engineHistorical Background


Red Wing Waterworks Building
Building Built in 1884
Built of Rusticated Stone
Two-stories with flat roof

The Red Wing Waterworks provided its citizens a clean supply of water while supplying a ready source for the local fire department.  It is significant for listing in the National Register of Historic Places under criterion A representing the civic development of the city through its public works.  The Red Wing Waterworks, constructed 1883-84, is the earliest extant public works building constructed by the city water department.  The period of significance for the Red Wing Waterworks, 1884-1962, represents the span of years of continuous daily operations of the water department in this building. 

  In the early morning hours of March 4, 1883, a disastrous fire swept through the Diamond and the Red Wing Flour Mills.  Its aftershock, with the loss of jobs and capital, brought a swift reaction.  The Red Wing Advance stated:  “The millers and coopers are out of a job.  What greater calamity could happen to a city than the burning up of a large manufacturing establishment?  By the burning of the mills, the water supply for fighting fires in the business portion of the city is diminished one half, and by that much of the demand for water works increased.” 

  Within days, the city council passed a resolution to form a committee to “examine, devise and recommend the best plan for an efficient system of water works for the city.  The contract was awarded August 28, 1883, to the Northwestern Water and Gas Supply Company of Minneapolis, for the sum of $80,400.00. 

  The new water system was turned over to the city on May 20, 1885. The pump house was constructed on Levee Street, measuring forty by fifty-two feet, and divided into a pump room and a boiler room.  A brick coal shed adjoined the main building.  The plant used steam-powered pump to take water from the Mississippi River, passing through a fourteen-inch cast iron intake pipe to the main pump house.  There, the water was sent through two wells.  The first used screens tNRHP Evaluation Covero clear the water of large impurities (leaves, small fish) while the second had a sponge barrier to further filter it.  The water was then pumped into the street mains and to the main reservoir on Sorin Bluff.  This reservoir held around one million gallons in the holding area excavated into a rock bluff, then lined with brick in cement.  A series of water mains -- nearly seven miles worth --  distributed the water throughout the city.

  The building was abandoned and used for storage many years ago.  In 2011 Mike Wilson leased the building and is, in the process of converting the building into the Red Wing Marine Museum displaying Red Wing Thorobred Motors and CASA Cruiser historic items.

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