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How to Find Out If Land Has a Producing Well

Tracy Stefan

To find out if your land has a water, gas or oil well, you need to research all historical and current documentation on the area as well as performing a physical investigation of the actual property.

Locating a well

This research includes consulting a geophysicist to conduct non-invasive survey to detect water, gas, and oil wells below the earth's surface, and soliciting oral histories from long time residents who boader your land about local well development.

    Search well records
  1. Search the Public Land Survey System (PLSS) at the National Atlas of the United States online for a legal land description complete with all water, oil, and gas well records as designated within each state and county.

  2. Search well maps
  3. Search the United States Geological Survey (USGS) at for water, gas, and oil well maps on or near your land, listed by state and county.

  4. Search all physical records
  5. Search municipal and township offices and local libraries for documentation that may give further clues as to the location of producing wells such as: building permits, old land deeds, property surveys, land transfer documents, as well as both current and historical aerial photographs.

  6. Conduct a physical investigation
  7. Walk your entire property and investigate for likely places that a well may exist such as: residences, dwellings, barns, livestock feeding sites and fields with irrigation as well sites are likely to be located close to the area of intended use.

  8. Sketch all possible well sites
  9. Draw a sketch on a map of the property identifying all potential well sites which include: abandoned houses, windmill sites, outbuildings, pump houses, barns, old foundations, piles of wood or other debris, silos, feeding pens, watering troughs, .

  10. Check uncultivated areas
  11. Physically check all uncultivated areas such as grassy or treed areas near actively cropped areas as it may be an old water, gas, or oil well site.

  12. Look for debris from old wells
  13. Look for evidence and debris of an old well such as: old hand pumps; piles or rock and clay; steel casings, electrical switch boxes; pump motors; rings of concrete, bricks, or wood; buried piping as evidenced by pipes sticking up out of the ground; abnormal depressions in the ground; or aquatic vegetation.

  14. Get a geophyscial survey of land
  15. Consult a geophysicist to perform three non-invasive geophysical surveys; an electromagnetic survey, and a magnetic and ground penetrating radar survey, to locate oil and gas deposits beneath the earth's surface which indicate the presence of a oil or gas producing well, without having to excavate.

  16. Talk to your neighbors
  17. Talk to long time neighbors that border your land for oral histories of preexisting wells that may not be documented.

  18. Tip

    A lack of vegetation and/or tar like deposits may indicate an old oil or gas well as these wells can leak methane or salty, sulphurous water that kills plants.


    Be careful around old well sites as the material and debris may collapse.