Deep in the southern Idaho desert, twenty miles from anything, lie the ruins of an old homestead called Sparks Well. I had heard of the place but, finding the area grottos and caves more inviting, never ventured any farther. Then about a month ago my youngest brother showed me pictures of the site and a story plot came to mind. Wanting to explore my idea further, I persuaded him to take me out there. We made the trek a couple of weeks ago, navigating the bone-shaking trail through dust and heat across the Great Rift in the Craters of the Moon national monument. As we traveled I had to wonder why anyone would want to live in such a godforsaken place. Wild, windswept, and sunbaked, mercilessly hot during summer and bitterly cold in winter, this is no place for the timid. The treacherous terrain would humble even the proudest.
At last we arrived. I found the place intriguing and a little spooky. Only the crumbling walls of two lava rock buildings remain, surrounded by rusty remnants of bygone days. I wished they could talk. Imagine the stories they might tell! My fertile imagination kicked into high gear as story ideas grew.
I walked through the front door, ducking under a tall sagebrush as I entered the house. Mounds of earth, a beam that must have supported the roof, and a few tin cans littered the ground. The wall above separated this room from what appeared to be an addition to the house; little of that part remained.
Leaving the house, I walked to the west end of the site where, ravaged by time and bullets, this burning barrel kept a silent watch.
These items, forlorn and forgotten, lay scattered around the broken walls. Whatever happened to the people living here? The plot thickens!
This type of place fascinates me! I tried finding some history on Sparks and his well, but my search yielded little. Apparently, in 1937 well drillers found gold-bearing gravel some 800 feet down. Local legend holds that Sparks’ son was lowered into the shaft in a barrel. Tragically, something gave and the barrel plunged to the bottom. He was brought up alive but died on the way to town.
This is Sparks Well. Rocks tossed down its shaft echo eerily as they fall. I found a YouTube post that nails it perfectly. Click here to listen.
The ideas are coming fast and furious, and hopefully I can pull the story together in the next few months. Stay tuned!