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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Morgantown in Monongalia County, West Virginia — The American South (Appalachia)
 

Clean Water Comes To Morgantown

Interpreting History

 
 
Clean Water Comes To Morgantown Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bradley Owen, May 13, 2021
1. Clean Water Comes To Morgantown Marker
Inscription.  
Residents Welcome Tibbs Run Water
Tibbs Run did not supply water to the reservoir here until 1912. It did, however, serve as a public water source earlier. In 1889, the new Union Improvement Company (UIC) purchased 210 acres of land south of here within the Tibbs Run watershed - known as the most reliable and clean water supply in the area. In just five weeks, they were sending water from Tibbs Run through gravity-fed pipes running along Tibbs Run and Deckers Creek to town.

When UIC opened its mains, "the sparkling water from the mountain springs" flowed in, reported the Morgantown Weekly Post. UIC demonstrated success by attaching a hose to a fire plug on Front Street (now University Avenue) and throwing a stream of water 1 inch in diameter 100 feet into the air.

"Oh, who'd a' thought it?' 'Geeminy, don't she spit madly?' and similar expressions were heard from the excited denizen on all sides."… The next day some boys took the hose to the courthouse and "threw a stream of water right into Patrick Henry's face… and several feet over his head.” – Morgantown Weekly Post
How
Clean Water Comes To Morgantown Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bradley Owen, May 13, 2021
2. Clean Water Comes To Morgantown Marker
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to Supply Enough Clean Water?

In order to ensure an adequate supply of water to all residents, water was also drawn from the Monongahela River and local wells. This water was piped a short distance to the water works on the riverfront south of downtown Morgantown. Each source produced a different quality of water, although the Tibbs Run water was almost always considered better. Most people still thought that, if the water was clear, it was safe, which we now know is not true. The seepage from outhouses in town could leak into the wells, and industrial and farming waste upstream often made the river water brown, putrid and foul tasting. Dry months could negatively affect all the sources, including Tibbs Run.

Improvements to the water works included installing crushed stone and sand water filters (1897) and building a new pumping station (1903). Still, citizens pressed for better quality water drawn from a larger, safer, year-round supply, fearing that the current water supply was in danger of causing a typhoid or cholera outbreak.

The Prices Paid for the Privilege
Price UIC paid for a 210-acre tract of land containing Tibbs Run in 1889: $200
Price UIC charged consumers in 1889: $6.00 for 1 - 2 pipes, or $7.50 for 3 - 4 pipes.
Price in the Morgantown City Council Ordinance on water rates in 1902: No family
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could be charged more than $21 per year for water service. This was a substantial sum, given that the average annual income for Monongalia County wage-earners in manufacturing was $400.68.

[Captions:]
Morgantown courthouse with Patrick Henry statue on top.
Photo courtesy of West Virginia and Regional History Collection, WVU Libraries.

Outhouses of homes on Stewart Street in Morgantown, W.Va., c. 1890. Clean piped water meant major improvements for residents.
Photo courtesy of West Virginia and Regional History Collection, WVU Libraries.

 
Erected 2014 by West Virginia Botanic Garden and West Virginia Humanities Council.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceNatural Resources. A significant historical year for this entry is 1889.
 
Location. 39° 37.759′ N, 79° 51.888′ W. Marker is in Morgantown, 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 east. The marker is located on the Reservoir Loop Trail at the West Virginia Botanic 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. A Small Dam and a Big "Bowl" Meet the Need for Clean Water
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(about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Who Wants Clean Water? (about 600 feet away); Strong Men and Horses Build the Basin (about 800 feet away); Remnants of the Past: The Dam and Outlet Tower (approx. ¼ mile away); The Tibbs Run Reservoir: Then a Water Source, Now a Local Treasure (approx. ¼ mile away); "Clean Mountain Water" Not So Clean (approx. 0.3 miles away); Ralph Lemley: Resourceful Caretaker (approx. 0.3 miles away); Veterans Memorial (approx. 1.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Morgantown.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on May 23, 2021. It was originally submitted on May 22, 2021, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia. This page has been viewed 60 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on May 22, 2021, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia. • Devry Becker Jones was the editor who published this page.

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Jun. 20, 2021