I was digging through my archives and came across this e-mail from caver and author Roger Brucker, responding to my request for anything he might remember about the well house — described so vaguely in Will Crowther’s 1976 game “Colossal Cave Adventure,” but such a real-seeming place.
The wellhouse was one of a series of concrete catchments placed by the NPS [National Park Service] around the flanks of Flint Ridge. These mostly collected water draining from perched springs on top of the Big Clifty Sandstone, and routed water via pumps to collecting tanks on top of Flint Ridge. The original water collection system was built by the CCC in the
1930s. It was to supply the CCC camp AND Mammoth Cave hotel and visitor center. Around 1960 the NPS reactivated some of the system to provide more potable water for the upcoming Job Corps camp to be built at the site of the old CCC camp on Flint Ridge. CRF told the NPS this water system would be
inadequate because during the summer when they needed the most water, the least
amount would be supplied. Our prediction turned out true, and a waterline was
brought in from out of the park. So the wellhouse was really a pump house, a
relic of that old water system. To my
knowledge it was not functioning in 1960, when I recall seeing it for the first
and last time. My recollection is dim: I
remember a 6 ft. x 6 ft. sandstone building with a cedar shingle roof and a
sagging or missing door. It may have had
moss on the roof. I think it did not contain a pump. And I do not recall a spring or pool of water in it.