WATERWORKS OF GREENSBORO, HALE COUNTY, ALABAMA1
(Published in 1908)
It is a far cry from “the old oaken bucket that hung in the well” to a modern system of water works, but that is the distance Greensboro has traveled. In the early days, the citizens were entirely dependent upon the water drawn from wells by means of rope and bucket for their supply. The business portion of the town was furnished from a couple of wells—one of which was located in the exact center of the Main street where it is intersected by Tuscaloosa street, and the other was in the center of Main street where it is intersected by Market and Post Office Streets.
Wells were filled in
As the town increased in population, these wells were found to be badly situated and were filled in, and three others dug in their stead,—one on the edge of the sidewalk on the south side of Main street nearly opposite the Powers store; one on the edge of the sidewalk on the north side of Main street at the Southeast corner of the Greensboro Hotel, and the other on the South side of Main street on the edge of the sidewalk northwest of the Court House.
These wells were supplied with pumps, instead of buckets, in 1874, and the citizens considered that quite an advance in the line of progress had been made. This method of obtaining water was continued until 1893, when a complete system of water works was inaugurated by Charles E. Waller, Esq., and the wells were filled up, and are now parts of the sidewalk.
HON. CHARLES E. WALLER established and owned the Greensboro Water Works System (HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALABAMA From Its Earliest Settlement by William Edward Wadsworth Yerby, Montgomery, Alabama)
Search for artesian water
The first steps toward obtaining waterworks were made by the town authorities in 1890, when, with the object in view of obtaining an overflowing well of artesian water, they contracted to have one bored. The work was begun that year and continued for about eighteen months on a lot which is now covered by the Southwest corner of the Court House.
Just here it is worthy of note that one day, just as the workman had wearily picked through about twenty feet of rock at a depth of 520 feet, his auger suddenly dropped a distance of 15 feet, and the water in the piping that had for a month or more stood at a depth of 48 feet from the surface, receded to a depth of 110 feet.
Underground river discovered
From these facts, it was decided by those who know much of geology, that it was an underground river fifteen feet deep that had been struck. The iron casing was, after a time, forced through the gap, and the work of boring continued until a depth of 890 feet was reached, when the workman broke off his drill, and after many vain efforts to remove it, the well was abandoned, after an expenditure by the town of about $5,000.00.
Somewhat discouraged, but not entirely disheartened, by the first failure, the town authorities decided to try again and put the workman to boring in the bottom immediately south of Main Street where the Water and Light Plant is now located. They were successful here, for in a few weeks, at a depth of 432 feet, a bold stream was struck that overflowed gently. Another well was bored near this one, and at the same depth, the same stream was struck. The cost of the two was only $550.00.
Waller granted a franchise
Not wishing to undertake the “Municipal Ownership” problem, the Mayor and Council contracted with Charles E. Waller, Esq., to take the wells, and he at once proceeded to establish a system of water works. Mr. Waller paid the town $1200.00 for the last two mentioned wells and a couple of small lots adjacent. He was granted a franchise for a period of thirty years from 1893,-the franchise to be renewed and extended another thirty years at the expiration of the first period should he or his successors and assigns choose to renew the contract, and the terms of the contract having been faithfully complied with by the party of the second part.
Mr. Waller continued to own the Water Works until the year 1900 when he disposed of the property to James E. Webb of Birmingham. Mr. Webb combined the Electric and Waterworks Plants, – the combination being styled “The Greensboro Water and Light Company.”
Mr. Webb continued to own and operate the plant until 1904, when it was purchased by J. A. Blunt and associates.
The present (1908) steel water tank was erected in 1905 and has a capacity of 80,000 gallons. Its extreme height is 136 ½ feet.