The Spring at Small Farms Oral History Project

Spring at Small Farms, taken June 18, 2020

The Spring at Small Farms

Driving down Chase Street, heading south of 35th Avenue in Gary, Indiana, you can easily miss a roadside artesian well that has been flowing for close to a century. This small spring has had a large role to play in the communities that surrounded it. For almost three decades, from the 1950s through the 70s, it supplied drinking water to residents in the communities of Small Farms and Black Oak. During that period, those rural neighborhoods were without municipal services and relied on shallow private wells which were easily contaminated. The area’s water table was also compromised by an EPA Superfund site nearby. The artesian well drew from a different aquifer and was not affected. The spring is still in use today by those who need or prefer its waters.

This collection includes fifteen oral histories, photographs, and archival material which highlight different aspects and perspectives on the spring's history. It also includes narratives about the Black Oak Spring, another publicly-accessed well that was once located about a mile due west of the Chase Street spring.

Explore the links on the left to listen to interview excerpts organized by topic. Complete interviews and transcripts are accessed from the Browse by People page. A bibliography and additional photo albums are found in the Resources section, and you can learn more about the project on the About page.

Map indicating the location of the spring and other features in the Small Farms area