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The Florence Water Tower: A Beacon of Innovation and Quality
In the late 1800s, the city of Florence, Alabama was experiencing a period of growth and prosperity, driven by the Industrial Boom. And as the city grew, so did its need for clean, reliable water. That's when a group of enterprising businessmen came together to form the Florence Water Works, with the goal of providing the finest water supply in the entire South.
Led by Colonel W.A. Jeter, the company spared no expense in building what would become one of the most impressive water plants of its time. At a cost of $200,000, the Florence Water Works boasted 17 miles of piping and 103 fire-plugs, all powered by a towering stone structure that loomed over the city skyline.
Made using the best stone masonry, the water tower was 70 feet tall had a wrought-iron tank with the capacity to hold 300,000 gallons of water. The plant could have easily supplied a city of 50,000 people even though Florence’s current population was only near 7,000 people. Many of Florence’s citizens during the late 1890s had abandoned perfectly good cisterns and wells in favor of using the water tower’s hydrant water because it was healthier.
But it wasn't just the impressive scale of the water plant that set it apart. The key selling point was the source of the water itself. Rather than drawing from the often-muddy Tennessee River, the Florence Water Works tapped into the clear, pure waters of Cypress Creek, a pristine stream that runs through the surrounding countryside.
Thanks to the natural filtration provided by Cypress Creek, the water that flowed from the Florence Water Tower was hailed as some of the healthiest and most refreshing in the region. Physicians of the time proclaimed it to be "as good as Nature's laboratory could furnish for thirsty man."
And while the water itself was impressive, it was the dedication and hard work of the water plant's superintendent, T.A. Howell, that truly set the Florence Water Tower apart. Howell was known for his tireless efforts to keep the water mains clear and clean, and his willingness to provide any amount of water needed to fight fires in the city.
For decades, the Florence Water Tower stood as a symbol of innovation and quality, supplying the city with clean, reliable water and serving as a beacon of progress for the entire region. The water tower was replaced by the adjoining standpipe in 1935. Though it was eventually replaced by newer, more modern innovations, the legacy of the Florence Water Tower lives on to this day as a testament to the power of innovation and dedication in shaping our communities.
Drive by and visit the tower today on Seymore Avenue.
Florence Water Tower and Pumping Station, circa 1895
Florence Water Tower and adjoining standpipe, circa 1980s