ST. LOUIS ( -- Construction crews are working to fill in a 15-foot hole that was discovered underneath a home in Dogtown near Manchester. The hole is an old cistern believed to date back to the late 1880s. 

Cisterns have been around for centuries. They collect rain water, which is then used for drinking, bathing, washing clothes, and even flushing the toilet. 

"We didn’t really expect this to happen," said Rick Schaper, who hired Hibbs Homes to build his family a new home on the property. 

Schaper said the home that once sat on the property could not be saved. 

Danni Eichenhorst with Hibbs Homes said crews also discovered an old mine shaft near the cistern. She said finding both on the same property is very rare. 

“A lot of the mines in this area are not documented very well and sometimes when you excavate a project here you’re likely to run into something," said Eichenhorst. “Anytime we build in the historic St. Louis area we’re likely to run into a couple of issues.”

Schaper said he was more blown away by what was found inside the cistern. He discovered several bottles likely from the turn of the century. 

"A lot of them are apothecary bottles, medicine bottles,” said Schaper. “For these to survive being thrown down in a cistern years ago and then dug up by excavator you know that they were made a long time ago.”

Cisterns are more common than you might think. Two weeks ago, the Campbell House Museum downtown on Locust Street discovered two large cisterns while in the process of building a new education space and gift shop.

Missouri law requires homeowners to fill any cistern or well that is no longer in use. 

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