This record traces the history of the St. Louis Water Works from its beginning up to 1968. It emphasizes the lives and identities of the men who designed, operated and managed the plants, rather than the material aspects of construction, pumps and pipes. Each new generation either forgets or dismisses the contributions made by the preceding generations in almost any field that you can name. Only the giants stand out, and sometimes even they are forgotten.
When an enterprise has a history of 139 years, it is not surprising that some of the most able and respected men who planned these works and operated them in behalf of the public, are remembered imperfectly, if at all.
It is the purpose of this history to breathe life into their image and to record their accomplishments.
--W. B. S.
From the time of its founding in 1764 until 1831, St. Louis depended upon springs and cisterns for its water supply. There is also conjecture that river water, dispensed by water haulers, was also used to supplement shortages during dry periods.
As the population of St. Louis approached 6,000 people by 1830, the necessity for a dependable water supply was imperative.
In 1829 the City entered into a contract with John G. Wilson and Abram Fox to "Build and conduct water works supplying clarified water." What the standards for "clarified water" were are unknown at this late date.Other conditions of the contract were:
The City further conceded a bonus of $3,000 cash on the completion of the works. The location of the river intake was at the foot of Smith Street, which was located roughly where the Ashley St. generating station of Union Electric now stands.
General Ashley, who organized and headed the Rocky Mountain Fur Company must have had a hand in drawing up the contract, because in addition to the clause in his behalf for free water for his fountain, he sold the City a lot of ground 170 x 160 feet located on the "little mound" at the corner of Ashley & Collins Streets for a reservoir site. The water was to be distributed in cast iron pipes buried not less that 3-1/2 feet underground.
Little progress was made under the contract, because the contractors were forced by lack of capital to suspend work, and despite the fact that the Mayor, Daniel P. Page, gave his private note to secure payment for the water pipe, the City entered into a new contract with Mr. Fox, Mr. Wilson having previously sold his interest to Fox.
In the new contract, Fox was released from all the conditions of the first contract, except the fountain of General Ashley, who probably had a hand in drafting it also.
The City borrowed $25,000 in 1831 in order to proceed with the work. In 1835 the City had more equity in the project than Fox, who sold his interest to the City for $18,000. The City then became sole owner of the water works, and entered into the trials and tribulations of public service.
The history of any enterprise, public or private, political or economic, is the history of men. In waterworks, it is the zeal and foresight of the many devoted public servants whose names are forgotten by all but a few, who have assembled and recorded the technique of water supply, without which no modern plant could function. The St. Louis Water Works has been extremely fortunate in its 133 years of municipal ownership, to have been served by so many able men. The names of some of these men and their contributions will appear throughout this short history.
During the years from 1835 to the close of the Civil War, the system operated one jump ahead of water famine. This was partly due to insufficient financing and planning for future development and partly due to the silting of the reservoirs and the high head losses of small pipe in the distribution system.
Water was pumped directly into the storage reservoirs without pre-settling. Various schemes to make the reservoirs easier to clean ended, for the most part, in failure. There is an instance where a new reservoir was built on top of an existing reservoir in order to increase the available head. After a few years, the lower reservoir was abandoned and the upper one used until 1852, when another new one was placed in service.
In 1846 the Superintendent of the Waterworks, probably discouraged by the difficulty of maintaining an adequate reserve in the reservoirs, suggested that the supply of water for the City be drawn from the Meramec River. The discussion on this question continued until 1854, when the then Superintendent reported against the scheme.
Still the average citizen was apparently satisfied with the water when he could get it. An account of how St. Louisans felt in 1858 about their water supply is graphically described by Taylor and Crooks in "A Sketch Book of St. Louis" in which they say: "St. Louis is supplied with water from the Mississippi River. A steam engine of considerable power draws it from the river and forces it to the reservoir. The water is taken out in the upper part of the City, above the entrance of any sewers, at a place where the river is deepest and the current is swiftest, and therefore the water taken out is the purest that can be obtained."
"The Missouri river imparts its peculiar muddy cast to the Mississippi at and below their junction, and although the appearance of the water is not clear, and to a stranger is rather disagreeable, yet it is nevertheless about the best river water in the world. It is said to keep longer, and to be sweeter on a sea voyage than the water of perhaps any other stream; indeed it may almost be said never to spoil."
