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Marietta Replacing 91 Year Old Water Tap on Fourth

February 1, 2017
By Brett Wharff
If you missed the news then you may not know that the 300 block of Fourth Street will be closed today and Thursday for a little water work.  
I saw the press release in my email so I called the Marietta Water Department for a little info so we could talk about it on the news and let everyone know what was going on.  We inform the public but also do our best to reduce frustration when it comes down to road work in town.  
I was on the phone with Jeff Kephart.  He is the Superintendent for the Marietta Water Department.  I was just thinking that this was going to be a standard news story.  "It'll take about 4 hours to fix."  "The road closes at 8am."  "The part has been there since 1926."  "Shouldn't take too...."  WOAH WOAH, WHAT?  1926?  
I'm a sucker for history and if I want to know something about it, it's normally easy to figure out everything I need to know with the internet and through all of the kind folks around town that have the knowledge I seek.  
So 1926 huh?  91 years ago that thing was installed under the bricks at the corner of Fourth and Putnam.  Back when you could buy a brand new vehicle for less than six hundred bucks, a house for less than ten grand,  back when Marilyn Monroe and Tony Bennett were born, Calvin Coolidge was sitting in the Oval Office and The American Association of University Professors called college football a moral menace.  Speaking of college football, in 1926, the Buckeyes lost to Michigan by one point  IN COLUMBUS ruining their chances for a perfect season. 
But what was going on here locally?  Obviously there was some road work being done at 4th an Putnam to install that service tap for the new Betsey Mills Club location.  As most of you probably already know the Betsey Mills was a couple of houses before construction started and turned it into the building we see today.  When did that construction start?  The answer is 1926.  We can only assume that the water tap that was installed the same year was for the larger structure that we can see every day on 4th street.
The Mayor of Marietta was John W. Gray and in 1926 he was trying to remove Rollo G. Putnam from his Chief of Police position which just created a big billowing pot of drama.  Not sure if Mayor Gray and Mr. Putnam had beef with one another but Gray tried to get him out of the Chief of Police position but Mr. Mayor made a few mistakes and then it turned into Gray vs State and everything was eventually overruled by the courts.  It's actually an extremely fascinating story.  Check it out by clicking here.  
The Claire E....  You know?  The sternwheeler that sat across the Muskingum River from the WP Snyder Jr. for all those years?  Yep, built in 1926.  Heck the WP Snyder Jr. was only eight years old when that tap was put under road at 4th and Putnam.  
The Becky Thatcher... You guess it, 1926.  She was actually named the Mississippi III when she was built.   Then was retired and docked in the 60's.  It was renamed the Becky Thatcher in 1965 when it was moved to St. Louis.  In 1975, citizens of Marietta bought the boat.  It sank after a huge storm in 1984 then raised up and renovated in 1985.  Then in 2009 it was sold and drug up the river to Pittsburgh where it sank again in 2010 and it was a total loss after that.  Poor Becky.  
This could go on and on and on and all of this research that I did today was all because Jeff Kephart told me there was a 91 year old tap under the bricks on fourth!  It's the little things I guess.  Infact, Kephart even told me that tap isn't even the oldest one still in operation in Marietta.  , 
The road is already closed and expect it to be open in the early afternoon tomorrow afternoon.  Jeff Kephart also says boiling your drinking water for one to two minutes is very important after the water service is restored.  

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