Trees Once Used as Water Pipes Recently Found in Wichita Kansas

KAKE News - June 17, 2024 5:58 am

Downtown Wichita, an old wooden water pipe from over a century ago found still mostly intact.(KAKE)

WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) – A local plumber recently made a rare discovery while at a job in downtown Wichita after he found an old wooden water pipe from over a century ago still mostly intact.

“They were digging up to tap the main and when they were down there digging, they ran into this old wood pipe,” said Chris Jessup with The Tap of Kansas.
Jessup has spent his career around all things plumbing, but at a recent job on Emporia St downtown, one of his contractors found something that he had never seen before.
“This pipe here would be considered like an eight-inch pipe. It’s just made out of a straight tree barrel that’s been shaped, cut, and hollowed out,” Jessup explained
Jessup says, believe it or not, the city used to use trees as water pipes.
“I was shocked that it was still in this good of shape with the time it’s been,” he said.

City leaders say there are no longer any wood pipes in any of the city-owned water infrastructure, but the city says it does not have records or blueprints for water lines at private properties from that long ago.

So it begs the question, how do you know if your water is still flowing through a nasty, old, and rotten pipe from over a century ago?
“There really won’t be a way to know. I mean, unless you have a break, and you have to go in and repair and then you dig it up and actually find it. But other than that, I mean, there’s just really no way to know if it’s still in use,” Jessup explained.
Jessup says by now these old pipes are usually totally rotted away or get destroyed by heavy machinery during new construction, so he’s working with Wichita State University’s Anthropology Department to make sure it gets safely preserved.
“We’re just gonna keep it on display here just so people can see and understand. It’s like, this is what our water system was, and this is the technology today,” said Jessup.

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