Southwest of Austin, in Hays County, Texas, lies one of the world’s most dangerous diving spots. Jacob ‘s Well is an artesian spring that releases thousands of gallons of water every day and is Texas’ second largest fully submerged cave.
The well has a vertical drop of nearly 30 feet, with angled chambers bringing the average depth to around 120 feet. This “never-ending” well has claimed the lives of at least nine people, according to Tibi Puiu, a writer for ZME Science.
Its beautiful scenery and near-constant 68-degree Fahrenheit waters bring in visitors and divers from all over the world.
What is Jacob’s Well?
Jacob’s Well is a spring and the headwaters to Cypress Creek. The fan favorite swimming spot of Wimberley, Texas is supplied by the Trinity aquifer, around 140 feet below the spring’s surface. Nature lovers come year-round to dip their toes in the warm water.
Below the spring lies an extremely dangerous cave system that only professional cave diving researchers can explore. This precaution is necessary due to past casualties at Jacob’s Well as stated by the Visit Wimberley website.
While attempting to improve and maintain the ecosystem, researchers have learned that the cave system is nearly a mile in length and almost 140 feet deep.
8 or 9 – the exact figure is difficult to judge – people have perished in them as well. One man’s body was flushed out of the well in 1981, two years after his disappearance. Another, who died around the same time, was only recovered in 2000.
History of Jacob’s Well
Jacob’s Well was discovered by William C. Winters in the early 1850s, writes the Hays County government parks department.
Winters, an early settler of Wimberley, was hiking along Cypress Creek and stumbled upon an overflowing spring that he described as “like unto a well in Bible times.” It is that statement that gave Jacob’s Well its name.
Over the next 100 years, the Jacob’s Well Natural Area has had many different owners and remains a popular recreational destination to this day.
Jacob’s Well Today
Hays County has owned Jacob’s Well since 2010 thanks to voter-approved park bond funds. The Jacob’s Well’s Parks Department steadily works to restore, protect and preserve the natural area for the public to enjoy as it maintains the cultural and natural heritage that has made the park an essential part of the Wimberley experience.
Free tours led by the Master Naturalists of Hays County give the public an in-depth look at what the park has to offer.
The tours help to protect the natural area by raising awareness of environmental protection and the significance of environmental restoration. This Wimberly experience is not limited to tours. Visitors can swim, birdwatch and have picnics.
Mysterious and Deadly Attraction
Beauty and escaping the Texas heat are not the only reasons divers and visitors from around the world come to visit Jacob’s Well. Many people are seduced by the danger of the well and its deadly passage ways.
The sharp and narrow angles of the underground cave make it extremely dangerous to navigate. The tight openings make it easy for divers and their equipment to get stuck beneath the water, according to Aimee Lamoureux, writing for All That’s Interesting.
Though no one is sure of the exact number of casualties at Jacob’s Well, there are eight confirmed deaths. Some human remains have taken years to be recovered due to the depth of the well.
Lamoureux reports that the body of Kent Maupin, a diver who went down to the caves in 1979, was not discovered until twenty years later when divers found his remains during a mapping expedition.
However, despite the inherent dangers, Jacob’s Well Natural Area continues to be a popular tourist and diving spot, and it is unlikely that will change in the near future.