Home > Wise Water Words > 2016 > Spring 2016 > From the Archives

From the Archives: Bazile Mills

George H. Brooks filed a Homestead claim in 1870, which became the Village of Bazile Mills. A mill was built on the Bazile Creek and ground flour for the surrounding countryside.

Water for drinking came from a spring creek that flowed into the Bazile. Some people built cisterns to hold rain water. Others dug wells, but the vein of water was not adequate and they would pump dry.

The big problem was how to bring a water supply from the Spring Creek up to the town, which was at a higher altitude.

Henry F. Saunders, a grandson of George H. Brooks, had been hearing and reading about a hydraulic ram. He thought it could pump the spring water up the hillside to a water tank on top of a hill. Then, there would be enough fall to carry water through pipes where it was needed.

He talked his idea over with his father, Sanford Saunders, and aunt, Mrs. William Saunders. They both agreed to take care of the expense of the project if he took charge of it.

A surveyor at the county seat of Niobrara, by the name of Quimby, was sent for and he found the conditions were perfect for a hydraulic systyem. Therefore, in 1895 the project was completed to bring water to the three Saunders family homes.

The town itself was still without good water. With some more studying and more surveying, Henry Saunders laid out a plan to pump water across the Bazile Creek, up Main Street, and then into a tank on the high hill in the west part of town. An uncle, George A. Brooks, agreed to finance this project and a larger ram was ordered.

There was no charge for the water, just the work and the expense of pipes and fittings. Each resident took care of his own water system from the main pipeline. Some of the business places were taken care of before the rest of the residents of town put water into their own homes.

The old hydraulic rams supplied water for Bazile Mills until a flood in June of 1957 silted in the rams. Also, impurities from different places, not existing in early years, had seeped into the Spring Creek so the water was unfit for human consumption. A well was put down in the Spring Creek area the same summer of 1957 and is in use at this time.

An electric pump was installed to force the water up to the supply tank. In 1961 and 1972 new pipes were laid. Also in 1972, a new supply tank was put up as the old one was cracking and leaking too much to repair since it was underground.

The new supply tank was bought at Fairfax, South Dakota, and installed further up the hill and on top of the ground. In 1978, a larger pipeline was laid so more water could be carried to the supply tank and in less time.