The year of 1889 was a bad year for Rock Rapids business as three fires swept through the business district destroying two banks and various other business establishments. There were no water works, no organized fire-fighting equipment, and a lack of man power. All of these factors contributed to the fact that the fires could not be contained. The situation created enough public interest so that a vote was held in the spring of 1890, and it was decided that a waterworks system should be installed. A pumphouse was built with 250,000 gallon pumps along with boilers, and a distribution system with a standpipe 8 feet by 100 feet high to maintain pressure. Rates were to be $5.00 per year, per residence, $8.00 to $10.00 per year for stores, and $3.00 per year for sleeping rooms in the pumphouse.

The site of the pumphouse was at the end of North Boone Street where the old building was recently demolished.

But we have had some light spread on the story in a letter received from Gene Hasse of Sierra Vista, Arizona. He wrote to comment on the Smoky Row story in the March issue of the newsletter. He wrote that he thinks it should be ”Smoky Road.” He remembers the old pumphouse located on the north end of Boone Street.  He wrote, "Since coal was used to fire a steam engine to run the pumps, there was a good bit of smoke, and since the chimney wasn't that tall and if the weather conditions were right, the smoke hung on the ground, hence "Smoky Road."

Gene wrote: “My father bought the old Stewart house on North Boone Street in the mid 40’s and fixed it up. I think the main attraction was the huge garage that was on the property which my dad wanted for his work as carpenter. The old pumphouse was there for years, and some of my paper-route customers lived in the apartments that were made in it when it was remodeled.”

Gene Hasse
Sierra Vista, AZ


Provided by Evelyn Halverson
Transcribed by Roseanna Zehner


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