The Boneyard

Evansville Waterworks at Sunset Park
Evansville, Indiana

A long-felt need was met in 1871 with the erection of a waterworks system and pumping plant, located in the eastern end of what is now Sunset Park. Water, drawn from the river, was pumped into the water mains without being filtered.

The system provided adequate supply for general purposes and made possible the use of plumbing equipment in homes and business places. Cisterns still provided the water for drinking and cooking purposes. The use of sanitary toilet facilities was not required by law and the population was rather slow to discard the outside toilet. Even as late as 1930 there were many dwellings without sanitary indoor plumbing.

The waterworks also provided a much better system of fire protection with water mains laid along the street and fire hydrants installed at suitable intervals. The old cisterns, which had been at the street corners as the source of water for firefighting, were filled in and covered. With the new water system adequate in pressure and volume, the steam pumpers were put aside as unnecessary for a year or two, they thought, until a rather bad fire one windy night convinced the firemen that the pumpers were needed.

The waterworks in Sunset Park served well until the growth of the city and the increased use of water made the old plant obsolete. In 1895. land was purchased on Shawnee Drive, a short distance from the river and the old plant. Contracts were let in December, 1895, for a new pumping plant. Completed and put into operation in 1900, it was regarded at that time as one of the best in the country.

From "The Evansville Story" - James Morlock

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