"The appearance of the water when first taken from the river, or when the supply from the reservoir has not had time to settle, is rather muddy and thick, from a great mixture of light sandy particles, and strangers generally dislike it; but it soon settles on becoming stationary, and then is very palatable, and persons soon become fond of it--preferring it to any other water."
"It does not, however, agree with all who use it; until they become habituated. Some of those, especially Europeans, who after a long confinement on shipboard, and scant supply of water, find themselves in the midst of such a river, with power to drink just as much as they please, are apt to be rather seriously affected by its use."
"But soon these difficulties are overcome; the system becomes habituated to its use, the muddy appearance is rapidly forgotten, and the sweet, pleasant taste renders almost any well or spring water insipid in the comparison, and we long for the supply furnished by the 'Father of Waters'! Even the stranger loves its use; how much more, then, those who for years have used no other! Supplied from such a source, there can be no apprehension of failure, although it is not to be disguised that people are often put on SHORT ALLOWANCE."
We wonder why the Chamber of Commerce of that day did not delete the last sentence from this glowing recital!
From the start of operations of the waterworks in 1831 until the early 1860's, St. Louis had built 3 reservoirs at various locations and made numerous changes in piping and pumping equipment, none of which improved reliability of the supply. It became obvious to the citizens that an entirely new engineering approach would be necessary to insure a plentiful supply of water.
By 1860 the population of the City stood at 160,773. The idea for a new water works dates from 1863, when the legislature of the State passed an act entitled "An Act to enable the City of St. Louis to extend the Water Works thereof and for other purposes". This Act authorized the City to build facilities to take water from any point on the Mississippi and conduct it to the City. It also created a Board of Water Commissioners to be elected by the Common Council of the City, to carry out the purposes of the Act. It further provided for the issuance of bonds limited to the amount of $3,000,000 to pay for the construction.
In conformity with the Act, the City Council passed an ordinance for regulating the Board of Water Commissioners, but none was appointed. Because of this lapse of responsibility, the legislature in 1865 amended the Act of 1863, by placing the appointment of the Board in the hands of the Governor, which he promptly did.
This Board organized in March of 1865 and on March 27 appointed James P. Kirkwood as Chief Engineer. In May 1865 the Board directed Mr. Kirkwood to proceed with the surveys and plans for a system of water works. The plan was submitted in August of 1865 and forwarded to the City Council for action.
This scheme contemplated the location of the Low Service pumps at the Chain of Rocks; the works to consist of a pumping station, settling basins, and filter beds. The filtered water to be conducted by gravity in a conduit to Baden, where a High service station was to pump it to a reservoir at Rinkels with a high water line of 204 feet above datum and also to an auxiliary reservoir on Compton Hill to furnish water to the southern part of the City. The whole plant was to be designed for 40 mgd.
This plan was rejected by the Council in May of 1866, which recommended that the filter beds be discarded and the plant located at Bissells Point.
During the consideration of this report by the Council, Mr. Kirkwood was sent to Europe to examine and report on the methods there in use for filtering water.
In 1866 the first Board resigned and the second Board directed Mr. Kirkwood to prepare a design according to the following resolution:
That the Engineer be directed to prepare a general plan founded on the following basis, to wit:
That the water be taken from the Mississippi in the neighborhood of Bissells Point.
That settling basins be established there without the accompaniment of filtering works.
That the storage reservoir be constructed on the City Commons (this was Compton Hill).
The plan submitted by Mr. Kirkwood was substantially that called for in the resolution, and was the one by which the Bissells Point Water Works was eventually built.
The City of St. Louis was extremely fortunate at this juncture of its history to have in its employ such a capable engineer as James P. Kirkwood. He arrived in St. Louis in April 1850 as Chief Engineer for the newly organized Pacific Railroad, and was in charge of the construction of the first section of that road which was built to Pacific, Missouri. The town of Kirkwood is named in his honor.
Before his arrival in St. Louis, he was engineer for the New York and Erie Railroad and had already achieved eminence for completing the STARRUCA VIADUCT at Lanesboro, Pennsylvania. This was the most expensive railroad structure of its day, built of masonry 100 feet high with arches of 50 feet. span and a total length of 900 feet.
