Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I was on my way home from Sis's in OKC Monday, and decided to take a detour. I have no idea how many times I've driven by the entrance to The Big Basin and St. Jacob's Well - a state funded preserved area without stopping. The Big Basin is thought to be formed by a humongous salt deposit gradually eroding until the ground above it fell in - somewhat like a sinkhole. The well supposedly runs all the time and was a stopping point for cattle drives and travelers across the prairie. I'm sure the Indians knew all about it as well.

The location is south of Minneola, KS, east of Meade, KS and west NW of Ashland KS on US 283 on the east side of the highway. Access is primitive - it's a river rock covered two track lane, which for all the world looks very much like the oilfield access roads I traverse frequently. The tracks are somewhat rutted, so something with a little more than average ground clearance might be necessary to visit the area. There were a couple of forks and I kept bearing to the right. The first left would probably take you to the pens seen below. It was  also raining slightly, which really messed up my light. I took a ton of pics, but these are the best.

After driving in for well over a mile, I ran across a pullover area that overlooked a bluff. This is when I discovered the place kept buffalo. There are really quite a few herds scattered over Kansas and I've been meaning to get pictures if they'd cooperate and lounge near the fences near the highways I travel in the truck. There is a large herd north of Scott City on US 83, but they are kept on a huge tract of rough ground like this, and are usually a mile or better from the road. You can still see 'em, just not a good photo op.

At any rate, this fellow (and I'm assuming it was a fella watching over the herd, his bona fides were too far away to see) was the closest and wasn't particularly interested in me as a threat. I was facing the west for this pic.

Same spot, no zoom but pointed south. You can see the opposite side of the basin, as well as more buffs.

A picture of my buddy not zoomed, showing the high rock formation. This was hardly the high point in the joint.

Another couple miles of driving - one has to go east, then south and back to the west to get here is the actual well. To the left is the outline of a platform that hugs the edge of the bluff, and in front of the sign is the beginning of the trail down to the well. If you want to see pictures of the well, go here. There was far too much elevation change in too short an area for my fat butt, if you know what I mean and I think that you do.

This closeup of the sign shows the marker placed on the hill behind. THAT is the high spot, and the marker was placed so people could see it from a long distance and find the well for water.

At the edge of the platform looking down, the path winding it's way to the well surrounded by the trees. You really should go see the pictures in the link above, pretty impressive.

This is the marker with a spot for a long lost plaque. I'm sure some damned vandal stole it years ago, whatever was placed there.

The view from up high slightly WSW. Luckily a track led up to the "peak" that I could drive to, but I don't think some low slung sedan or sports car, or a lowered and tricked out slammer would want any part of that trip. I was considering using my four wheel drive, but I made it ok - the rocks embedded in the road really helped. If it was dirt, I'd have needed it.


Kansas might be the Bread Basket to the World, but it's not because all the ground is perfectly flat and is farmed. Nope, there is some pretty rough country hidden between the wheat fields, one just has to know where to look. Besides, where are we gonna put our cattle? They're always on pasture ground too rough for farming.


threecollie said...

Saw Kansas when we went to auctioneering school. Liked it. Really interesting post. Thanks, and happy Thanksgiving.

Anonymous said...

Looks very similar to steppe behind south Ural (in Kazakhstan), how I remember it. I was 6; impressed me so much I still can picture it.
Only it was with water, Irtysh-river.

And instead of your menacing fellow traveler there were sheep...

Anonymous said...

Have a great Thanksgiving, Jeffro!

drjim said...

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, Jeffro!

lisa said...

Great post, Happy Thanksgiving!

Anonymous said...

took a lady out there one time..... sa

Jeffro said...

s: Color me shocked! ;)