The Heritage Corner, Springhill Record

April 5, 2006

April 5, 2006–Springhill’s Water System

At the turn of the century Springhill had to confront the problem of water supply for the mines, to fight fires like the ones in 1895-1896, and with the outbreak of epidemics such as typhoid fever.

When the mines were first opened there was a lot of surface water from the brook which ran through the park but as the town grew the pond became used up and then water had to be brought in from Springhill Junction in engine tanks. After awhile they got a specially constructed car to carry the water, and then a second car was needed. After that they used three discarded boilers fitted as containers and then finally a regular water train and crew became part of the railway system.

Before a water system was installed in Springhill when a fire broke out, the Mining Company always sent a water train to the Junction where water barrels were filled. The barrels were covered with bags which had been soaked in water and a hoop put around the barrel to keep them from spilling. When they reached Springhill they were put on a wagon, six at a time, and taken to the fire. Bucket Brigades were formed and the water was splashed on to the fire.

When the water ran low at the Junction it was brought in from the Maccan River . This water was emptied into the bank pond near the engine house at No. 2 bankhead. There was also a similar reservoir called Higgins Pond, it was man made and was on the site where the Mining Company later built their Boiler Plant.

Following the explosion of 1891 a pumping station was erected to replace the water train. The old brook was deepened and used as a reservoir connected by sluices, the upper pond, south side of McGee St; the middle pond; and the lower pond or Fraser Pond, providing about four and one quarter million gallons of water.

There were many springs and wells in Springhill, which were located by Mr. Card with his boring tools and Mr. Chapman with his divining rod, but, as the town grew, the water supply lessened. John Wilson, who was a baker, came up with an idea. He had a 200 ft. lot with a large well on it and had Mr. Card and Mr. Tower bore for water which they struck at 80 feet and which rose 7 feet above the surface. He had the Browns build a tank to hold about fifteen hundred gallons of water. The foundation was about 4 ft high on which an 8 ft tank sat. There was a 185 pipe line leading from the tank. Mr. Wilson began to deliver water on a regular route for two years and then he leased the business to Charles Oulton and Peter Cudhea who ran it for another two years.

In the meantime, the Town was working on a permanent water system and pipes were laid. The water comes from a reservoir, fed by a spring in the Maccan Hills, seven miles distant and from British Lake, which runs down Herrett Road and up into town.

On Sept. 21, 1904 a great tank was built at the top of Princess St . It stood about 50 feet high. Much of the success of this project was due to the work of the following Mayors: Conway, McKinnon, Hall and Wilson. . The water system was among the best in the Dominion for many years. The old tank is presently being torn down. An even bigger tank was built beside the old one on Pleasant Street in 1978.

In 1971 a chlorination plant was built for the drinking water.

With the closing of the mines a geothermal heat was developed using the water from the mines. Some businesses in town are using it today including the new Dr. Carson and Marion Murray Community Center .

The Town of Springhill is currently working on the development of a new water system.