BY KAREN HANSEN
In light of the new 2,600-foot well that was recently dug here into the Jordan Aquifer, I decided to do research on the early Walnut water systems, started in 1880.
The Walnut water works, when completed, will be a thing which every citizen will feel proud of. The tank which holds the water, for the supply of the hydrants, will have a capacity of 56,750 gallons or thereabouts. The well from which the water will be drawn, will be fifty feet in depth, from which it will be forced into the tank by a wind mill. The tank will be elevated, upon suitable timbers and mason work, sixteen feet, which will give the water sufficient head to throw over any building in town, or about 60 feet at the foot of Central street, at its abutment upon Pearl.
The cost of the tank, lot, well, and wind-mill will be about $1,500; this amount will be paid out of the city treasury. A pipe must then be laid from the tank along Central street to Pearl. The pipe and hydrants will cost about $500; this amount must be raised by the individual owners of the property upon and contiguous to Central street. It is then proposed to ascertain the amount of water that can be spared from the tank, and allow each building along the street to use their portion of the surplus amount, which for the purposes of street sprinkling, alone, will be worth the price of their subscriptions. (The Walnut News, August 26, 1880)
O, yes Walnut has a system of waterworks, so called. It is not so much a system of water works as a systematic drain on the town treasury. It stands as a monument to misdirected intent and misplaced money. A tower, surmounted by a windmill, a leaky tank, a hole in the ground, some rusty iron pipe and two small cisterns constitute the entire plant. The total cost has been more than enough to put up a serviceable plant complete. The prevailing idea at all times has been to get something for nothing and get it together a little at a time. Every dollar put into the wreck for the past seven or eight years, and every dollar which will be put into it in the future will be worse than thrown away. It is thrown away because no good will ever result, and it is worse than that because the whole business will throw discredit and disrepute upon any move to put up a system that will amount to something. These remarks are suggested by the fact that the town council is having another well dug on the lots by the opera house. (The Walnut Bureau, January 27, 1893, p. 4)
THE WATERWORKS COMPLETE
On April 22, 1896 the contract to erect a system of waterworks was let by the town authorities to B. P. Eagan, of Nebraska City, at a price of $9350. The standpipe was afterwards let by Mr. Egan to the Geo. E. King Bridge Co., for $1675.
The work was commenced by Mr. Egan about the middle of May and all his part was completed about the first of July….
The system consists of pumping station with two 10 inch vertical engines and 40 horse power boiler.
There is 9756 feet of mains all within a complete circuit with the exception of about 1200 feet on north Central street, 25 hydrants and 16 gate boxes.
The standpipe is built of the best steel plate, 10 feet in diameter and 100 feet high and will hold in the neighborhood of 53,000 gallons…. (The Walnut Bureau, August 7, 1896, p. 5)