Drilling A Water Well

Cec talked LJ Henderson into bringing a track drill, normally used to drill holes for blasting rock, down to Smithwick to drill a water well. That wasn’t the conventional way to drill a water well, but Cecil Lewis and LJ Henderson weren’t your conventional guys either.

After going down close to 100′, they hit water. When drilling with a track drill, the operator would stand right next to the hole being drilled,so all of the dust and rock cuttings being blown from the hole come out and cover the driller. Very few jobs could be dirtier.

This is the same type of machine – A Gardner Denver Track Drill

When the drill bit reached the water table, that dust turned to mud. By the end of the day, LJ and his helper Dorman had mud more than an inch thick covering their entire body’s.

LJ had a brand new gold colored 1962 Chevrolet 1/2 ton pickup. I was 10 years old. There were only the 3 of us there when they finished and parked their drill rig. Job done.

We headed down toward the lake. All was going good until we got to the gate, which had been left open. I failed to line up properly, and it was a fairly narrow gate opening, which resulted in gate post wiping out the right side of that pickup from the front bumper to the back bumper. I knew things hadn’t gone well, but I continued on down to the lake.

LJ said to me “you can drive can’t you“, as he and Dorman both climbed in the back of the pickup. They wanted to go down to the lake and get the mud off of them. “Sure I can drive“, I proclaimed.

I can still remember seeing the grin on his face, showing through the mud, as he stood there looking at the side of that pickup shaking his head. He said “well we made it”. After they finished washing the mud off, they came back to the pickup and LJ said, “haul us back up there, but when you get up to gate, just try to hug that post on the right so I don’t have to fix both sides”.
We made it just fine.

Cec drove up about the time we got back up to the well site. When he saw what had happened and found out I was the one driving, he said “hell LJ, didn’t you know that boy couldn’t drive”, to which LJ said “well at least I didn’t get mud all over the inside of my new pickup Cecil”.

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