Demolition of a Water Tank at Vermillion.
The old water tank at Vermillion, S. Dak., well known because, ever since the installation of waterworks in that city, it has been a prominent landmark, visible for miles around, has been torn down. Its instability was discovered some time since and has increased of late, until it was demolished following condemnation.
Concerning the tow’er and the tank, a correspondent of the Scientific American says:
It consisted of a tower 100 feet high with tank that held the city water supply.
The 6-in. pipe which carried the water from the wells below the hill was incased in a box of heavy planks. Surrounding this were twelve timbers, each 12 by 12, rising perpendicularly from as many abutments of stone to the tank above.
Outside of these were eight batter posts, each 10 by 12, bracing and strengthening it, connecting near the top with the inner pillars. These timbers were connected by a series of iron rods an inch in diameter at intervals of 10 ft. and, to give still greater stability, a similar rod leading from the center of the tower was securely fastened to a large cottonwood tree near by.
The tank itself was 16 ft. high and 20 ft. in diameter, with staves 12 in. wide and 3 in. thick surrounded by 13 3-in. iron hoops. When it was full the weight was enormous, and more than a year ago it was found to incline slightly from the perpendicular. This inclination increased gradually for several months, the legs assuming a decided curve, and was plainly a menace to life and property. The city condemned it, and the State fire marshal ordered it down, yet it stayed because no safe method for its destruction could be evolved. Finally, on May was found to incline slightly from the perpendicular. This inclination increased gradually for several months, the legs assuming a decided curve, and was plainly a menace to life and property. The city condemned it, and the State fire marshal ordered it down, yet it stayed because no safe method for its destruction could be evolved. Finally, on May 7th, a number of determined citizens met, and resolved in some way to destroy it. The iron rods were cut, and then an attempt was made to destroy the foundation with blasting powder, but without success. Great ropes, with block and tackle attachment, were fastened to the lower ends of the supporting pillars, and the great structure was slowly loosened from its foundation. The work lasted all day, the crowd of onlookers gradually increasing until at least a thousand people saw the final demolition.
The interest was intense; slowly the great timbers lifted, and the curve in the center became more pronounced. Then as the tower suddenly stretched itself in a splintered, broken mass of ruins, the great tank with its 150 tons of water, separated itself from its support, described an arc of a circle, and precipitated itself, a crushed mass, directly underneath the place where it had stood. The force of the water was terrific. The strong staves were snapped like pipe-stems; portions of the debris were thrown more than a hundred feet, and a 10-lb. stone was hurled through a building as far away. A barn near by was completely demolished, and one of the abutments, each of which weighed over a ton, was carried by the giant force a distance of 40 ft. The force of the water dug a hole 20 ft. across, and at least 4 ft. deep, where it reached the earth.