Finding Jacob’s Well
Finding Jacob’s Well
After visiting the site labeled on the USGS maps as Jacobs Well I had doubts about the identification of this place. After all, the explorer accounts described a pit 300 feet wide and 125 feet deep – this couldn’t be it! When I got home I began searching the map for another likely spot that may be the real Jacob’s Well. About a mile north of Jacobs Well I saw a round body of water named “The Crater”. Aha! This might be the real thing! I researched Indian names for JW but couldn’t find any for the the Crater. Finally, when I checked the General Land Office plats for Township 19N, Range 28E from 1882, I found Jacobs Well exactly where the USGS has it. Here is a portion of the plat showing it in Sections 8 and 17 with the “Zuni and Navajo Road” (Beale Road) passing to the south:
I then checked the old plat where “The Crater” is located and found no notation of a feature there. This means that the sinkhole known as “The Crater” opened up some time after 1882. It is now apparent that Jacobs Well has filled in completely leaving almost no trace of its former size and depth. I revisited the place with Andrew Wallace and Rose Ann & Harland Tompkins in November of 2001 and we found a large but faint round depression in the ground. This is all that’s left of Jacob’s Well.
Here’s how to get there:
From Interstate 40 in Arizona, exit at Navajo (exit 325) which is about 40 miles east of Holbrook. Proceed south on Navajo road 2007 across the railroad tracks and the Rio Puerco (it’s a dirt road for about the first mile but paved the rest of the way). After about 6 miles turn left on highway 2015 toward Navajo Springs. Stay on this road as it turns into highway 2030 and curves through the hills. After about 8 miles look for a small turnout on the south side of the road with a few trees (rare in this area) visible about a hundred yards off to the right. Park here (there’s a fence but no gate). You can see the remains of some water storage tanks and concrete foundations in the area south of you. The pit was a little to your right, west of the area with the trees. Note: Before you climb the fence to explore, be advised that you are on the Navajo Indian Reservation and a permit is required if you leave the highway. You can obtain an application for a free permit by calling the Navajo Nation Historic Preservation Department at (928) 871-7132.