GALLIPOLIS — The old stone towers near Haskins Park have more history to tell than meets the eye.
They were originally constructed in 1892 to provide water service to the Ohio Hospital for Epileptics.
Mary Lee Marchi, former Historical Society President, said: “They were put into use for the first time in 1899 as a result of a feud between the State and the City of Gallipolis.”
Initially, the city agreed to provide free water to the hospital, not accounting for the amount of water they would need. The dispute came when the city wanted to put meters on the hospital water lines, in the hopes of charging for the excessive water use. In response to this, the water towers were constructed by the state facility.
According to the historical marker “These three stone water towers were erected by local craftsman.”
They were constructed out of local uncoursed sandstone from the surrounding hills. Uncoursed stone is taken directly from the quarry with little shaping or cutting, giving the towers their rough, unfinished exterior. The towers were in service to the hospital until 1950, and were later restored in 1981 as monuments. John Gee, of Gallipolis fame, is rumored to have played a part in the construction as well.
Marchi also explained some of the technical aspects of the water supply system at the institution. They were each drilled 240 feet down, and all three were capable of producing 20,000 gallons of water an hour. Air pumps moved the water to a cistern at the power house, which held 50,000 gallons of water. A reservoir on top of the hill held 800,000 gallons of water for use at the hospital.
This facility was started during the American Civil War as a Union hospital, which served both Union and Confederate soldiers at the end of the war. The facility is currently the Gallipolis Developmental Center, and is one of 10 state run residential care facilities for individuals with developmental needs.
Reach Morgan McKinniss at 740-446-2342 ext 2108.