As the city of Ogden grew into a transportation and finance center in the early 1900s, new sources of fresh water were needed to sustain the growing population. Beginning in 1914 a series of artesian wells was dug near the confluence of the North, South, and Middle Forks of the Ogden River in Ogden Valley. Ultimately, fifty-one wells were drilled at irregular intervals into the 1930s, and the area came to be known as Artesian Park. In 1929, a typhoid outbreak from contaminated water in nearby Wheeler Creek increased the rate at which the wells were drilled.
The wells in Artesian Park were possible because of several conditions in the area. Thick clay deposits from Lake Bonneville helped produce the proper environment for artesian wells. The wells were also cyclically refilled by rainfall and snow as well as seepage from nearby rivers and streams.
A Department of Interior study conducted in the early 1930s and published in 1937 showed that in the year between September 1933 and October 1934, eleven-thousand-seven-hundred-and-fifty acre feet of water came from Artesian Park. Nineteen of the fifty-one wells could be opened or closed, twenty-five had concrete catch basins, and many could be pumped with compressed air. In 1933, those wells served 40,000 Ogden residents.
The end of Artesian Park was brought about with the construction of Pineview Dam, which was begun in 1935 and was completed in 1937. The reservoir flooded ArtesianPark under thirty to forty feet of water. However, the wells were sunk five feet into the clay and the water continued to be piped to Ogden. The added pressure from the reservoir increased water pressure from the wells. The submerged artesian wells continued to feed Ogden until 1956 when Pineview Dam was renovated and enlarged.
Image: Artesian Park, Ogden Valley, 1920. Wells, on the Ogden Canyon Line, which are now deep under the water of Pineview Dam, were a popular picnic area. Note the excursion of cars and the old railroad in the background. Courtesy of Utah State Historical Society.
See F. Ross Peterson and Robert E. Parson, Ogden City: Its Governmental Legacy, A Sesquicentennial History (Ogden: Chapelle Limited, 2001) 114-119. Also see R.M. Leggette and G.H. Taylor, Geology and Ground-Water Resources of Ogden Valley, Utah, United States Department of the Interior (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1937) 99-143. See also Milton R. Hunter, Beneath Ben Lomond’s Peak: A History of Weber County, 1824-1900. Daughters of Utah Pioneers, WeberCounty Chapter