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It has taken more than two years to come to fruition, but Friday afternoon, the City of Carrollton and a host of other dignitaries officially broke ground for the new water tower that is being erected on the west side of town by the FS plant.
Mayor Mike Snyder welcomed members a small group of citizens, members of the Greene County Board, members of the Meek family, who provided the land for the erection of the water tower and Senator Steve McClure and Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer.
“There are a lot of people who have been a part of making this project become a reality,” Snyder said. “Susan, John and Rich Meek, were a very big part of making this happen, as well as the previous administration. They did a lot of work on this project. It didn’t just happen overnight – a lot of work went into getting to this point we are at now and we want to thank all the alderman and former Mayor Joe Montanez. I would also like to thank our current aldermen: Larry Gillingham, Gary Witt, John Banghart, Dewain Freand, Tim Reif and Bernie Faul. I think as we progress that big things are going to be happening in the city of Carrollton.”
Snyder then introduced Alderman Larry Gillingham, who is known as a historian. He looked up a history of Carrollton’s first water tower and presented that to the audience after giving his own thanks to those who made this day possible.
“First of all, I want to thank the Meek Family who has been so good to us over the years,” he said. “Our purchase of this site from one of their farm fields has saved Carrollton thousands of dollars because the main supply line is right here.”
He also thanked Sen. Steve McClure and Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer who have helped the city at the state and federal level to build and improve their water operations and Benton and Associates, the city’s engineers, without whom, this day would not be possible.
“The engineers at Benton and Associates always have our best interests at heart and they are an important part of our family, especially as we continue to move forward,” Gillingham said. “Water is our lifeline, our only produce and our special service to all our customers.”
This new 250,000-gallon tower is more than twice the capacity of the current 100,000-gallon tank that was built in 1924.
“With this new tower and with the new water treatment plant in our future, with three wells in the Illinois River bottoms, and plans for a fourth well, our supply of good, fresh, clean and pure water is truly a great asset, for us and for all who surrounds us and share our God-given land,” Gillingham said. “It is our job to manage it well and pass it on even better.”
Gillingham said it is good idea to take a look back at the past to more fully appreciate the present and future.
“During our first 100 years, we were on our own with water,” he said. “Most people had wells and cisterns and the city had wells on each corner of the square. In the 1840’s, some improvements were made – the wells were dug deeper and walled up.”
By 1896, the people of Carrollton realized that water was a commodity that was truly important to its residents. The Carrollton Patriot reported that “Carrollton has pure water and plenty of it.”
“According to this article in the Patriot in 1896, we had two deep wells, each over 1,300 feet deep, a duplex pumping engine and a reservoir holding 58,000 gallons of water,” Gillingham said. “We had a 116-foot water tower located at the ‘Calaboose’ site (where our present tower is located) which held 28,000 gallons, and in the city, there was between four and five miles of mains and about 45 fire hydrants.”
But the water supply continued to be a concern and the question on everyone’s mind was how much deeper and how many more wells could be dug. The Patriot newspaper began to chide the town fathers calling for action before spending more money on the current methods for delivering water to the town and its people.
Here is an excerpt from the 1901 Patriot.
“Three and a half miles, as the crow flies, almost due northwest of this city, on the farm of David Dodgson, are four springs of pure, sparkling water, flowing from the foot of a step bluff and swelling Coates Creek to quite a respectable little stream. The surrounding hills and wooded valleys make the spot one of the most picturesque in Greene County.”
The entire city council drove out to Dodgson Springs and drank of the crystal-clear water offered by the springs and right then and there all agreed that this was going to be Carrollton’s new water source. The land was bought for $500.
Construction of the current water tower began in September of 1924 by the Chicago Bridge and Iron Works under the supervision of Caldwell Engineering Co. of Jacksonville after the city issued bonds in the amount of $7,000. The winning construction bid was in the amount of $4,860 and the bid for removal of the old Calaboose tower was $618 by Philip Lobsinger of Alton.
The tower was completed and put into service in May of 1925. It stands 99 feet 11 and one-half inches to the bottom of the tank and 123- and one-half inch to the top of the conical roof. It has a capacity of 100,000 gallons and has served the city very well for the past 96 years, a remarkable feat since it was projected to have a useful life of 80 years.
“We are proud of our tower and all who have worked to maintain it over those years,” Gillingham said. “Thanks to everyone who are now working with us as we transition into a new era – one of larger and more automated operations and service to a larger community.”