The Vidette-Messenger Centennial EditionThe 1936 special edition celebrating Porter County's centennial year . . . .

The following article has been transcribed from the August 18, 1936, issue of The Vidette-Messenger, published in Valparaiso, Indiana. This particular special edition focuses on Porter County's centennial celebration and contains a 94-page compendium of Porter County history up to that time.

Return to the index of articles from The Vidette-Messenger's Porter County Centennial special edition.

Source: The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; August 18, 1936; Volume 10, Section 4, Page 13.


O. P. Kinsey Headed Group of Men To Take Control In 1907; City Exercised Option In 1926

Valparaiso possesses one of the most efficient water pumpage and distributions systems in the state, brought up to a high state of production and performance in recent years. During the period of the worst drought in history, Valparaiso citizens were given ample water, while restrictions were imposed in other cities. An average of more than one million gallons per day is pumped, but the equipment is geared to produce 3,000,000 or more gallons should occasion require. Quality of water has been pronounced by state officials as exceptional.

The history of the local water department dates back to Feb. 16, 1885, when George P. Smith, Michael Walker and Don A Salyer obtained from the City of Valparaiso a franchise granting them the right to construct in the city a system of water works. A pumping station was built at Flint Lake and a distribution system installed in the city. The first water was delivered in December of that year.

On March 26, 1886, there was organized a corporation known as the Valparaiso City Water Works with DeForest L. Skinner as president, and Don A. Salyer as superintendant. On August 14, 1886, he corporation became the owner of the franchise and operated the water plant.

Under the terms of the franchise granted, the city at any time after the expiration of 15 years from the completion of the water works had the right to purchase the plant on an appraisal basis.

In April, 1886, the Holly pump was installed. This pump is still in use as an emergency unit. Captain A. A. Archer was the first engineer. He was succeeded in the fall of 1886 by John A. Cavanaugh, and Lyman Archer as assistant engineer.

Joseph F. Bradley, present chief engineer of the local plant, took over the post of assistant engineer in September, 1887, succeeding Mr. Archer. On January 3, 1896, Mr. Bradley became chief engineer.

On June 23, 1899, the city of Valparaiso, by the terms of the franchise granted Messrs. Smmithy, Walker and Salyer, determined to exercise its option to purchase the water plant under the franchise, but a controversy arose, and the water company refused to join in the appraisement of the plant and also refused to sell. The city then sought relief from the court.

The lower court tried the case, found the facts specially and concluded the law to be that the city under the franchise, had the right to have the plant appraised and the value fixed by the court and that on payment or tender of $86.706, the city was entitled to a conveyance of the water plant, free and clear of leins.

On August 7, 1907, the late Oliver Perry Kinsey, of Valparaiso university, at the unanimous call of the city authorities, submitted a proposal to the common council of Valparaiso for the purchase of the right or option which the city had to buy the water plant of the Valparaiso Water Company under the franchise secured by this company pursuant to a judgment of the Lake Circuit court entered on March 7, 1903, in the case of the City of Valparaiso versus the Valparaiso City Water Company.

The city accepted the proposal and Mr. Kinsey and his associated comprising S. C. Billings, vice president; M. J. Stinchfield, secretary; John W. Sieb, treasurer; S. L. Finney, director, assigned in the city the right or option to purchase the plant upon 60 days notice for the consideration of $100 as soon as the proceeds of the water plant paid the purchase price with interest and dividends. At the time the city approved Mr. Kinsey's proposal, a franchise was granted for a period of twenty-five years.

On August 24, 1903, Mr. Kinsey and his associates incorporated the Valparaiso Home Water Company, and the franchise was assigned to it. E. Leslie Loomis was named superintendent of the company.

In 1907, the filtration plant, comprising two units, was built by the Pittsburgh Filter Company. New and larger boilers were installed, and a coal spur track was built from the Valparaiso & Northern Railway.

In order to supplant the water supply in Flint Lake, a well was put down in 1911 by the late William J. Henry. No. 2 and No. 3 wells followed in 1911 and 1912. In 12913 the Canton-Hughes pumping unit was installed. This is still in use as the main pumping unit. In 1914 a coal conveyor was installed.

In order to obtain greater run-off into the lake the Listenberger water shed to the south, extending as far as Vale Park, was built in 1915 and 1916. In 1916 and 1917 the Spectacle lake water shed was brought in, and in 1924 the Loomis lake reservoir was built.

Upon the death of Mr. Loomis in 1925, S. C. Billings took over the superintendency. He served until 1926 when the city exercised its option during the regime of Mayor Edgarton W. Agar, and Mr. Agar served as first superintendent of the Water Department under city ownership. He was supplanted by A. C. Kamplain, who served until 1930, when he was relieved of his duties by Mayor Harold J. Schenck. George W. Euler, who had served as assistant superintendent from 1906 to 1929, was then in charge until the plant management was taken over by a board of trustees composed of Charles Ohlfest, F. W. Alpen and E. A. LaCount. Later Mr. Alpen resigned and was succeeded by William H. Hardesty.

In 1931 under the new board of trustees the filter plant was completely remodeled. In 1933 a new 18-inch well was put down. In 1935 a 3,000,000 gallon per day gasoline drive standby pumping unit was installed.

Just before the Schenck administration went out of office in December 1934, a new board of trustees was named by Mayor Harold J. Schenck. They comprised A. J. Fehrman, Dr. J. D. Keehn and Frank L. Faley. During the first year of the board a number of improvements were made to the distribution lines, including laying of new mains on Lincolnway. Mr. Faley died early this year and his place was taken by L. T. Ross.

The board is now engaged in laying a large amount of new pipe line, being aided by a PWA labor grant. A program of rehabilitation of the entire water works system is being planned following a survey made by Charles Brossman, Indianapolis consulting engineer. One of the first steps to be undertaken will be construction of a 500,000 gallon storage tank at the Grand Trunk and connecting line with the business district. Authorization of a $75,000 bond issue has been approved by the city council.

Article transcribed by Steven R. Shook


CSS Template by Rambling Soul