Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday Stills: Water Towers or Grain Silos

We don't exactly have water towers here in my ghost town (or grain silos, either), a place that is ultimately all about cool, clear water--but I hope you'll enjoy this brief history of our water storage through the colorized photos I took today. It's 106 degrees today and I'm drinking lots of water!

The river water is so clear, you can see to the bottom of a 20 foot swimming hole.

In 1868 pioneers dug a ditch (otherwise known as an acequia) eight miles long, diverting water from the river to irrigate 800 acres of farm land. They originally named the town "The Ditch" which prevailed until a post office was opened about seven years later, when it was named after the river: Rio Frio.

The ditch ran for over 100 years. Now it is dry, but locals whose property it crosses must pay the state a water use right. Go figure.

Many of us living on the original plots have hand dug pioneer wells. This is one of my favorites--with a classic wishing well look--since it still has the wood to throw a bucket over. They are all about 40-50 feet deep, through solid limestone, sized just wide enough for a man to swing a pick axe.

Most of the houses built in the 1800's had spring houses. You could say these were private water towers, but also refrigerators. The water was stored on top, and a room was built below where food was kept. The soil is too rocky here for building a cellar, and the water is much cooler than the ground.

Old timers remember playing in them as children, because it was the coolest place around in the days before electricity and air conditioning came to the canyon.

Some folks still use windmills to pump their water. It's a beautiful way to harness the wind. I wish we had one.

This is our well house, with an electric submersible pump. (There's a better photo on this previous post showing the beautiful door). The pioneer hand dug well is behind it, covered with a large iron trap door secured with large rocks and a tangle of vines for good measure. The well service company told me if I liked the way my water tasted, I should never look in the well, as I would likely see hundreds of crickets or the occasional unfortunate squirrel.

Of course, I had to look. It's about a 4 x 4 foot hole through 40 feet of solid rock terminating in a little cavern where the water flows through it. Just like a river.

To see photos of water towers and silos, visit the other photographers at Sunday Stills.

10 comments:

Holly said...

very neat story

VioletSky said...

The story of the spring house is very interesting. I really like the windmill - the shot and the idea of it.

Paula said...

This is a wonderful post. I so enjoyed my visit around your farm and the history of the area's water supply. We lived in Wyoming for quite a few years and their are old ditches around that landowners still pay the rights on also. Silly!

Ed said...

Nice story and quick history lesson..:-)

Ann said...

So my city is not the only one without a water tower.

You did a lot of work "digging" into the history of your water supply, and "refrigerator" Aren't your old people creative?

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Very creative post. Thanks for sharing.

~Lisa

thecrazysheeplady said...

The text with the first picture almost makes it seem like you are walking on water ;-). Very nice.

Kelly said...

Very cool perspective on yesterday's challenge!

Nola @ the Alamo said...

I had to go back and look at that first photo again. I totally missed that you were standing in water the first time! Clear, clean water is a beautiful thing!

Welcome To Wilmoth Farms said...

Really beautiful photos!

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