Bored elm pipes from the Abbey Mills Pumping Station, England. The use of bored elm pipes underground with quills of lead running off into the houses of the well-to-do seems to have begun in London as early as the 13th century.
All the old London water companies that appeared between the 16th and 18th century used bored elm pipes for distributing water.
– Text from information display at the pumping station (see photo).
Source: Roger C. Cracknell, Bibby Transmissions, UK; with permission from Matthew Wood, Wastewater Archivist, Thames Water, Reading, Berkshire.
Bored hemlock (wood log) water pipe, laid about 1754. Early wood log pipe was used often for either water or sewage conveyance.
Source: “Discussion” by Harry G. Payrow, “Historic Review of the Development of Sanitary Engineering in the United States During the Past One Hundred and Fifty Years: A Symposium,” Transactions of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Volume 92 (1928), p. 1287. Used with permission of ASCE and EWRI.
Hollowed wood log pipes in the Museum of Edinburgh, Scotland. Hollowed-out tree trunks were the earliest sewer disposal method used in the city, according to the Museum. Date unknown.
Source: Frans Lamers, Costa Rica.
A hollowed-out wood water supply pipe around 500 years old put in by monks, Bristol, England.
Bristol started sewer construction around 1854, although a famous slave trader, Goldney, was one of the first to lay a sewer at Randall Road in Bristol, probably around 1780.
The Bristol City Council put in all Bristol sewers prior to the formation of Wessex Water, and was also the inventor of the energy dissipation vortex and the concept of dynamic separation in the early 1950’s. The concept was adopted by new York and Chicago in the early 60’s.
Source: Julian Britton, Senior Engineer, Wessex Water, Kingston Seymour Village, North Somerset, England.
Source: Courtesy of Dick Riegler, Philadelphia Suburban Water Company.
When the fire was out, the hole in the pipe would be sealed by driving a wood (oftentimes redwood) plug — similar to those shown here — into it. The plug’s location was often noted and marked before the pipe was covered over, so the plug could possibly be used as a source the next time — instead of creating a new hole in the wood pipe. This procedure is the basis of the term fire plug, a name which is often still applied to modern day fire hydrants.
Source: Cast Iron Pipe, Standard Specifications Dimensions and Weights (Burlington, New Jersey: United States Cast Iron Pipe & Foundry Co.,1914).
A section of wood water main that the Lansing Board of Water and Light excavated in downtown Lansing, Michigan, circa 2000. It may have been installed to serve the Capitol Building around 1879.
The wood pipe in these four photos appears to be the machined type that came along after the Civil War when the machinery was available to take a log and machine the outside, and then machine auger out the interior flow-carrying area.
Wyckoff Pipe, manufactured by the Michigan Pipe Co. of Bay City, MI, made their wood pipe in a way that looked similar to these photos (starting in the 1880’s), but they used strapping and a separate machined wood spline to in effect create the bell and spigot joint for their wood pipe. In these photos, it appears the spigot protrusion is integral to the barrel, not a separate spline (to form the spigot).
Source: Mark Witalec, surveyor for the Lansing Board of Water and Light, and Timothy S. Hogg, Engineering Technician / GIS, Delta Charter Township, Lansing, MI.
Wood log pipes in Holly, Michigan.
Located in the far northwestern hills of Michigan’s Oakland County, Holly is a vibrant community with a rich cultural heritage rooted in commerce and transportation. In 1864, Holly became the first Michigan community with a railroad junction, called the Holly and Flint line. The Holly, Wayne and Monroe Railroad was introduced in 1870 and later consolidated with the Holly and Flint line to become the Flint and Pere Marquette. The railroad brought new growth to the village, and Holly quickly developed into more than just a whistle stop. By the 20th century, homes, schools, churches and businesses took root and provided the very foundation for a community that still thrives today.
The summer of 2007 marked the beginning of an $800,000 streetscape project, designed to freshen up downtown Holly while at the same time, maintaining the quaint Midwestern village style for which Holly is best known. Construction crews unearthed some of Holly’s earliest infrastructural artifacts including this thimble that was used to join two Wyckoff wooden pipe segments. It is believed the village purchased the wooden water pipe system from Bay City Pipes out of Bay City, Michigan sometime in the late 1800s.
Source: Donated in conjunction with Tri County Times, Fenton, Michigan, on behalf of the Village of Holly by Village Manager, Aaron Oppenheimer, and Director of the Department of Public Works, Marv Swanson.
Source: “Wooden Water Pipe,” The Manufacturer and Builder , Volume 18, Issue 1 (Jan. 1886), p. 4. Courtesy of The Making of America Digital Collection, Cornell University Library.
Source: Courtesy of George McDonald, P.E., R. S. Engineering, Tucson, Arizona (previously with the firm of Rust Environment and Infrastructure).
Source: “Sewer Outlets at Niagara Falls, Ont.,” Engineering News and American Railway Journal , Volume XXXVII, No. 19 (13 May 1897), p. 300.
Drawings for wood pipe projects in the Philadelphia area from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. The first drawing (Wooden Sewer in Race St.) also has a detail on it for a manhole rim and casting to fit the O.D. of the involved wood stave pipe — an interesting detail.
From top to bottom: Wood sewer in Race Street, standard design 3×3, wood sewer (unidentified location), wooden box in George’s Run, wooden box in Vienna Street, wood sewer in Chestnut.
Source: Robert Serpente.
Wood stave pipe that has been in service for a long time (and, is still in service) as a storm water culvert pipe within Mount Rainier National Park near Paradise, Washington. Photo date October 2010.
Source: Gaylord D. Mattes, Puyallup, Washington.
Source: Frederick E. Turneaure, Editor-in-Chief, Cyclopedia of Civil Engineering, Vol. VIII: Hydraulics, Water Power, Waterways, Index (Chicago: American School of Correspondence, 1908), p. 251
Redwood stave pipe (52-inch) crossing Warmsprings Canyon, near Redlands, California. Circa 1908.
Source: Frederick E. Turneaure, Editor-in-Chief, Cyclopedia of Civil Engineering, Vol. VIII: Hydraulics, Water Power, Waterways, Index (Chicago: American School of Correspondence, 1908), p. 253.
Source: Utah State Historical Society, Photo no. C-601 #1651. Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society, all rights reserved.
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