Old undiscovered well swallows Spanaway man

Update: I spoke to Dick Husted this morning (2/15/2017) at a Graham Business Association meeting and he said this video shows what happened during this event. The pitchfork injured his left elbow leaving him with a little nerve damage in his arm & hand, but otherwise, he has a very amazing story to tell.   ~Marianne


SPANAWAY, WA — A man fell down a well. That’s the short story of what happened at Waller Road and Military Road tonight, August 7. He was rescued from the hole by a large team of rescue workers, along with a large piece of concrete and a pitchfork that also fell in the hole. The man was taken for treatment at St. Joseph’s Hospital.DSC_3650

The man, age 68, was standing on the concrete floor of a shed. The floor gave away. What was underneath was a very large hole, most likely a very old well, covered many years ago. The concrete was about 2 inches thick over the top of this hole. The shed was about 8 feet square and about 12 feet high.

The property is adjacent to the Donation Land claim of John Montgomery, the first settler of Spanaway. Montgomery ran Spanueh Station, a farm operation for the Hudson’s Bay Company. According to old plat maps from the early 1900’s, it belonged to a man named B.M. Swayze. The property currently belongs to Dick and Lynne Husted.

The public information officer for Central Pierce Fire and Rescue said it was an old well. Looking in the hole, it was at least 10 feet across and possibly more. The ground under the sidewalk leading up to the shed sounded hollow underneath also. We backed away after taking the photos.

The well is about 20 feet deep. Although that may seem shallow, the water table at that location rises quite high in the winter. In the 1995, that area behind the house all the way to 22nd avenue flooded. There is a high aquifer in the area. Even in the 1860’s, a home owner in the area had to abandon his farmhouse and take over the Clover Creek schoolhouse to live in because of the flooding from that rising aquifer.

Since the editor of this newspaper is also a historian, we just happened to have a few old plat maps on file for the area. The property description is Section 26 Township 19 Range 03 Quarter 21.

We also color highlighted the area on the old maps. The black one is from about 1880 and we added the path of Military Road in blue as it is not otherwise on the map. The other map is from about 1915. The house on the property is listed as built in 1900 on the county GIS site.

It is unfortunate that he discovered the well in this fashion and the Post hopes he has a speedy recovery. We also hope he has a chance to look at these maps along with some other history sleuths, so we all can better determine where this well came from.

Department of Ecology well information.

Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department information about decommissioning of abandoned wells.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Kelly says:

    This is fascinating! I hope the man recovers completely. I’m not the best at reading these old maps, but I’m guessing this happened at Boulder Knoll Stables (formerly known as Plumlee Stables). I grew up in the first house on Waller Rd just south of Military. We definitely had our share of floods and threatened floods b/c of the high water table (didn’t this area used to be lake bottom?), but the high water table also blessed us with easy access to having our own well and the BEST drinking water.:)

    1. Yes, it is the former Plumlee Stables. There is a very hifgh water table there coming from 22nd Ave & 208th to Stoney lake along Waller then cuts north undert his property to 22nd Ave. again. The post contacted Spanaway Water regarding this as they have hydrology experience and can possibly provide some advice to the homeowners.

  2. Lori says:

    Makes me wonder how many other “covered” abandoned wells are out there?

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