Strange Markings on the Curbstone

On those quiet walks you take through our special neighborhood, here is a curiosity that you can search out. Back during the first half of the 20th century, the City Water Department used a special marking system to make their repair work easier. When a section of the “Carter Addition” (our neighborhood) would be developed and water / sewer lines laid to our homes, city workers would inscribe symbols on the freshly formed concrete curbs.

These symbols told them the direction of the water and sewer lines that connected each home with the appropriate pipes underground in the street. A letter “W” signified your water pipe direction from house to street, and a cross or “X” would show the direction of the sewer pipe as it left your property. Not all symbols were in front of each house.

In order to get good drainage, the sewer line might leave your house and angle through your neighbor’s yard on its way to the center of the street Basically though, if your curb is of the old, original concrete texture and shape, you should be able to locate these markings. It goes without saying that if you have replaced your yard pipes, then the direction the new ones take might be different from the original cast iron pipes. Water meters are also located in some strange places.

If you have trouble locating some of these early signs, then look at the curbing at 1200 Southwest Avenue and 502 West Maple Street. Then you will know what the markings look like. By the way, we have a few examples of early streets that still exist. Boyd Street between West Walnut and West Maple is a great example. We hope they will never have an asphalt topping. Happy looking.

Posted on June 6th, 2008 by Ken Harrison in History

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