Col. F.G. Ward Pumping Station, Buffalo - #4

Ray Vaughan

Hamburg, United States

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Artist's Description

View out through east-facing windows, Col. F.G. Ward Pumping Station in Buffalo, NY. The pumping station houses five Holly triple-expansion steam pumping engines, each rated at 1200 horsepower and capable of pumping 30 million gallons per day, that were built by the Holly Manufacturing Company of Buffalo. Installed in 1915, these steam pumps supplied municipal water to the city of Buffalo until the 1970s but have now been replaced by five electric-powered pumps that occupy a much smaller space in the same building. Water flows to the pumping station through a 6500-foot tunnel from the municipal intake, built ca. 1907 in the ‘Emerald Channel’ where Lake Erie flows into the Niagara River.

Although the five steam pumps are no longer in service, they are considered operable. The Industrial Heritage Committee of Buffalo has proposed that one or two of the five engines be restored to operation, at least on an occasional basis. See this website for historic and recent photos of the Col. F.G. Ward Pumping Station, and also for a link to a video of an operating triple-expansion steam pumping engine in England (Kempton Park, southwest of London). Such steam pumping engines were once common in the U.S., but few survive, and there are apparently none that operate. Four still exist at the River Station in Cincinnati; these are physically larger but not quite as powerful as the engines in Buffalo. Three Holly engines similar to the five in Buffalo were recently scrapped at Boston’s Low Service Pumping Station at Chestnut Hill Reservoir, while three other large steam pumps survive at the adjacent High Service Pumping Station (now the Waterworks Museum).

Photo taken 28 September 2013 during an Industrial Heritage Committee tour of the pumping station.

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