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Monday, October 20, 2014

1921 :: Collapse of Water Works Standpipe

The Rockdale water works standpipe collapsed under pressure of a full head of water about 9:00 o'clock Tuesday night. The standpipe was 110 feet high, and consisted of 22 sections of 5 feet each. The break occurred on the 9th section, and the thirteen top sections fell with a crash that was heard all over town. 

In falling the tower pointed north and partially wrecked the W.E. Gaither warehouse, formerly occupied by the old Rockdale Commission Company. While the tower proper did not reach the warehouse the volume of water carried by the falling portion dealt the building a blow that wrecked the rear portion and scattered its contents promiscuously. Mr. Gaither's damage amounts to several hundred dollars to building and contents.

Some damage also resulted to the old City Cemetery, a number of monuments and gravestones being displaced and broken, shrubbery uprooted, etc.

In falling the connection water main was broken, thus draining the section of the standpipe left standing, and causing a shortage of water over the city which was not relieved until nearly noon next day.

The loss to the city is really not very great, as the standpipe was known to be almost worthless and its collapse was not unexpected. It was erected in 1890, and was therefore 31 years old and had served its allotted time and many years over. The city council only recently authorized the purchase of a new water tower to take its place, and Mayor Meyer has since been busy getting bids and prices on same, and was about ready to place the order when the collapse occurred. The order was placed Wednesday morning by wire.

Until the new tower can be erected the waterworks will be conducted by direct pump pressure from the plant into the mains. The nine sections of the old standpipe still standing will be kept full and ready for emergency use in case of fire.

Mayor Meyer asks The Reporter to state that no time will be lost in replacing this tower, and that under the system of direct pumping there will be an abundance of water in the mains at all times for all purposes.

The new water tower will cost $10,000, and will be paid for out of the water works plant fund accumulated from the earnings of the water works plant. This fund on October 1st contained $8,454, almost enough to pay for the new water tower.

In this connection the citizens should not confuse the water works plant fund with the water works bond fund. The bond fund is the sinking fund provided for the retirement of the water works bonds and is accumulated from the tax payments. This bond fund now consists of $654 cash in bank and the ownership of $7000 worth of other city bonds, bought as an investment for the water works sinking fund, and drawing interest therefore.

No city bonds of any kind have been bought with the water works, plant fund, which, as above stated, is an accumulation of profits from the operation of the water plant. These profits amount of approximately $300 per month, in addition to which the town receives free water for schools, drinking fountain, street sprinkling and fire protection -- a service which formerly cost the city $100 per month. Cameron Herald, October 20, 1921

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