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The Orange Standpipe

After the destructive fire of 1908 which destroyed a sizable part of downtown, Mayor Dr. Frank B. Perry and other town leaders decided that the town should install a central water supply housed in a reservoir tank and adjoining standpipe. The hill just east of town, partly owned by Mr. W.W. Burgess, was selected for the reservoir location, as that hill was 4-feet higher than “Gobblers Knob” situated just north of town. Burgess’ hill also had two natural springs which could be used to feed the reservoir which the water would then be pumped into the standpipe.

The steel standpipe plates were fabricated in a steel mill and then shipped to Orange by rail. Upon arrival, they were then loaded on horse drawn wagons and taken up East Main Street to the worksite were the large plates were joined with hot rivets by the Chattanooga Iron Works, under the direction of Gen. William Nalle. The lower plates measured about 12 to 14-inches thick and tapered to the top of the pipe. The pipe measured 20-ft in diameter and was 120-ft tall. It held 289,000 gallons of water. The standpipe was completed in December 1910. About 1961, a large number of animal carcasses were removed from the standpipe which then had no cover. A cover was installed the same year.

Mr. Baines may have been the town’s first municipal waterworks pump operator. The pump was initially powered by a wood fired steam boiler located south of the intersection of Main St. and South Madison St. By 1919, the waterworks had been upgraded to include one gas powered pump at the standpipe spring with a capacity of 60 gal. per minute and one gas powered pump in the pumping station with a capacity of 40 gal. per minute.

The town’s water supply system was all gravity fed, and totaled about 2½ miles long. It was equipped with 8-inch and 6-inch main lines with 38 two-way fire hydrants. The daily average consumption in downtown was 30,000 gal. About 1919, a pumping station was established on the Rapidan River near Spicer’s Mill Road, next to the Woodberry Forest laundry. A 4-inch line was run to Woodberry Forest School at no cost to the school, and an 8-inch line was run across E. A. Brizzolara’s property north of town. The line went across land owned by Mr. W. C. Boxley, then across the West Virginia Timber Co. (later Kentucky Flooring Co.) property, under the Southern Railroad, and up South Madison St. to the pipe.


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