Sneak peek of the 'Quiet Giant'

Sneak peek of the 'Quiet Giant'
October 3, 2019

Today, Louisville Water offered a sneak peek of the reopening of Pumping Station No. 3 at Louisville Water Tower Park. On display in the station is the “Quiet Giant,” the 100-foot-tall steam engine from 1919. The reopening also commemorates the 100th anniversary of the opening of Pumping Station No. 3 and the operation of this Allis Chalmers steam pumping engine. The public will get their chance to see the station on Sunday, October 6 from 1 to 5 p.m.

Regina Stivers, Deputy Secretary of the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, praised Louisville Water for preserving historic buildings like this.

“Louisville Water’s historic buildings are community landmarks, and we are very grateful for their stewardship of these important structures,” said Stivers. “The Crescent Hill Reservoir and Gatehouse and 1860 Water Tower, and now Pumping Station No. 3, give residents and visitors visual histories of important eras in Louisville’s timeline.”

Stivers pointed out that historic preservation is key to tourism dollars and a driving force for Kentucky’s economy. Kentucky tourism generated more than $15 billion in 2017 and is the third largest industry in the state. Additionally, Kentucky has more National Register of Historic Places sites than 46 other states—and all 120 Kentucky counties have at least one historic site.

“Corporate citizens like Louisville Water are important to our state economy and tourism industry,” said Stivers. “We thank you for preserving a tangible part of our past to be enjoyed today and for future generations.”

Tim Graviss of JRA Architects spoke about the planning and execution of the two-year renovation.

“We did nearly four years of design, planning and investigation of how to do this project and how to do it correctly so we could preserve it not only for our generation but for generations to come,” said Graviss.

Some of the challenges they faced were working on the river and in the river to do some of the repairs and renovations. They also encountered four separate flood events during the course of this renovation.

Some of the highlights of the renovation of Pumping Station No. 3 include:

  • The Allis Chalmers steam engine was completely stripped and repainted.
  • All windows were replaced with historically correct window units.
  • The only two original window/door assemblies were restored.
  • Original cast-iron transoms that had been covered up were discovered and restored to original condition.
  • Original copper cornice was repaired.
  • Historically accurate slate roofing was installed.
  • Interior original plaster finish on walls was repaired and repainted.
  • Terra cotta tile was restored to its original finish on all window openings and arched passageways.

Historical signage and educational placards were added to enhance visitors’ tour experience of the building. In addition, visitors can watch a film from 1938 of the Quiet Giant operating.

Also on Sunday’s event, the Maker Mobile, a maker space on wheels, will be on hand showing visitors how to make and fly air-pressure propelled ‘water tower’ rockets, plus much more.

Admission of $5 includes a visit to the WaterWorks Museum, also located at Louisville Water Tower Park. The museum brings to life Louisville Water’s history and tells the story of how water gets to customers’ taps.

After the October 6 event, tours of the facility are available for schools, community groups and the public. To make a reservation, call 502.897.1481 or visit and click Water Tower Park.