Artesian Well


Drawing from one of Northern Wisconsin’s many aquifers, the Sprague Well has been supplying the Washburn community with clear artesian water since 1903.  Located at the entrance of Thompson’s West End Park, the well is enjoyed by the park’s active camping and RV community  as well as hikers, boaters, cyclists, and children from the nearby playground (who love to cover the end of the pipe to access a hidden water spout!).  Flowing year-long, the well is a beloved community landmark and water-cooler — whether it’s for a refill or a quick chat with locals!

A plaque located at well reads:

The Sprague Well, believed to be the first drilled artesian well in Bayfield County, was completed at 119 feet 8 inches in April, 1903 by Monroe H. Sprague at the mill office of the Akeley–Sprague Lumber Co. Flow from the 4 inch casing was rated at 224 gal. min. – “so free of minerals it was piped directly to the saw mill boilers.” In 1956 the flow was measured at 54 gal. min. from a one inch pipe and tested 104 ppm total mineral content. Long a fresh water treat for Washburn residents, it remains a landmark of early lumbering days on Chequamegon Bay.


An aquifer is layers of porous rock, sand, and stone that allows water to collect underground — much like a regular kitchen sponge.  Underground water filters through small holes and cracks within the rocks, sand, and loose material that makes up the aquifer, eventually saturating enough sediment to provide clear drinking water when tapped with a well.  Aquifers are huge storehouses of water and can be found all over the United States, some spanning 8 states: the Ogallala Aquifer.  Supplied by glacier water from the last ice age, the Ogallala Aquifer is one of the largest in the world.

For more information on our parks, local landmarks, and directions, contact the Washburn Area Chamber or stop by:

  • Washburn Area Chamber
    100 W Bayfield Street
    Washburn, WI
Artesian Well in Washburn