Water tanks

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by billk, Jun 12, 2002.

  1. billk

    billk Active Member

    The UP 4-6-6-4 Challenger came through yesterday - MAN what a sight! It got me thinking about the age of steam and I started wondering about the water tanks that were such a fixture back then:
    Where did the water come from?
    How did it get there?
    How did it get into the tank?
    Was it treated or filtered in any way?
    Did the tanks always have a top (i.e. is Petticoat Junction wrong?)
  2. Roger Hensley

    Roger Hensley Member

    These answers are from my memory only.

    >>Where did the water come from?
    Wells. Later, city connections.

    >>How did it get there?
    Pumps. Later, city mains. If you find photos of old installations, you will sometimes see a windmill like those used on farms nearby. They pumped the well water up into the tank. Later, depending upon the area coal oil powered pumps were used and the railroads also used steam pumps and then, of course, electicity.

    >>How did it get into the tank?

    >>Was it treated or filtered in any way?
    Sometimes if the water was terribly alkaline or heavy on minerals. Most generally not.

    >>Did the tanks always have a top (i.e. is Petticoat Junction wrong?)
    No. They did not always have a top for small lines. The larger Class 1 lines alomost always did. They didn't want their water supply contaminated (even by pretty ladies swimming in them).

    Now, we can sit back and wait for more authoritive answers to come. :)
  3. billk

    billk Active Member

    Thanks, Roger. Actually I was thinking about earlier eras when city water and maybe even pumps were nothing but a "wet dream" (pun intended;) ).
    Bill K
  4. Roger Hensley

    Roger Hensley Member

    I don't think that they had railroads before they had pumps. They had manual and wind powered pumps when the U.S became a country. :)
  5. rockislandmike

    rockislandmike Active Member

    Speaking of which, I've got a wood water tank that needs to be assembled that doesn't fit in with my layout (1980). Came with a shed that I have assembled and is on my layout, but the water tank is available for trade/swap/etc. Let me know.

    (I think it's a Model Power???).
  6. Vic

    Vic Active Member


    Hi Billk, Speaking of the UP they actually built huge underground cisterns to capture ground water and spring water. I understand that some of them still exist in Kansas and are considered to be local attractions as they are much like underground man made caves.

    By the way....in the last issue of NG&SLG there is an article about the Peticoat Junction tank....its been torn down:(

    Water with a high lime content was avoided or treated heavily as it was rough on boilers.

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