James Pugh Kirkwood was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1807. He attended schools in Scotland and Holland, worked in his father's store and was apprenticed in 1821 at the age of 14, to a local firm of land surveyors and served on some smaller railroads in New England and Long Island. Later he was appointed Resident for the Western Railway of Massachusetts. In 1848 he was asked to direct the construction of the Starruca Viaduct for the Erie Railroad.
The problem of clarifying the turbid waters of the Mississippi was a formidable one for the state of the art of that day. This is the reason Kirkwood favored slow sand filtration which was being practiced in Europe. He said of the turbid western water that the sediment "though trifling in weight, renders the water very objectionable in appearance, very objectionable in its application to any of the Arts or manufacturers, and no acquisition certainly as regards health or cleanliness." He admits, however, that "Custom, as on the Western rivers, may reconcile persons to its presence".
This reminds one of the story attributed to Mark Twain who said it was easy to recognize a stranger in the St. Louis area, by offering him a glass of water. The stranger waits for the mud to settle, while the native stirs it up and drinks it immediately to secure to full power of its life giving properties.
In his 1866 report, Mr. Kirkwood sums up his opinions about slow sand filtration as an answer to St. Louis needs as he explains, "wherever the attempt has been made to use filter beds without the preliminary subsidence in a settling basin to remove the heavier sediment, the attempt has either failed or been but partly successful." He advised four settling basins. He seems to have been the first to suggest the "fill and draw" method of settling afterwards practiced at Bissells Point for settling turbid water. He then discusses rates of filtration advising the correct spacing and construction of the underdrain system, when the filters were to be cleaned and how the accumulation of mud in the sand bed would affect the rate. "So far as I can judge," he remarks, "these rates should not exceed 8.8 inches per hour when the water is clean, nor get below 3.2 inches when it is obstructed by the deposit." In designing a bed he states, "I assume half a cubic foot of water per square foot of sand floor as a fair exponent of the best English practice, and at a rate which with the usual attention will be certain to insure satisfactory results."
For St. Louis, he recommends 6 to 8 filters of 260 by 150 feet as "convenient dimensions." The depth was to be 5-1/2 to 6 feet and composed of 2 feet. of stone over the underdrains, followed by 18 inches of gravel and then 30 inches of fine sharp sand. He based his sizing on the assumption of 12 mgd or a consumption of 30 gallons per capita per day.
Based upon Kirkwood's suggested sizing and per capita consumption figures, each filter would deliver 1.2 mgd. Ten would have been needed to supply 12 million gallons daily.
On March 13, 1867, the General Assembly passed an Act authorizing the issuance of bonds for the new works to the amount of $300,000, and appointing a new Commission. This Commission consisted of Geo. K. Budd, Alexander Crozier, and Henry Flad. The Commission organized on March 22, 1867 and on March 26, Mr. Kirkwood was requested to resume the duty of Chief Engineer from which he had been relieved by the former board. Mr. Kirkwood declined further service as Chief Engineer, and recommended Mr. Thomas J. Whitman for that position. Mr. Whitman reported for duty on May 7, 1867. Mr. Kirkwood returned to New York in 1867. He was elected President of the American Society of Civil Engineers and served in that capacity from 1867 to 1868. The last years of his life were busy years, although he was in ill health. He died on April 22, 1877.
Mr. Whitman favored the original Kirkwood Chain of Rocks proposal, adding his opinion to many other competent engineers who had examined the situation carefully. He found, however, that he was bound to proceed with the Bissells Point Plan.
The works were built, consisting of an intake on the river bank; a low service pumping station; settling basins; a high service pump station; a standpipe and a storage reservoir on Compton Hill. Except for the stand-pipe in the form of a Corinthian column and the reservoir at Compton Hill, the Bissells Point works has vanished under the pounding of the headache ball. The plant as built at that time had a capacity of 32 mgd. It went into complete operation in 1871.
