Calgary

Century-old cedar water pipe unearthed in 17th Avenue overhaul

In the ongoing construction along 17th Avenue S.W. in Calgary, construction workers stumbled across quite the historic find this week. A water pipe made of wood and it was in great condition.

'We did expect to find some old and interesting stuff once we started,' engineer said

During some Beltline road construction, Calgary workers unearthed a piece of cedar water pipe believed to be about 100 years old. It still had some water in it, and the water was clear. (@yyctransport/Twitter)

In the ongoing construction along 17th Avenue S.W. in Calgary, construction workers stumbled across quite the historic find this week.

A century-old water pipe made of wood — and it was still in great condition.

"We did expect to find some old and interesting stuff once we started," Logan Tolsma told The Homestretch on Thursday.

"This particular section of wooden pipe we found in between Centre Street and First Street S.W. It was underneath the existing pipe that was in use and in service," Tolsma said.

And it gets better, says the senior transportation engineer and project manager.

(City of Calgary)

"It is rare to find pipe in such good condition. When they unearthed it, it actually had water in it and it was still actually quite clear which is extremely rare as well."

Tolsma says wooden pipes were common about a century ago.

"These pipes were used in Calgary pre-1910 and they started to decommission them in the mid-1900s. This particular stretch of roadway had the water lines replaced about 100 years ago, give or take, and so this will be the second replacement in as many years," Tolsma explained.

"The pipes are cedar pipes wrapped in a steel wire. When they get wet and filled with water they swell, so that creates the seal. They put tar around the outside in order to help preserve and age the pipe."

Cedar water pipes aren't the only find in this construction process.

"We have found wooden rail ties, as well as rail spikes from the old trolley system that used to run up 17th Avenue," Tolsma said. "We have found quite a few of those."

"We have heard rumours of potentially finding old coal chutes, that was the old distribution system. They used to dump coal into a chute that would run the coal into business or home basements along the avenue."

The city is currently looking at preserving and displaying this little piece of Calgary history.


With files from The Homestretch

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