Last weekend, I decided to hie on out to the Waterworks Museum in Chestnut Hill, outside of Boston. I didn’t expect much: just how interesting could water pumps be? Actually, the pumps at the museum don’t run anymore, so you don’t even get to watch things move. But I figured I should visit it so I can say I’ve been there. Anyway, it’s a nice enough looking building in the late 19th century sorta Gothic style:
So, I enter, leave a donation, and walk through the doors, and…WHAM! It was like walking into a beautiful cathedral. These machines, even stilled, have power (although when they ran they were so well-made that they were virtually silent). In an era where everything is designed to be compact and fluid, the sheer size of the pumps is amazing. One understands how, pre-World War I, people were so optimistic about technology, and how the image of the factory was so triumphant (whether a capitalist or a Marxist). It really was one of the best ‘accidental’ museum visits I’ve ever made.
(Note: Tomorrow, I’ll blog about the role the Chestnut Hill station played in water safety microbiology).
But enough talk, let’s have some pictures. Here’s one of the first things you see upon entering:
To give you some idea of just how big these pumps are:
Here’s what I meant by cathedral:
They’ve even kept the original tools:
That’s a big wrench! More tools:
Here’s the Worthington Snow Pumping Engine, made in Buffalo, NY (not sure what it did, but probably good to have):
And here’s the info:
Of course, we need gauges (which are about two feet in diameter):
The workmanship is amazing–for insulation and to prevent ‘sweating’, the machines were covered in polished walnut:
The above picture could only be taken through glass, but if you look carefully, you’ll see that the flat surfaces are covered with a checkered pattern. Again, the attention to detail is amazing, and indicates a certain awe and respect. But no true factory setting would be complete without some big ass pulleys and chains:
Finally, some second story (about 30 feet up actually) shots that might give you some indication of the size. In the first picture, the bright green dot in the middle is a person:
The Acknowledgments section:
Definitely worth visiting. Tomorrow, I’ll talk about the importance of the Chestnut Hill Biological Laboratory.