QUINCY HILL WATER TANK DISASTER: Scientific American article
The following article appeared in the June 5, 1909, issue of Scientific American magazine.
THE BURSTING OF A WATER TANK AND ITS EFFECT.
Two water tanks, each of one million gallons capacity, recently burst at Parkersburg, W.Va,, within twenty seconds to one minute of each other, according to different observers. The tanks were about eleven feet apart, and it is probable that the bursting of the second was caused by the flying parts of the first. Although the two tanks held but two million gallons, nearly half the sidewalks of the town were flooded over an area of one-half mile wide and three-quarters of a mile long, the water between curbings reaching a depth of twelve to fourteen inches.
The tanks were sixty-five feet in diameter and forty feet in height, and were erected twenty-four years ago. The bottoms were made of 3/8-inch plates, laid on a bed of mortar with a course of stone masonry about two feet wide around the circumference. The walls of the tanks were composed of ten course plates, each 4 feet wide and varying in thickness from 3/4 inch at the bottom of the tank to 3/16 inch at the top. An examination made after the accident seems to prove that the walls of both tanks parted in nearly straight lines, perpendicular to their bottoms, and at points beginning a few feet from the base and extending more than half way to the top.
Of the effect of the bursting of the tanks and the rush of water, some idea may be gathered from the accompanying illustrations. A 45-foot iron ladder, which had been fastened to the side of one tank, was wrapped around the trunk of a tree. One of our pictures shows a wrecked house, which was actually occupied at the time of the accident. The collapsed tanks themselves after the accident looked very much like deflated balloons.
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