The Mysterious Garden Hose Enigma

George Di Peso was never able to pull his garden hose back out of the ground.

His garden hose had burrowed itself into the ground—to a depth of twenty feet.  No amount of tugging, twisting, or turning could get it out.

In 1955, a strange phenomenon happened in more than one spot in the USA.  It is so odd that I never would have believed it, if I hadn’t seen a scan of the newspaper article and headline from Downy, California—complete with pictures.  If you root around, you can find more than one newspaper clipping on these odd events.

The first incident was reported in California, as mentioned, and then there were similar incidents in Minnesota, Michigan, New York, Florida, Kansas, and across the border in Ontario.  It is interesting that all of these places are different in topography and terrain.

In 1955—a wonderful year by the way—I was entering the first grade.  I don’t remember these strange events.  I don’t remember older friends reporting reading about them in Our Weekly Reader, either, or our parents talking about it.  It is something a person like me would remember.  More importantly, it is something my friends and I would try to make happen ourselves if we knew about it.

The man in California who suffered the first event was a truck driver named Mr. George Di Peso.  When he returned home, he was astonished to see that his garden hose had burrowed itself into the ground—to a depth of twenty feet.  No amount of tugging, twisting, or turning could get it out.

His young daughter, age 12, was quizzed about it.  She had been given the chore of watering the ivy by her mother.  She explained that she had stuck the hose in the ground to make her job easier, she thought.  When the water was running good, it started making its way downward into the earth, on its own, at a pace of two inches per hour.

When Mr. Di Peso tried to deal with the stubborn water hose, he got more and more frustrated.  He was stressed out by all of the unwanted publicity—after the word got out.

After the California incident, similar incidents happened in Minnesota and Michigan, but they escaped much national publicity.   Then, an incident in Rochester, New York, made headlines again.  Richard Reddens and his family watched slack-jawed as their own garden hose inched its way into the ground for fifteen feet.

 Geologists appeared on the scene (sort of like Men In Black?) and they explained that a powerful vacuum was being created.  Any sand granules in the soil acted as tiny ball-bearings, aiding the process.  Other scientists chimed in that it was a classic example of a back-siphon. 

Meanwhile, back in California, Mr. Di Peso was photographed cutting off the garden hose at ground level and burying the end.  There were constant traffic jams in front of his house.  His life had become a mess and he was going to put a stop to it.

Vacuum?  Tiny ball bearings?  Back-siphon?  Rubber hoses descending into the earth on their own?  Similar incidents happened that gardening season in Florida, Kansas, Ontario, and places we probably don’t know about.  It came, it went—the big garden hose enigma.  It is still a mystery.

There is a possible reason these events are no longer reported.  After 1980, most water systems were required to have backflow valves in them.  This either corrected the problem or is merely one of those strange coincidences we who follow unexplained mysteries are forced to deal with.

Sara Marie Hogg is the author of the award-winning It Rises from the Pee Dee. Please click HERE to find the novel on Amazon.



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