SW Kansas -8498

Here you can see the floor of the Big Basin.  

St. Jacob's Well in the Big Basin Prairie Preserve-8507

We finally made it to St. Jacob's Well, but you could only see the tops of the cottonwood trees.  I really didn't know what to expect. I was thinking of places like El Morro in New Mexico, another famous watering hole in the west.  

St. Jacob's Well -8511-3


So we're walking down into the Little Basin and I bet you can't imagine that this is Kansas.  

St. Jacob's Well in the Big Basin Prairie Preserve-8514

It's a steep little hike.  I'm very mindful of the potential for snakes right now since I know someone who was recently bitten by a rattler.  

St. Jacob's Well in the Big Basin Prairie Preserve-8614

Looking up you can see my boy sitting there watching and waiting on me to climb back to the top.  

St. Jacob's Well in the Big Basin Prairie Preserve-8604

I didn't read about this place until we got here.  I was amazed to find out that what appears to be a tiny pond is actually sixty feet deep.   

St. Jacob's Well -8582

Here is a historical image of St. Jacob's Well.  I still can't believe how deep this is.  It was called bottomless in some historical accounts and people told stories of fish without eyes coming from it.  

St. Jacob's Well -8552

The turtles were happy swimming around in their oasis on the plains.  

St. Jacob's Well in the Big Basin Prairie Preserve-8563

Lots of Dragonflies.   

St. Jacob's Well in the Big Basin Prairie Preserve-8531

I wonder how old this Cottonwood is?  

St. Jacob's Well in the Big Basin Prairie Preserve-8529

Another view of the well.  

Western Kansas at St. Jacob's Well-8603

This is worth the time to stop and visit, if you happen to be going to the Oklahoma Panhandle or Dodge City or Liberal.  


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