Jacob’s Well is a famous swimming hole near Wimberly, Texas. It’s a karstic spring – fed by an aquifer that feeds into nearby Cypress Creek and a rite of passage for many folks in central Texas looking to beat the heat on the area’s searing summer afternoons.
There’s a certain allure to Jacob’s Well. Indeed, it’s hard not to at least lie on the edge of its 12 foot diameter mouth and gaze deep into the hypnotic blue water that seems to plummet below.
Like the Devil’s Kettle Falls in Minnesota from Jennifer’s Body, Jacob’s Well is one of the most celebrated geological freaks in North America. It’s very tempting to do as many have done at just jump in to this ultimate swimming hole. The problem with that: Jacob’s Well is deep – like, REALLY deep – and is a series of caverns and passages where you can easily get stuck.
How Deep is Jacob’s Well?
The ‘swimming hole’ is about 30 feet deep and slightly more narrow that its 12 foot diameter. But it goes deeper (and narrower) than that. From there, Jacob’s Well becomes a series of silted chambers and tight passageways that wind and distort their way down to an average depth of about 120 feet.
The Well is actually an intricate system of underwater tunnels. The deepest point is 137 feet, according to Jacob’s Well Exploration Project (JWEP), with two primary conduits: Tunnel A, which extends northwesterly about 4,500 feet from the spring’s opening (yes, it’s that big). The Well’s maximum depth occurs in this tunnel.
The second conduit, Tunnel B, moves northerly, about 1,500 feet from where swimmers typically jump in to the deceptive swimming hole.
Jacob’s Well Deaths
The danger of Jacob’s Well is the risk of getting stuck in any of these narrow passage ways. It’s a popular spot for both scuba divers and even braver folks who venture down while holding their breath, like this man – 21 year old Diego Adame, who lost a flipper and cut his weight belt to make it before things got ugly.
While there’s no precise number, at least 8 people have died at Jacob’s Well. In 1979, two young men from Texas who were trapped in one of the Well’s many passageways.
One of the bodies was flushed out of the Well naturally in 1981. The second was recovered by divers in 2000.
Consider that many people consider underwater cave diving the most dangerous of all sports and it’s pretty clear that you don’t want to dive here.
Yet ironically, one of the biggest dangers at Jacob’s Well in 2017 may be that it won’t be around in several decades. The Trinity Aquifer, which feeds the Well, ceased flowing for the first time in known history back in 2000, and again in 2008.
The aquifer’s levels are ‘a faint ripple’ now on Cypress Creek, and a fraction of what they were prior to development in the area. Hays Country bought 50 acres around the Well in an effort to protect the spring from further development. Whether that’s enough, or more extensive efforts will be required, Jacob’s Well is here at the moment, and remains a beautiful, yet seductive tradition for many folks who want to beat the heat in this corner of the Lone Star State just south of Austin.