The great desert of Sahara, the terror of travelers, is apparently destined, under modern science, to become inhabited in many parts, and to yield food, not only for ths traveler, but the dwellers in many pastural villages. The French have been experimenting in boring for water—artesian wells—in some of the oases, and their efforts have been crowned with success. The Moniteur Algerien gives an interesting account of the newly-bored wells in the province of Constantine. The first well was made in the oasis near Tamerna by a detachment of soldiers, operations having been commenced in May, 1856. In two months they reached a supply of water which boiled up and discharged 1,065 wine gallons per minute. The joy of tlie Arab natives was unbounded at the news, which spread with unexampled rapidity, and they came from a great distance to witness the miracle. The marabouts or priests held a solemn service, and gave it the name of " the well of peace." They thanked the soldiers in the presence of the people, gave them a banquet, and escorted them in procession to the frontier of the oasis. In another oasis—that of Sidi-Nached— which had been completely ruined by a drought, a well was also bored; and when the soldiers announced the rising of the waters, the natives rushed to it in crowds, plunged into the stream, and mothers bathed their children in it, to obtain a blessing. It has been called " the well of gratitude," and delivers about 1,142 gallons per minute. In another oasis a well has also been bored, which delivers 176 gallons per minute; and here some of the tribes commenced at once to plant date-palm trees, and give up their former nomadic life. In all likelihood these artesian wells will work a social revolution in the manners of the roving children of the desert. Instead of wandering from place to place— oasis to oasis—in search of pasture for their flocks and herds, as their ancestors before them had done for centuries, they will cluster round these fertilizing springs in well-'built cots, and exchange the hunter's spear for the plow of the farmer, and thus take steps towards civilization.
This article was originally published with the title "Artesian Wells in the Desert" in Scientific American 13, 24, 189 (February 1858)