The Pump House
The Pump House has been undergoing a transformation in recent months. On Friday night it emerged from its renovations at the Centennial Scout Museum. As the Pump House begins its new life, we thought it might be nice to take a moment to explore its original creation. The Pump House was donated to the Council as part of the 1959 Capital Development Campaign by the Clover Bottom Development Center. It operated from 1959, pumping water from the lake, purifying that water, and then pumping the clean water up to the Water tower by the Crab. The Pump House was finally closed in 1976 when repairs were deemed too costly. The Reservation tied into Laguardo Water District.
At one point though, the pump house was quite an operation. If you’ve ever wondered how the Pump House actually operated, Kerry Parker operated the facility for a period around 1968-1969. IN an interview in 2001, he explained how the building operated. There’s more to this story, which we’ll tell another time, but this gives a basic operation of the water plant at Boxwell…
The Horseshoe down there is an old quarry of some kind. That’s why the walls are like they are… And they’ve got that metal deck, if it’s still down there, with the two pumps on it that stand out over the water. And those are the intake pumps from the lake. Those pumps pumped [water] up through a long trough that had weirs in it, things that make the water go up and down, and you’d add alum at the beginning of that trough and it mixes it up, going up and down in operation, under the weir and over the weir and under the weir and over the weir. And that thing was probably about ten feet deep and about three feet wide.
Then [the water] would come out of the wears into a tank that used to be on the dining hall side of the pump house. [T]hat was a settling tank. Now, in the settling tank, the water slows down. And since it’s been mixing with the alum, and the alum makes the dirt in the water coagulate into kind of a clear coagulation, and it’s heavy. And it will settle to the bottom.
Off the top of the settling tank, going into the plant, into the inside of the Pump house on the second floor, it goes into a sand filter. It goes in and washes over the sides and falls onto a sand filter. Goes down through a sand filter and then goes down into a big tank. That’s still there the last time I was out there, below the plant into what’s called a spring tank. Now that’s water that’s ready to drink, is a spring tank. And on top of the spring tank there’s two more pumps and those pumps pump the water up the line to the tank at the top of the hill. And there’s a set of sensors in those tanks that when the pressure gets a certain point, when the [water tower] tank gets full at the top of the hill, it’ll shut those pumps down.