Carol and Jim Kuebelbeck
28391 Kelp Road
St. Joseph, Minnesota 56374
Growing up on a Minnesota dairy farm in the 1940s and '50s, Jim Kuebelbeck often heard tales of "water witchers" who were mysteriously able to detect underground water while standing above ground. One day, a well-known local water dowser—a Catholic priest—heard that Jim's father was about to dig a new well for the cattle and stopped by the farm to offer his help. The skeptical boy watched as Father Elmer pulled out a Y-shaped willow branch and walked around the property, the end of the branch pulled to the ground in a certain area like a magnet. The priest finally announced that the well should be dug in that spot. Jim's father, a practical German farmer and just as much of a skeptic, challenged the priest to say how far down the water was located. Twenty-three feet, Father Elmer responded. Meanwhile, the young Jim wandered off with a tree branch of his own to test the absurdity of what he'd just seen. He was shocked when the branch seemed to twist in his hands, and even more shocked when Father Elmer walked over to him and said, "My boy, you can do this, too." After a few days of shoveling, water was found—at 23 feet.
Jim set this experience aside for years as he graduated from St. John's Preparatory School, served in the U.S. Navy as an aviation electronics technician aboard the aircraft carrier the USS Valley Forge, and eventually took over the family's milk delivery business in St. Joseph, Minn., which he and his wife, Carol, ran for 45 years. Together they raised six daughters. He began exploring dowsing again in the 1970s, practicing on his own until his mother insisted that he help a relative who had drilled 420 feet into bone-dry granite. Jim was initially reluctant, knowing that many people are able to get some kind of reaction from a dowsing rod and, in their eagerness to demonstrate their newly discovered ability, inexperienced dowsers are likely not only to be wrong but to once again discredit the practice in the eyes of the general public. (A dowsing instrument—whether a tree branch or made of plastic, which Jim now uses—is simply an amplification of what the human body is sensing, and it takes time and practice to interpret those senses correctly.) But he agreed to attempt to locate water for this family—and succeeded, locating a site that yielded an abundant 50 gallons per minute at a depth of 42 feet, just feet away from the previously drilled dry hole.
Today, Jim has located more than 4,000 wells, working with professional well drillers, land developers, realtors, home builders, contractors, farmers, and others in both the private and public sector.
"The best part of our work is the satisfaction we receive when we are able to help people in need," Jim says. He adds that it's especially satisfying to find good water supplies near previously drilled unsuccessful wells, although it's daunting to recommend where people should spend more money when they've already wasted money on dry holes: "Carol often says I lose more sleep at night than the landowners do when I select a new drilling site on property where only dry holes have been drilled previously."
He and his wife work as a team, traveling to sites throughout Minnesota and the Midwest, primarily in Central Minnesota where underground granite formations make finding water supplies difficult.
"Our primary objective is to prevent the drilling of dry holes or encountering inadequate groundwater supplies," Jim says. "Because we have been consistently successful in doing so, we now work with a growing number of water well drillers throughout the Midwest. We now have an excellent working relationship with well drillers throughout the region, and we enjoy the satisfaction of working with them because our objectives are the same. We never push our dowsing services onto anyone, and we never interfere in any way on any drilling site." He also does not give depth estimates to clients or make any predictions about probable well yields. "If asked, we simply tell the landowners to trust the well drillers to do whatever he (or she) has to do to make the best possible well."
Among the successful wells Jim has located is an ample water supply for the Crazy Horse National Monument in South Dakota. Grateful leaders of the mountain-sculpting project called the well a "gusher."
Says Jim, "It has been (and still is) an interesting journey for us, and we get to meet some of the greatest people in the world as well!"