Traders in the caravans coming to California did not just trade with those at the missions, but with any group or community they came across. The little settlement of Agua Mansa enjoyed the benefit of being the first village of any size once the mule trains dropped in from the mountains after crossing the deserts.
It was called Aqua Mansa, meaning Gentle Water, and was composed entirely of immigrants from New Mexico, numbering some 200 souls–simple, good souls they were, too, primitive in their style of living, kind and hospitable to strangers, rich in all that went to make people happy and content, never having been, up to that time, vexed by the unceremonious calls of the tax collector, owing allegiance to none save the simple, kindhearted old priest who looked after their spiritual welfare. With peace and plenty surrounding them, the good people of Aqua Mansa went to make as contented and happy of people as could be found in the universe.
Coso Hot Springs was known to the Native Americans for its curative powers. They would bring their sick to this place to heal. It wasn’t a myth, the hot springs really did help those with nearly any physical ailments. The waters worked so well that Coso became a health resort attraction active well on into the 20th century.
Millie De Lapin was a small woman. Diminutive and quite pretty. She had dark, almond-shaped eyes, her little nose was turned up at the end, dimpled cheeks and red lips slightly curved into a slightly crooked smile, and her raven-black hair was cut short, showing off a long neck that helped to give her an angelic and innocent look.
Beverly Montgomery ‘Monty’ Kadorkien was a dashing young lieutenant in the U.S. army. He was also a drinker, gambler, womanizer, liar, and possessed the weakest of morals. When the lieutenant learned he would be stationed in the Philippines, he feared staying in the dingy junior officer’s quarters would be detrimental to his style. If he were married, however, his wife and he would be given a spacious apartment to live in. Monty married the first girl he could fast-talk, sweet Millie.
He dazzled Millie and gained her hand in marriage. He cheated on her the day before and after their wedding, however. Monty was to have many other affairs during those warm nights. Millie, however, was faithful and had an undeserved patience with him.
Manila was disgusting to Millie; humid, dirty, crowded, the water fetid and the market produce generally bug-infested, badly bruised, or spoiled. After two years and two children she developed a tapeworm. The creature lived and grew inside of her. The worm then segmented and each of those segments grew into separate beasts. Upon a belated examination, the Army Doctor told her that she would not be capable of living much longer. Her current condition would lead her to her doom. Millie’s husband received orders to return to the states with his family. Monty, once ashore in his home country, disappeared into the mad society of the 1920s without a trace or trail.
Monte slipped away and didn’t come home. Since Monte didn’t come home it wasn’t long before there was no money to pay for things–no rent, no food, no anything. The children were unhappy and blamed their mother as they were too young to realize their father was a scoundrel.
Millie had become depressed. Very much depressed. She made an attempt at suicide. She stuck her head in the oven, but it got too hot. The next day, Betsy, a friend, told her she should have blown out the pilot light. They laughed. Millie did admit that she knew better and that this was her cry for help. Her situation was becoming too much to bear.
Betsy also told Millie about a hot spring in the desert a few miles north of Little Lake. Certainly, if she were to go to this place, that the water may take care of her tapeworms somehow. Betsy’s husband, a German fellow that went by the name of Hans, was taking a sick friend there later in the week, and Millie would be welcome to catch a ride there with him. Betsy would take the two children to care for while she was away being treated. Millie agreed and began packing her bag.
Jake was a very sick man. The ravages of tertiary syphilis were maddening for him, and without treatment immediately Jake would die an excruciatingly painful death. Jack was far too young at age 32 (although he looked as if he were in his 50s) to pass on in this manner. His friend, Hans, was going to haul him up to Coso to see if there were a physical redemption awaiting him with the magical waters of the springs.
Jake had to be tied up to keep him still in the back of the truck as it bounced back and forth on the jagged roads through the Mojave past Red Rock, Robber’s Roost, and Freeman Junction. He would yell awhile and scream awhile and carry on in helpless defense.
