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Louisville Water Company (LWC)

Water Tower at Zorn Ave., Louisville Water Company Louisville Water Company began in 1860. The first pump station, now a national historic landmark on Zorn Avenue, initially served only 512 customers.

Prior to LWC’s incorporation, Louisville was known as the "graveyard of the West" because so many people died from waterborne illnesses such as typhoid and cholera. LWC pioneered research into filtration in the late 1800s to virtually eradicate these threats. Engineer George Warren Fuller conducted his landmark experiments at Louisville Water in 1896. The results led to the filtration systems that are used at water utilities around the world.

LWC’s beautiful Crescent Hill Reservoir Gatehouse, which is usually closed, was opened to the public for several months in 2010. The building, which was completed in 1879, was inspired by castles along the Rhine River in Germany.

Crescent Hill Reservoir Gatehouse, Louisville Water Company According to LWC, everything at the Crescent Hill gatehouse is original – that includes the manually operated valves that controlled the flow of water in and out of the reservoir and allowed sediment to naturally settle out of the Ohio River water. Now this is all done with computers.

In 1919, Louisville Water Company built the city’s first swimming pool directly across from the Crescent Hill Reservoir. Visitors could swim all day for a quarter. The pool was open until the 1950s.

As of 2010, Louisville Water Company serves nearly 800,000 people in the Metro and surrounding counties and has been recognized for its great tasting water.

Archival photo, courtesy of Louisville Water Company As part of its 150th anniversary celebration, a seven-month exhibit honoring Louisville Water Company’s history and accomplishments is opening at the Frazier International History Museum. The exhibit runs October 23 through March 27, 2011.

Etc.:

  • Louisville Water Company was incorporated by the Kentucky Legislature by charter in 1854.
  • According to "The Encyclopedia of Louisville", regular water delivery by LWC began on October 22, 1860.
  • The original pumping station and the classic water tower were designed by Theodore Scowden, chief engineer. The structures were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.
  • According to LWC, The original "Water Works" facility was a popular destination for picnics and events in the late 1800s/early 1900s.
  • The Crescent Hill Reservoir was about 14 times larger than the original Zorn Avenue pumping station. ("Louisville Encyclopedia").
  • In the early days of LWC, you applied for service and an "assessor" figured your bill. There were no water meters! You paid based on how many rooms were in your house – and if you owned livestock or a buggy.
  • The original pumping valves at the Crescent Hill Reservoir are not currently operational but they are still functional, even after more than 130 years.
  • During this 150th anniversary year, LWC is renovating the historic original Pumping Station and the Water Tower to closely resemble its appearance in 1860. Work is expected to be completed in the spring of 2011.
  • "Water Works: 150 Years of Louisville Water Company" – a commemorative book with photos and stories - was released in October 2010, through Butler Books.
Program 501
"Louisville Life" visits with hometown rockers My Morning Jacket, the Louisville Youth Orchestra, and the people behind Stone Soup Community Kitchen. (#501)