Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Concrete Arches from 1910

Former water filtration plant in Owen Sound, Ontario

Last weekend in an Open Doors tour in my local town of Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada, I discovered what few people even know exists: the abandoned water filtration plant. It was built in 1910 of poured concrete and you can still see the wood grain on the boards that were used to form the graceful arch structure which makes up two 'rooms' each 160' X 80'. Water from the Sydenham River was let into the chambers where it was filtered through a two-foot depth of sand, then through a 12" pipe six miles to the small town. A crew of 400 took two years to build the filter system.

Every couple of months the sand had to be removed and washed, then put back in the rooms through round holes in the roof. The entire structure was buried in earth and grass grown on the top. Over 2,000,000 gallons of water a day was treated by the system.

The filtration system has been closed since the 1960's and due to vandalism is only open to the public on special occasions. You can still walk over the grass on top of the structure and peek in one locked gate by following a trail in the Inglis Falls Conservation area. Owen Sound and Shallow Lake were early centres for Portland cement production from the 1880's.


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