Thomas Jefferson Whitman, under whose supervision the Bissells Point plant was built, was the younger brother of Walt Whitman, the poet. At the time the Whitman family lived in Brooklyn, New York. Their parents must have been imbued with the spirit of nationalism as a result of the War of 1812, as they had other sons named Andrew Jackson Whitman and George Washington Whitman. In 1848, Thomas and his brother Walt made their way back from a trip to New Orleans via steamboat, the Great Lakes and the Hudson River. They stayed only a few hours in St. Louis, which was to be Thomas' adopted City from 1867 until November of 1890 when he died. During the Civil War, Thomas Whitman, called "Jeff," was Asst. Chief Engineer for the Boston Water Works. During this period, he was the sole support of the other members of his family, even though his salary had been cut from $100 to $50 per month. In September. of 1879, Walt Whitman made an extended visit to his brother Thomas, returning east in January of 1880.
With the completion of the Bissells Point Pumping Station, St.. Louis enjoyed an adequate, if muddy, supply of water for the next 23 years. The physical aspect of the plant was imposing, the building being of brick with heavy stone trim. J.A. Dacus and James Buel in their book "A Tour of St. Louis or The Inside Life of a Great City," published in 1878, describe the High Service Station as "consisting of an engine room, boiler house, coal shed, and a handsome smokestack 134 feet high. It is constructed of brick, with base, cornice, and string course of cut stone. The angles are also dressed with cut stone. The main entrance is reached by a broad flight of stone steps, and above the doorway, on the pediment of the principal facade, are two sculptured figures, the "Union of Waters" symbolical of the union of Missouri and Mississippi."
In 1876 the City withdrew from the County and adopted a charter which not only set the City limits at its present location, but also shifted the supervision of the Water Works from a Board of Water Commissioners to a Water Commissioner. This office was retained in the Charter revision of 1914, and still remains today.
Additions to the High Service Pumping facilities at Bissells Point were begun in 1881 and continued until 1894. A new pumping station complete with pumping mains and a new standpipe located at Blair and Bissell, was installed to bring the total high service pumping capacity to 65 mgd.
In order to keep pace with this quantity of water on the High side, it was necessary to build a temporary Low-service supply. This plant consisted of pumps moving up and down an inclined plane, according to the stage of the river.
After several unsuccessful attempts to secure the necessary legislation authorizing the extension of a permanent low service plant, the City Council passed Ordinance No. 14212, approved September 7, 1887, establishing a low service station at the Chain of Rocks.
On the second day of the meeting which founded the American Water Works Association in St. Louis, Thomas Jefferson Whitman, Water Commissioner of the City of St. Louis, and his young assistant Minard L. Holman were in attendance. They extended to those present an invitation to visit the Bissells Point Works by conveyance by buggy to East Grand Avenue.
Minard LaFevre Holman was principal Assistant Engineer in Charge of Water Works Extension during the period of the design of the Chain of Rocks Plant. Born on June 15, 1852 in Mexico, Maine, he came to St. Louis with his parents in 1859. After attending public schools of the City, he was graduated from Washington University in June of 1874. Mr. Holman was with the water dept. from 1877 to 1887 and returned to the Dept. in 1899 to become Water Commissioner.
He was largely responsible for the original design of Chain of Rocks, which was conceived as a plain sedimentation basin system, after the rejection of the slow sand filters envisioned and recommended by James P. Kirkwood in 1866.
The Chain of Rocks Plant, when it went into service in 1894, consisted of an intake structure located in the river about 1500 feet from shore. The downtake shaft from this tower supplied a tunnel 7 feet. in diameter which terminated in a wet well.
The low service steam pumps of the crank and flywheel type boosted the water to a delivery well, and thence to the filling conduit which fed the water to six enormous sedimentation basins. These basins were arranged in parallel for the "Fill and Draw" method of sedimentation, by an arrangement of gates on the filling side and a companion gate on the drawing side. After a period of plain sedimentation, the water was collected continuously by a drawing conduit, which supplied water by gravity to the High Service Station at Bissells Point, 7-1/2 miles downstream from the new works.
At this stage in the history of the St. Louis Waterworks, St. Louis had a Low Service Station at Chain of Rocks and a High Service Station at Bissells Point, with storage at Compton Hill. A short time later, the High Service Station at Baden was built to serve the area west and north of the Compton Hill Low Level System.
Because of the high turbidity of the settled water being delivered to the Consumers, many investigations were tried to increase the removal of suspended solids by the plain sedimentation method. Among these was the design of the filling chamber in the shape of a section of a cycloid.
