Most of the first homesteaders dug their own wells by hand, and if they were lucky they reached potable water within 50 feet. Others had to go deeper—90 feet or more. It was grueling and dangerous work. A man would be lowered into the hole with pick and shovel, load a bucket with dirt and rock, and his wife and kids would haul the bucket up, dump it, and lower it for more. More than one homesteader died from cave-ins or deadly fumes.