Little Falls in Monongalia County, West Virginia — The American South (Appalachia)
Ralph Lemley: Resourceful Caretaker
Protecting the Reservoir with Constant Vigilance
The West Virginia Botanic Garden is on the site of the former Tibbs Run Reservoir. Ralph Lemley, the longest serving reservoir caretaker, was first listed as a laborer working for the Morgantown Water Commission in the 1935 city directory. He started to work as the reservoir caretaker in the late 1930s and helped build a house here around 1940. Mr. Lemley was an amateur mechanic who loved to tinker. For instance, he and his father built a tractor by stripping an old milk delivery truck. Ralph was fearless as he drove the tractor down mud-rutted roads that led to the reservoir. As the reservoir caretaker, Ralph adjusted the outlet tower gates to control outflow into the pipe system and treated the water. In order to prevent any seepage or potential embankment failure, he tended to groundhog burrows or overgrowth of vegetation. Mr. Lemley also kept an eye out for trespassers who might contaminate the water. These tasks required his daily attention.
Supporting a Family with Gardens and Bees
Ralph Lemley, his wife Grace, and their three daughters were the
Above: Drawing of shared property courtesy of Ralph Cale, grandson of Ralph Lemley. The foundation of the cellar of the main house can still be seen here today. The dotted line shows the current property boundary, where there is now a fence. Left: Lemley with his grandson Ralph on his tractor; a prized deer; and capturing bees. Right: The Lemley house; Ralph Lemley with potatoes from the garden; and with his wife Grace. Photos courtesy of Ralph Cale, Barbara Boggs, Joe Alvarez, and Ada June Lemley Ball.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Environment • Parks & Recreational Areas. A significant historical year for this entry is 1935.
Location. 39° 37.859′ N, 79° 52.194′ W. Marker is in Little Falls, West Virginia, in Monongalia County. Marker can be reached from Tyrone Road (County Road 75) 0.1 miles south of Quartz Drive, on the right when traveling north. The marker is on the left side at the entrance to the West Virginia Botanic Garden at Tibbs Run Preserve within the Eclectic Garden. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1061 Tyrone Road, Morgantown WV 26508, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Tibbs Run Reservoir: Then a Water Source, Now a Local Treasure (approx. 0.2 miles away); "Clean Mountain Water" Not So Clean (approx. 0.2 miles away); Who Wants Clean Water? (approx. ¼ mile away); Clean Water Comes To Morgantown (approx. 0.3 miles away); A Small Dam and a Big "Bowl" Meet the Need for Clean Water (approx. 0.3 miles away); Strong Men and Horses Build the Basin (approx. 0.3 miles away); Remnants of the Past: The Dam and Outlet Tower (approx. 0.3 miles away); Veterans Memorial (approx. 1.6 miles away).
Credits. This page was last revised on May 18, 2021. It was originally submitted on May 14, 2021, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia. This page has been viewed 129 times since then and 37 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on May 14, 2021, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia. • Devry Becker Jones was the editor who published this page.