Finally arriving in Coso, Millie went to check-in at the office and it was here that she met Mr. Olive. Mike Olive was a short man with dark, greasy hair, cut short as to easily be swept away from his thick glasses. He wore a white lab coat dirty with mud at the knees and the obligatory black bow tie. He was in his later 40s at least. His fingertips were clubbed from his chain-smoking, his nails dirty with mud from applying his prescribed treatments to the visitors at the resort. When Millie walked into the office he flipped his still smoking cigarette out the window and sat at his desk while she filled out the paperwork necessary for her stay. He tried looking down Millie’s blouse, but had no luck.
The first night was bad. The staff had placed Jake into a pit where the hot mud came up to his neck. His arms were still bound to his side so there was practically no chance of freeing himself up and running willy-nilly-crazy off into the desert ramparts. He would scream and scream and then scream louder and scream again and again. This went on all night. Jake’s amply audible suffering was inescapable.
During the daytime when everyone was busy Jake’s agony wasn’t so distracting. Everybody felt bad for the guy, for sure. It must hurt having your mind turn to mush, but folks had their own problems to deal with, like Millie with her tapeworms. Mr. Olive recommended drinking three tumblers of the spring water each day for 30 days. Since Jake was still screaming and hollering Mr. Olive added that Millie should go on walks to relieve stress–and that since there were coyotes out and about, and she was such a petite woman, that he would be pleased to accompany her as protection. She noticed he kept trying to look down her blouse. Mr. Olive was a bit shorter than her and ended up being repeatedly unsuccessful in his endeavor, Millie thought it was kind of cute. Her regimen would be this; one glass of water in the morning after breakfast, then a short walk with Mr. Olive, another glass of water at lunch and a longer afternoon walk with Mr. Olive, and after dinner Millie and Mr. Olive would sit on the porch and listen to Jake scream and scream and cry and holler in visceral torment.
Everyone there felt bad for Jake, but come on, this was going on and on and not helping Millie’s major depression at all. Millie had been keeping a diary and her entry for the fifth evening was;
“I toss and turn at night worrying about things. I hear Jake crying. I am not sleeping at all. My eyes feel like two piss holes in the snow.”
It was late in the evening on the sixth night–No one in the compound was sleeping. Millie wrote in her diary; “I wish Jake would shut up. I have been awake for most of the last 96 hours. I sort of wish Jake to die. If not soon, I may have to kill him.”
On the 7th day, Jake had actually quieted down a little. Everyone thought it was of dehydration, hoarseness, or maybe even he was just getting better. After midnight Jake became silent and all through out that part of the desert there was not a noise to be heard as if everyone and everything had fallen deeply asleep.
Mr. Olive and Millie took naps in their cabins instead of taking their walk. By nightfall, the crying had turned into moaning and groaning, and after awhile there were a couple of muffled fits. Millie wrote in her diary; “Finally!”
Everyone was in such a good mood and looked so well-rested and healthy and happy at breakfast. As Millie drank her glass of Coso water Mr. Olive approached with the largest smile on his face.
Millie asked, “what happened to Jake? Is he better?”
“Coyotes ate his head,” replied Mr. Olive.
Millie continued to drink the water as recommended. After several weeks she was cured of her tapeworm problem.
Mike Olive and Millie De Lapin fell in love and were married after a proper courtship. They moved to Riverside, California, where Millie planted citrus groves becoming a successful area farmer. Mike Olive became an intellectual free spirit and always kept trying to look down into Millie’s blouse and Millie always thought it was cute.
Monty bought a big flashy car, ran it into a pole, cracked his skull and got amnesia. He lived the rest of his life in a mental hospital receiving electro-shock treatments. He would often fall asleep and miss dinner. His children never visited him.
Until the early 19th century, water wells were still dug by hand. In 1808 in the United States, mechanical drilling was invented by the Ruffner Brothers. The Ruffner Brothers successfully first used mechanical drilling in Charleston, West Virginia to access water and salt at Great Buffalo Lick. This invention allowed many more wells to be drilled efficiently all over America.
By the 1820s and 1830s, auger boring machines came on the scene. These machines allowed wells to be drilled deeper and for the water to remain uncontaminated as it came up through pipes made of the first iteration of steel. By the early 20th-century rotary drilling technology became standard after the invention of the roller cone drill bit in 1908 by Howard Hughes Sr. Hughes invention is still used today for many types of drilling.
The 1940s brought the invention of portable drilling tools – until then they were all platform-based. And that brings us to the technology that is still in use today.