1924: Gallatin’s New Water Tower

In 1924, Gallatin’s water tower was badly in need of repair. A special city council meeting was called to consider the needed repairs. An examiner, Mr. Gill, who’d previously inspected the tower, was present to report on its condition. The report called for a new bottom and the replacement of the two top rings of the plate. He gave a $700 bid for the project.

In 1924, Gallatin’s water tower was badly in need of repair. A special city council meeting was called to consider the needed repairs. An examiner, Mr. Gill, who’d previously inspected the tower, was present to report on its condition. The report called for a new bottom and the replacement of the two top rings of the plate. He gave a $700 bid for the project.

The insurance factor was also another concern. Gallatin was a fourth class town, but unless certain specifications were met on the water tower, the town would drop to a fifth class town which would increase the fire insurance rates.

In order to meet the necessary requirements, the city had to install a water tower which could furnish a steady stream of water for five hours at a pressure of 60 pounds without any pumping being done. A few additions to the mains were also needed as well as an extra thousand feet of fire hose and new connections on the fire plugs.

An approved water tower needed to have a 75,000 gallon tank set on top of a 135-foot structure just south of the business square. When completed, the new water tower would hold enough water and provide 60 pounds of pressure which would make it possible to furnish a high pressure stream of water on a fire for five hours. In comparison, the old water tower only held 40,000 gallons of water, was only 110 feet high, and only gave a gravity pressure of 30 pounds.

Two weeks later many citizens were both upset and worried as they thought the insurance rates were going to take an immediate increase. Mr. Gill returned and assured them it wasn’t the case. He said the present water tower, the mains, and the fire fighting equipment were sufficient unless there was a large fire which was very unlikely. He also said the water tower should be built on a steel structure and have a 75,000 gallon capacity. He approved the fire truck, but urged that the fire hose and fire hydrant couplings be standardized and the fire plugs painted an orange yellow so they could be seen better at night and on dark and snowy days.

Stating it was a “have to” case, the following week the city called for an election to vote $10,000 bonds for a new 75,000 gallon water tower. Changes had been made to plans submitted a month earlier and now two $10,000 bonds were on the ballot including the former bonds for the tower and the latter bonds to extend the trunk line sewers. The old tower could continue to be used until the new structure was completed which would take about 30 days. An election date was set for mid-June.

Upon voter approval, the Pittsburg-Des Moines Steel Company was awarded the contract for constructing the water tower for $7,450. In addition, the company would receive $200 for removing the steel from the old tower.

By late December 1924, the water tower was working fine, but the people still had a water shortage. The two pumps that had been used to pump the water from the reservoir weren’t powerful enough to pump the new water tower full of water since it was higher and more pressure was needed.

A new pump was purchased for $1,800 and once it was installed it’d put the city in first class condition. The people wouldn’t know they were working on the tower because the water wouldn’t have to be shut off unless it was at night when they were trying to fill the tank.

The water tower was filled in March 1925 by the employees of the light and water departments working in shifts to see that the pumps were kept running. The findings were that the pumps were good enough to supply the city with an abundance of water. As a result, the order for the new pump was cancelled which saved the city the expense of buying a new one.

However, building a new water tower didn’t solve the water problem. By 1926, the water supply continued to be short. Many were still concerned that if a fire should occur, there wouldn’t be a sufficient water source to extinguish it.

After much consideration it was decided to look into the matter of digging a new well. The city contacted George Austin of Kansas City who had a good reputation for his work. A contract was soon issued and work would start immediately.

After studying the situation, it was decided the best place to dig a new well was just north of the present well which was 27 feet deep. Judging from the present well, a new well would furnish enough water for all purposes and Gallatin would have one of the best water systems in this part of the state. The driller would use a 46 inch telescope casing going down between 50 and 60 feet or until they hit solid rock. When completed, the bottom of the casing would be 18 inches. It would have a concrete curb which would be above the high water mark and also have a concrete screen and a gravel filter.

The contract price was $45 per foot. The city was to pay $900 when the well was completed and make payments of $100 per month in deferred payments with 6% interest.

The well was completed in September 1927. From all appearances, the well would be a good one as the city superintendent had the pump operating for eight hours which filled the 75,000 gallon tank. At that rate, the water was being used at the rate of 150 gallons per minute. There was some concern as to the new well draining the old well, but from all appearances there wasn’t any need to worry as the water level of the new well was only lowered 26 inches in that length of time. As the well was used, it was believed the water flow would increase and the city would have an abundance of water. It would also save the city money as it wouldn’t require a man at the power house at night as plenty of water could be pumped during the day.

At a city council meeting in October 1927, Mr. Austin presented the city with a bill for $2,670. After reading the contract, the city council and the city attorney decided the amount was incorrect as to the amount of footage that was dug. A compromise was made and the city only paid $2,112.

The cost of the well was to be paid out of the proceeds of the light and water fund. There wasn’t to be any increase in city taxes.