This was supposed to be the path taken by a falling particle under the influence of gravity in the shortest possible time. Another gadget was the skimming weir, with the water flowing in a thin sheet from one basin to the next. All of these schemes failed to clarify the water any better than the "fill and draw" method.
At the turn of the century, St. Louis, the largest City in the Mississippi Valley was making plans to celebrate the purchase of the Louisiana Territory by Thomas Jefferson in 1803, by an exposition known popularly as the "World's Fair." Mayor Rolla Wells had promised the Fair Committee that St. Louis would have clear water for the Fair.
Experiments in the use of Lime and Ferrous Sulfate had been made at Quincy, Illinois, using Ferrous Sulfate, a by-product of the pickling of steel with sulfuric acid at the plant of the American Steel and Wire Company.
Heeding the order of Mayor Wells, Ben C. Adkins, Water Commissioner, and Edward E. Wall, principal Assistant, investigated the process at Quincy.
The Quincy Process consisted of the use of saturated lime water produced and settled by slaking quicklime in a large tank. The supernatent was then added to the water under purification together with the ferrous sulfate.
This was obviously unsuitable for a large supply such as St. Louis and Mr. Wall, in a paper subsequently published, said, "At Quincy, Illinois, and other places, the lime was reduced to a solution and added in constant quantity of known strength. To undertake to add the requisite quantity of lime water to the raw water used at St. Louis, meant a reduction from thirty to forty tons of lime daily, which would necessitate a maximum capacity of about ten million gallons of lime water. To manufacture such a quantity of lime water every 24 hours would require an equipment of machinery and storage so large as to make the idea utterly impracticable."
Accordingly, the department hired John F. Wixford , a Chemist and Assayer, to investigate, and if possible, improve the process to manageable proportions. After numerous experiments, Wixford found that the use of milk of lime, slaked at a temperature of 190 degrees F. gave consistently good results. He patented his process in the United States and Great Britain.
Wixford did some of his work at the old May St. Extension Office and some of it in his own lab on North Ninth Street. At one place in his investigation, he was assisted by Charles H. Holman, the young son of former Water Commissioner Minar L. Holman, who worked with him setting up the experiments. It is because of Wixford's work that World's Fair visitors and St. Louisans alike were delighted by the sparkling clarity of the waterfall at the Cascades, a focal point in the Fair plan.
John Frederick Wixford was born in St. Louis, graduated from Washington University in 1886, majoring in Chemistry. He maintained a laboratory and assay office in his home, a three story brick building which formerly stood at 2223 N. 9th Street. He was a lifelong bachelor, who used the first floor for his laboratory, the third for his living quarters and the second as a flop-house for the neighborhood derelicts.
He was a brilliant eccentric who worked in the manner of Thomas Edison, in that he had no regular hours when working on a problem. He would pursue it until he became tired; sleep on a cot in the laboratory, then rise and go at it again.
During such sessions, there were no regular meals or personal grooming. His clothes and appearance were as disreputable as the people who were quartered on the second floor. He performed his own dental work with copper wire.
When the occasion demanded it, however, he dressed in his best to transform into a distinguished gentleman. I can recall when he and I took the examination given by the old Efficiency Board when he returned to the Water Division in 1927, he appeared in a clean, ancient suit, derby hat, wing collar and ascot tie, carrying a gold-headed cane.
Edward E. Wall, Asst. Water Commissioner from 1903 to 1911, and Water Commissioner from 1911 to 1925 and Director of Public Utilities from 1933 to 1940, was an engineer and administrator of great ability, who guided the St. Louis Water Works through the period of its greatest expansion. He was a graduate in Civil Engineering from the University of Missouri in 1884.
As the people of the City of St. Louis knew Mr. Wall for his accomplishments as Water Commissioner for so long a time, it would seem strange that they were not equally familiar with Mr. Wixford and his contribution to the health and welfare of the City.
