Archive for Sunday, June 1, 2008

Lansing water, before and after

June 1, 2008

Running water in our homes is a precious gift. The average house today uses an average of 183 gallons a day. The majority of people in Lansing before 1940 did not have running water. Many had sinks with an outdoor drain, but the water came from a nearby well or cistern. For those of us that remember this, water was carried by buckets into the house either from their own well or a neighbor's well.

The water lines came from Leavenworth in 1940. These lines were dug by WPA workers. From 1940 to 1950, many septic tanks were installed as people added a bathroom to their houses. Most homes did not have room for a bathroom so had to borrow space from an existing bedroom or closet, and mostly only room for a shower, stool, hot water heater and sink. It was wonderful to have that "outhouse" come indoors. Natural gas was available at that time, but many people still used propane

It was a terrific job for plumbers at that time. I learned how to install the cast-iron soil pipe drain. Oakum, a brown rope treated to be used in the hub of the soil pipe. It had to be pounded in each joint with special tools, then you had to melt the lead and pour into each joint to hold the seal. A soil pipe stack to draw in air had to be vented through the roof also had to be installed.

It is so much easier now with the use of PVC pipes.

Like anything else, plumbing was a constant learning process. Galvanized pipe for hot and cold water was used for many years before copper came along.

Bill Johnson was a plumber at the VA and on the weekends installed bathrooms for many a Lansing home, ours included. Delaware Township installed a lagoon sewer system near Seven Mile Creek north of the Prison around 1955 or 1956. That is when we switched from a septic tank to the new sewer system. That land was leveled and is now being used for our sports fields.

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