On this World Water Day, the reality of water scarcity is starker than ever before. With the situation in Cape Town, South Africa, bringing...
The pipes were likely to be installed around 1812
This past May while replacing a water line, construction workers in Philadelphia discovered 200-year-old water main made of wood. The Philadelphia Water Department was able to identify the relic of Philadelphia’s 19th-century infrastructure after workers initially thought the item to be a buried tree trunk.
Upon further analysis, officials believe the water mains were originally installed around 1812 which was based off a November 5, 1812, report from Philadelphia’s Water Committee, which mentioned laying water pipes in the subject area around that time.
The wooden mains were a part of the city’s water collection and distribution system since they were first implemented in 1800. Two steam-powered pumping stations were involved, with one pumping water from the Schuylkill River while the other pumped water to a building fitted with a wooden reservoir that provided water to the city’s distribution system via gravity.
The wooden mains utilized by the city were relatively short-lived, however, as the city stopped installing wooden water mains in 1832. The city switched predominantly to cast-iron water main installation by 1819.