Highland News Leader

A Thought to Remember: City of Highland built first water tower in 1929

This photo shows the old concrete reservoir and the 1929 elevated steel water tower. Bruno Bargetzi, the city’s former water superintendent wrote this on the back of the photo: “This is our new standpipe where I pump the water in and the city gets it out of there by gravity. That four-cornered building you see on the side of it is the old water tank, which we don’t use anymore. The new tank is 109 feet high. How would like to crawl up there? I have to go up there once a week... It is 75 feet to where the catwalk is. It hold 100,000 gallons of water.”
This photo shows the old concrete reservoir and the 1929 elevated steel water tower. Bruno Bargetzi, the city’s former water superintendent wrote this on the back of the photo: “This is our new standpipe where I pump the water in and the city gets it out of there by gravity. That four-cornered building you see on the side of it is the old water tank, which we don’t use anymore. The new tank is 109 feet high. How would like to crawl up there? I have to go up there once a week... It is 75 feet to where the catwalk is. It hold 100,000 gallons of water.”

The city of Highland, in 1925, purchased the Highland Water Co., which was owned by the Helvetia Milk Condensing Co. and the Highland Brewing Co., taking over the water supply for Highland.

The Centennial book gives the following details: “Early in 1925, the City Council made arrangements to buy the reservoir and the 80 acres of ground of the Highland Water Co.”

George Roth, who had the Roth Hardware Store, which became Hagnauer & Knoebel Hardware Store, was the president of the Highland Water Co. In 1885, he became a director and worked for Helvetia Milk Condensing Co. In 1889, he became the president of the water company. (See my last week’s column for the early details.)

“The amount of money arranged (for the total project) was $175,000. Of this amount, $50,000 was paid to the Highland Water Co. for the 80 acres, the milkhouse spring, the concrete reservoir atop the hill, the piping into Highland and the water plant.

“Later, $4,600 was paid to Fred Mueller for his lease on this 80 acres, as he had been the agent in the two companies purchasing this land, and he was granted a lease as compensation for his services. The lease stated he could use the 80 acres for pasture or crop purpose.”

City leaders wanted control, as they were going to make a much larger lake just west of the Bargetzi Lake. It was to be called the City Reservoir Lake, with a dam just east of Little Silver Creek. (Later, Little Silver Creek was just called Silver Creek.)

Just south of the present dam, Silver Creek turns west, then almost through St. Jacob Township, it turns south and runs under U.S. Highway 40, just west of Route 4. The other Silver Creek also runs under U.S. 40, just west of the original Triad High School, now the junior high school.

“The remaining portion of the $175,000 was spent in laying pipe lines all over the city, building the reservoir dam and in building a larger purifying plant adjacent to the City Reservoir Lake. (This purifying plant is still in use after additions on both sides.)

“In 1929, the old concrete water reservoir atop the hill, because of its height, did not furnish the desired pressure that the entire city needed. The use of water in the homes and the water needed for industry was constantly increasing; it became necessary that the dam be raised five feet, so that a bigger supply of water could be impounded. The cost was $6,000.

“While R. Keith Tibbetts, the son of Dr. Moses Tibbetts, was mayor, a new elevated steel tank was constructed at a cost of $7,000. (See photo above.) The new steel tank was located on the same hill as the old concrete reservoir, and the new tank furnished the needed pressure in all parts of Highland.

“The summers of 1934, 1935 and 1936 were severe droughts, and the supply of water became dangerously low. The first move made was to install a large pump to force water from Silver Creek into the City Reservoir at a cost of $4,000. They then raised the dam at the City Reservoir another 10 feet, and this concrete work was completed in later 1936. The remainder of the original 80 acres was being transformed into a very beautiful and attractive park, which has been continued to expand and is our present Silver Lake Park.”

Later, a large steel elevated tank was installed at 12th and Zschokke. It is still in use, and the remainder of the lot is used as the Tot Lot Park.

(My next column will continue with the problems of not enough water for Highland in the 1950s and the building of Highland’s present Silver Lake, the dam, which today is Illinois Route 143 and the new spillway.)

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