The Pringle Well

You can’t get a beer at Pringle’s watering hole like you can at the Hitchrail Bar and Restaurant but the town well sees just as much activity as the Rail does.
The Pringle well has become an unlikely hub for social activity. It started getting an influx of attention about the time the drought started affecting surrounding livestock water sources. The dry conditions weren’t what caused the Pringle well to gain such popularity but rather the well’s handy location.
It was thought that the original town well was going dry so an auxiliary one was drilled. When a repairable hole was discovered in the old waterline, the auxiliary well was no longer necessary. A fire hose was added to the auxiliary well head and it became used primarily for livestock water.
It was set up to be accessed one-way but has evolved into a social two-way street. Knowing what everybody hauls their water in and what time of day they typically go to the well makes it easy to anticipate who will be there.
Situated along a popular highway at the corner of the Pringle exit and Wind Cave Park junction, the well’s location makes a convenient place for neighbors to pull in and visit. Depending on the size of the water tanks getting filled there can be a lot of waiting and the company of friends often helps pass the time.
My husband frequently comes home a wellspring of information after getting a load of water. Neighbors will oftentimes stop to exchange the latest scoop on recent auctions, people, haying progress, rumors we heard, and recent area rainfall amounts.
The well site has been handy when wanting to catch or meet up with somebody. Numerous times my husband’s told me he’s going to try and catch someone at the Pringle well that he needs to talk to. Yet on days when we’re in a hurry so as to get other work done we don’t want to be found. When chatty locals catch us getting water on those kinds of days it can be tough to stay incognito.
Occasionally guys will show up while I’m filling tanks thinking my husband’s hauling water. Once they realize it’s me they’ll make small talk but always seem disappointed that my husband wasn’t getting water.
The time of day I typically get water I don’t get as many visitors and it makes waiting feel like a total waste of time unless I’m updating my grocery list, to-do list, or reading the paper. My kids handle waiting better than I do. They play games on the pickup and trailer; pick flowers in the road ditch, fish out floating algae in the tanks or run up to the Hitchrail to buy a snack. I usually end up observing the activity in town or on the highway since my wait time isn’t lengthy enough to allow leaving the tanks unattended to do errands. I know who is going fishing, moving haying equipment, having coffee at the Rail, getting their mail or buying groceries. Waiting around makes me anxious about the work I have yet to do and sometimes wish for the distraction of someone stopping by to visit.
Whether we’re doing a lot of waiting, watching, catching up with neighbors or filling water tanks, we always get our fill while we’re at the Pringle well.
column originally published July 12-28,2009

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