As I knew both of these men, I can say in plain truth that Mr. Wall not only ignored Wixford's work, but discredited him at every opportunity. No less a person than Prof. Francis E. Nipher of Washington University said in a statement written in behalf of Wixford, "In Mr. Wall's paper in the Transactions of the American Society of Civil Engineers, November 6, 1907, for which he (Mr. Wall) is reported to have received a prize, Mr. Wixford's name is not mentioned as having had anything to do with planning the "New Process" (as Mr. Wall styles it in another paper in Engineering News, Vol 521, No. 17). His paper is worded in language well calculated to create the impression that Mr. Wall was the inventor of the "New Process." And so, even the greatest of us have feet of clay!
Beyond setting the record straight in a controversy between two able men, there is no point in pursuing it at this late date. It becomes a blind spot in the character of a great engineer, who probably was secretly ashamed of his performance.
As a result of chemical coagulation of the highly turgid Mississippi River water, St. Louis not only enjoyed clear water, but was able to put her best foot forward for the world to see during the Fair.
In 1908 a new coagulant house was built to contain storage for lime and ferrous sulfate, machinery to put them into solution, and pumps and proportioning equipment to feed the charges accurately.
In 1911, Mr. Wall was made Water Commissioner. He immediately began to envision improvements and expansion of the Water Works to the 1930's. A new intake was built mid-stream, and slightly upstream from the original raw intake. He also promoted the conception of a filter plant as a final step in the purification of the Water which comprised Primary and Secondary Coagulation, followed by filtration and chlorination.
Edward E. Wall was a man of vision and stature. Born in Cambridge, Missouri, on August 15, 1860, he was educated in public schools and the University of Missouri where he graduated in 1884 with a degree in Civil Engineering. During his long career, he was employed on railroad surveys and construction; surveys of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers 1884-1889; engaged in engineering and contracting 1890-1892; Asst. Engineer St. Louis Water Works and Sewer Dept. 1893-1903; and as principal Asst. Engineer and Asst. Water Commissioner 1903-1911. His concept for the Filter Plant at Chain of Rocks was imaginative, and he was able to attract and hold some of the most skilled engineers to work on the project.
At the time of its dedication in 1915, this plant was the largest filter plant in the world. With 40 filters stretching along an aisle 700 feet long, it was, and still is, impressive. Designed for 4 mgd per filter, it has a capacity of 160 million gallons daily. The filters, with a media of sand and gravel, are of the ridge-block and strainer plate construction. The controls, until a recent installation for air operation, were hydraulically operated. It is the opinion of some, myself included, that the ridge-block and strainer plate construction of a filter underdrain, has advantages over most current underdrain systems, from the standpoint of reliability and uniformity of washing. It is a matter of some pride to the present Water Division management that these filters perform as perfectly today as the day they were built 53 years ago. This, I think, is a testimony to good maintenance and intelligent operation.
By the summer of 1912, Mr. Wall, as part of his plans to keep St. Louis ahead in the matter of plentiful supply of pure water, had survey parties on the Missouri River at a place called Howard Bend. He thought it well for St. Louis to have a second string to her bow in the way of an "independent and separately operated water plant." The location was west, to serve the population which had begun to press upon the corporate limits of the City.
By 1923, the plans for the new works at Howard Bend were far enough along so that a cost estimate of $11,000,000 could be included in a Bond issue election for general City improvements. This passed handily, and St. Louis was again on the move in its effort to change its image.
The original plant, which went into service in October of 1929, consisted of two presedimentation basins, two primary coagulation basins, secondary coagulation and sedimentary basins, carbonation and filtration. The presedimentation and primary coagulation basins were equipped with Dorr Clarifiers for continuous sludge removal. Later, in 1931, the capacity was increased to include four additional small and one large basin.
All of us fallible human beings are inclined to view past events with a vision that is somewhat distorted in its perspective. The water works man looks at the design and construction of the early plants in his department, and imagines that the span from conception to construction and beyond, was unmarred by mishap or failure. Everything worked exactly as planned. The author arrived at Howard Bend in 1931, almost 2 years after startup. A host of things were still not working. John D. Fleming, the first Chemical Engineer in charge of Howard Bend said in one of the Annual Reports, "The Otis Elevator at the Coagulant House has not been at all miserly in its contribution to the general fund of Coagulant House troubles." Mr. Fleming was never one to pull punches. Eventually all systems were "go", and with one or two exceptions which still plague operation, the plant functions in a satisfactory manner.
