Oral Histories from Publications

“Oral Histories” and Stories Documented in Publications, Reports, and Websites:

Building the Historic Cahaba Pumping Station  (Source: https://www.bwwb.org/conferencecenter):   A small settlement called New Merkel [now Cahaba Heights] on the Cahaba River became the site of a new pumping station for the Birmingham Water Works Company in 1887. The Cahaba Pumping Station was to pump water to the reservoir on Shades Mountain for distribution throughout the city.  Constructing the station proved to be a tremendous feat of engineering and labor. Materials had to be transported from Birmingham across Red Mountain by an old railroad line [the Birmingham Mineral Railroad and unloaded in English Village]. From Red Mountain, crude oxen-driven wagons hauled pipe, lumber, heavy machinery and supplies to the site across eight miles of trail no wider than a cow-path. Impeded by thickets and boulders, the journey from Birmingham took three backbreaking days.

The Club  (Source: Historic American Engineering Record, Report No. AL-45, Page 9):  [These are mining stories, but the location was right next to the Red Gap Branch of the BMRR and was served by that branch, so they are included here.]  After the Valley View mine permanently closed in 1924, the abandoned mine flooded, and The Club (when it was built) used the 64-degree water from the mine in air conditioning the clubhouse.  Also, when building The Club in 1951 (completion date), the location of the building was changed twice to adjust for the mine workings.  In addition, forty support pilings for the foundation had to be driven through mine tunnels and into the bedrock beneath.