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Postscript to Water, water where art thou?

November 4, 2013
By Ellayne Conyers , Marshall Independent

I received the following information from Jeff Larson, water superintendent at Marshall Municipal Utilities. It portrays quite an interesting view of the water situation in Marshall's early history. From the Jan. 27, 1889, issue of the Engineering News we read:

"The water supply of the town of Marshall Minn., is obtained from artesian wells, and has been pumped to a tank of 60,000 gallons capacity mounted on a steel framed tower 85 ft. high. Deck being complete, shown in a photograph sent us by the U.S. Engine & Pump Co., of Batavia, Ill. According to information received from Mr. H.P. Fulton, architect and builder, of Marshall, the tower was of the four-post type; build by the Carnegie Steel Co., of Pittsburg, according to a general design shown in the company's book. It was erected by Mr. C. T. Sykes, of St. Paul, Minn. The posts were of two sets of girders or horizontal members, dividing the 85-ft. tower into three panels, with diagonal bracing of rods 1-in., 7/8-in square, respectively, set up by turnbuckles in the middle. The tank has always leaked, especially during high winds, and the backs of the rivets in the loops were worn by the friction due to vibration. The direct cause of the accident is attributed to the freezing of the of the leaking water upon the tower.

According to a story that went along with the information about this collapse of the first water tower, in 1915, "The collapse washed Dr. and Mrs. Eastman, who lived next door, out of their beds."

At the time of the accident, Mr. Fulton thinks that the tower was not strong enough, and that the constant vibration had worn off some of the rivets or bolts. The steel frame which supported the tank was found upside down in the center of the place where the tower had stood."

The tower stood on the present site of the Marshall Municipal Utilities, which is the site the utility was started in 1894. Another tower was erected in 1915 on the site and taken down about 10 years ago.

In 1916 the Engineering News reported that one of Marshall's original wells A." A fitting must have failed and the water blew out the wall and roof of the well house. The original wells were flowing artesian and relied on pressure from the aquifer so the water didn't need to be pumped." People who have seen the photo of the water gushing out of the well have asked why the pump wasn't turned off.

 
 

 

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