On January 9, 1885, an official proposition was submitted to Rapid City officials by the Rapid City Water Company to create the city’s first water system. The company also owned several springs four miles southwest of Rapid City.
Before the official proposal was submitted, the company had already constructed a dam which diverted the water into one half mile of wooden, “frost-proof” flumes. The official proposition included building over 20,000 feet of water pipelines and 25 hydrants “to be supplied with not less than two fire plugs for hose attachments, with pressure sufficient to supply not less than 1,000 gallons of water per minute.”
The first water pipelines in Rapid City were wooden, and wrapped in cable which allowed for a pressurized line. Of course, the lines still had their flaws, and suffered from leaks from the springs to the reservoir, which caused months long construction delays. Items including Fuller’s earth and flour from the local mill were tried as potential sealants. In order to fix the leakages, experts drove wooden wedges under the metal rods that held the pipes together, which resulted in a more tightly sealed line.
Read more about Rapid City’s first water system on the Black Hills Knowledge Network Digital Archives under Rapid City History: Black Hills, South Dakota.