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Pulaski Waterworks

We continue the story of the history of the Town of Pulaski Waterworks.
Last week I mentioned several springs that provided water for the village of Martin’s Tank and early Pulaski City and Town.
For many years much of what is now southeast Pulaski was supplied with water that came down a deep hollow from its origin at a spring high up on the north side of Draper’s Mountain called Cool Spring. It emptied in a lake just west of the WPUV Radio Station lot, and flowed from there into Peak Creek.. Water from Cool Spring Hollow was used for almost a hundred years, before being condemned in about the 1970s by the State Health Department, because this department insisted that the water was no longer safe for household use.
Many citizens in the area were not willing to accept this decision, even though the Town took on the responsibility of laying new water lines to the area. They insisted that their parents and grandparents before them had thrived on the Cool Spring water (which incidentally they got free of charge), and that if it was good enough for several generations of ancestors, it was good enough for them. A walk up to the head of the hollow would have showed them that the water had to be contaminated, because in the final years, the rusty old worn out pipe through which it flowed leaked badly, and had rags tied around it to prevent all of the water from leaking out on the way down the mountain. Cool Spring Lake was a favorite fishing place for youngsters for many years. A bamboo pole, some string, hooks, sinkers, corks, and night crawlers were all that was needed for a memorable outing
The wells that were drilled in the Lowmoor Avenue lowgrounds furnished a large quantity of water, but pumping it up to the tank on Randolph Avenue was very expensive, as it had to be done by steam power generated by burning coal. I feel sure that the high cost of getting the water to the customers was a huge inducement to the private water company to arrange a quick sale of the system to the Town.
The Town didn’t bear the heavy expense of pumping the water from the wells for very long, because by the year 1900, typhoid fever was afflicting the population, resulting in several deaths. Tests of the wells soon proved them to be the apparent cause of the fever, and they were immediately condemned. Since water flowed from Oakwood Cemetery to the area of the wells, it was assumed that this caused the contamination of the wells, and the Town officials started on a new search for a water supply, which would prove to be a tough row to hoe.
It would be a sudden return to the use of spring water for the population that was going through a period of fast growth. Water problems mounted as the liquid became a precious commodity, as the search began.
I was amazed when I learned about the hardships encountered by citizens of the early town, as they learned to make do by digging cisterns and carrying water half way across town to provide it for their families.
Lloyd Mathews is a retired land surveyor and a historian who lives in Pulaski.

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Pulaski Waterworks

We continue the story of the history of the Town of Pulaski Waterworks.
Last week I mentioned several springs that provided water for the village of Martin’s Tank and early Pulaski City and Town.
For many years much of what is now southeast Pulaski was supplied with water that came down a deep hollow from its origin at a spring high up on the north side of Draper’s Mountain called Cool Spring. It emptied in a lake just west of the WPUV Radio Station lot, and flowed from there into Peak Creek.. Water from Cool Spring Hollow was used for almost a hundred years, before being condemned in about the 1970s by the State Health Department, because this department insisted that the water was no longer safe for household use.
Many citizens in the area were not willing to accept this decision, even though the Town took on the responsibility of laying new water lines to the area. They insisted that their parents and grandparents before them had thrived on the Cool Spring water (which incidentally they got free of charge), and that if it was good enough for several generations of ancestors, it was good enough for them. A walk up to the head of the hollow would have showed them that the water had to be contaminated, because in the final years, the rusty old worn out pipe through which it flowed leaked badly, and had rags tied around it to prevent all of the water from leaking out on the way down the mountain. Cool Spring Lake was a favorite fishing place for youngsters for many years. A bamboo pole, some string, hooks, sinkers, corks, and night crawlers were all that was needed for a memorable outing
The wells that were drilled in the Lowmoor Avenue lowgrounds furnished a large quantity of water, but pumping it up to the tank on Randolph Avenue was very expensive, as it had to be done by steam power generated by burning coal. I feel sure that the high cost of getting the water to the customers was a huge inducement to the private water company to arrange a quick sale of the system to the Town.
The Town didn’t bear the heavy expense of pumping the water from the wells for very long, because by the year 1900, typhoid fever was afflicting the population, resulting in several deaths. Tests of the wells soon proved them to be the apparent cause of the fever, and they were immediately condemned. Since water flowed from Oakwood Cemetery to the area of the wells, it was assumed that this caused the contamination of the wells, and the Town officials started on a new search for a water supply, which would prove to be a tough row to hoe.
It would be a sudden return to the use of spring water for the population that was going through a period of fast growth. Water problems mounted as the liquid became a precious commodity, as the search began.
I was amazed when I learned about the hardships encountered by citizens of the early town, as they learned to make do by digging cisterns and carrying water half way across town to provide it for their families.
Lloyd Mathews is a retired land surveyor and a historian who lives in Pulaski.

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