Cincinnati Water Works

Home to four of the World’s Largest
Triple Expansion, Crank and Flywheel, Water Pumping Steam Engines

Greater Cincinnati Water Works, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
(World Class Industrial Archaeology)

I had the opportunity to tour the Cincinnati Water Works pumping station at California, Ohio.   It was something more than I expected.  The four old 110′ tall, R.D.Wood Triple Expansion Steam driven pumping engines are something of a marvel.  The story and presentation that was given was an amazing story of engineering trial and error, ending with these magnificent motors and pumping system being fabricated and put into service in 1906.  It ran until 1963, when it was replaced by higher efficiency electric motors and pumps, but it still stands tall today and is now being preserved as a museum piece.

There was a short presentation video and Q&A at the beginning followed by a walking tour which ended up with a visit to the bottom of the facility, where the bases of the motors begin their 110′ rise and are topped off by a rather interesting service crane which pivots on the center riser in order to access all four motors.

One of the curators at the museum is a retired engineer and volunteers his time to educate and guide tours of the facility.  He also authors an impressive website with an immense amount of detail on the facility as well as the history of water supply in Cincinnati and the other area facilities that work in coordination with the main facility.  You can see his website here.

I took a lot of photos there today.  It’s a great place for photographers.  Some are interpretive, others are just for fun or reference.  Either way, it was a lot of fun.  I saw a lot of abstract and Escheresque style interpretations there.  I hope you like them.