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History of Licking water towers


Archive Photo
The ‘Baseball’ Water Tower 
under construction in June 1962.
By Christy Porter
Managing Editor

The first tower to service the City of Licking with water was built in 1939 near the school and is commonly referred to as the “School” tower. The Licking News archives dated Jan. 6, 1939, states, “…Contractors on drilling the deep well for Licking waterworks, is now on the ground and drilling will start as soon as it can be set up.” May 26, 1939, The Licking News reported, “Licking Deep Well Fully Approved, with no definite starting date for laying the distribution system and construction of a storage tank can be given as yet…” then “…completion date as set by P.W.A. as Sept 1,” in archive dated June 16, 1939. An Aug. 4, 1939, updated progress, “The steel derrick and tank for the city has been shipped to Rolla and is being trucked here this week and erection of this will no doubt start soon.” And finally a Nov. 17, 1939, publication brings this initial water tower to completion with, “Water Works Project Ready for (Final) Inspection, and the storage tank filled to capacity.” This original tower is 80-years-old and holds 50,000-gallons of water. This tower is no longer in use.
In order to bring industry and jobs to Licking, a May 20, 1948, archive states, “…that a factory is interested in locating here providing a suitable building can be furnished them. One citizen and businessman, has offered ground either within or without the city limits, has offered to drill a well if it becomes necessary and has pledged a nice sum towards the erection of the proposed building.” And so the second water tower located near Cedar Street, commonly known as the “Plaza” tower, was part of this new construction. Its only purpose was to supply potable water to the factory, as well as water for the sprinkler system located within the factory. The “Plaza” tower holds 100,000-gallons of water.
The iconic “Baseball” tower, the third Licking tower, is located on Hwy. 32 E. and Hwy. C; it also holds 100,000-gallons of water. Like the “Plaza” tower, its purpose was solely to supply potable water and sprinkler system water to the new Rawlings facility, which opened in 1962. According to a July 28, 1960, article in The Licking News, building this new factory would ensure the Rawlings Co., a sporting goods manufacturer, would continue their operations in Licking. The factory was being built to manufacture Rawlings baseballs, so the water tower to supply the factory was originally painted with a baseball on its 25 feet high circular dome in July 1962. The completed tower stands 103 feet high. In 1994 a fundraiser was initiated, with Reggia Ward as chairperson, to repaint the tower as it was originally, with the baseball theme.
From the archives, city well drilling, city water system improvements and waterline projects were taking place in 1993 through 1994.
The fourth tower by the South Central Correctional Center on West Hwy. 32 was built in 2000. This tower holds 750,000-gallons of water; 400,000-gallons a day are used by SCCC. Due to the aging of the “School” tower and the bad luck with the city wells, it was decided to plan the tower with the additional 350,000-gallon capacity for city use as necessary. Some have said it too is a landmark, with the greeting, “Welcome to Licking” painted on the east side of the tower facing Hwy. 63.

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