The St. Louis Water Works has always tried to be in the vanguard of new developments, seeking to devise and explore new methods for better operation, treatment and quality.
For years, until the main stem and tributary dams built on the Missouri by the Corps of Engineers changed the raw water quality, both plants coped with extremes in turbidity and color. Turbidities ranging up to 18,000 JCU were common, and the average was 2500 JCU. Today the average turbidity is around 500 JCU. We were, of necessity, engaged with exploration of methods by which better coagulation could be effected to bring the influent to the filters to a reasonable level. One illustration is the pioneer work of August V. Graf, Chief Chemical Engineer, who, with the author, discovered and developed the use of activated silica as an aid to coagulation. This work was begun in 1934 and culminated in a patent in 1941 to W.B. Schworm and A.V. Graf. Mr. Graf, who graduated from Washington University in the first class on the present campus, was employed by the Water Department in 1911, the year Mr. Wall became Water Commissioner. Whether there is any connection between these two events, I cannot say. He remained in charge of purification until his retirement in 1960 at the age of 80.
As part of the 1923 expansion of the Howard Bend System, the City built a reservoir on Stratman Hill on the Olive Street Road, at a point where the St. Louis County Water Co., had a reservoir for 25 years. The City structure was named Stacey Park, and has a capacity of 100 million gallons. It serves the high level system, generally in the west and south portions of the City.
With the exception of primary and secondary mixing and conditioning basins which were constructed in 1954-1955, the Howard Bend Station has had very few changes in recent years. Some errors in engineering judgment have been corrected which have produced a water plant which is as satisfying to operate as it is to look at.
In the career of every man, one event and one person will stand out and be remembered. The event will usually be one that taxes ingenuity and stamina, and the person is usually the man who prevented the event from becoming a catastrophe. The man I have in mind at that time in my career is John B. Dean, the event is the flood of 1951. Mr. Dean, Division Engineer of the Supply and Purifying Section until his death in 1960 was a man of foresight. As a young engineer out of college, his early experience with rivers and their moods was gained as an assistant engineer on the Corps of Engineer boats.
Several years before the flood of 1951, Mr. Dean had formulated a plan to protect the water plants from disaster. At the time this included Chain of Rocks, Howard Bend, and Bissells Point. His plan was so comprehensive and detailed in every respect that the person in charge of each plant could read what he could expect at every elevation, and prepare for it. The result was order instead of chaos, faith instead of apprehension.
In the late 1950's, Mr. Conway D. Driscoe, Director of Public Utilities, and others, decided to electrify the Chain of Rocks Station. This decision had far reaching implications. It called for abandonment of steam as the prime mover for low service pumping. It envisioned the construction of large transmission lines to the high and low distribution levels, which ultimately made the Bissells Point and Baden Steam Station obsolete.
A new electric distributive pumping station at Chain of Rocks took over the functions of these earlier steam plants. The steam plants have since been demolished.
No stone remains to delight the eye, and the sound of the steam escaping from the poppet valves of the big E.P. Allis triple expansion engines remains only in the mind.
All that remains of the original pumping plant at the Chain of Rocks Station is the pump pit, which has had its face lifted by a new modern exterior facade.
As part of the plan, a new clear basin of 10 MG capacity was built to cushion the suction of the High Service pumps. The design of the wall structure, conceived by E.E. Easterday, Engineer in Charge of Design and Construction, was unique and original. It consists of phalanx of contiguous truncated cones, which allow the hollow interiors to function as a dry well.
Later, in 1960, the old Brick Coagulant House, built in 1908, was replaced by a new one at a higher elevation, where the chemical lines to the primary and secondary coagulation stages could be shortened considerably.
As the last building to be abandoned under the most recent expansion, the Coagulant House at Chain of Rocks is deserving of special mention. It lasted for 52 years and could, with installation of more modern machinery, have lasted another 50. Its old direct current motors and pendulum clock-operated timing devices were still going strong when the AC-DC motor generator which supplied the current was shut down for the last time.
As the buildings, the machinery, and particularly the men who made the St. Louis Water division what it is, fade into the limbo of the past, we can remember the things as they were. But we as Water Works men cannot live in the past or in the present. It is we who live 20 to 30 years in the future. It has been always thus, except that now the pace is faster.