October 14, 2015 - Today, Mayor Tom Henry joined members of the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers and Fort Wayne City Utilities for a 150th Birthday Party. The guest of honor was the City's first brick sewer built 150 years ago in 1865, the end of the Civil War.
As part of today's birthday celebration, a cake displaying a brick sewer was cut as a fun way to commemorate an important milestone in Fort Wayne sewer history.
Coincidentally, this year also happens to be the 150th anniversary of the oldest continuous labor union in the United States, the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers.
Utility officials still marvel at the craftsmanship that went into building the round, brick sewers, which went into service in Fort Wayne in 1865. Located under Harrison Street, this 54-inch diameter sewer structure stretches from Berry Street to Superior Street and continues to serve our community.
“It’s important for us to recognize history and appreciate the craftsmanship that’s displayed in the City of Fort Wayne,” said Mayor Henry. “We’re fortunate to be part of a community with individuals committed to doing their very best each day in their selected professions. By working together, we’re experiencing positive momentum in our City as we move forward in the right direction as an attractive place for residents, businesses, and visitors.”
Records are not clear on the construction company that installed the City's first brick sewer, but because the transportation system was in its early stages at the time, it's believed that a kiln was set up near the site to make the bricks to be used for construction of the sewer. Information provided by the History Center shows five brick companies active in the City in 1865, including J.W. Koehler, the Fort Wayne Brick and Tile Company, William Miller, William M. Moellering and William H.F. Moellering.
Fort Wayne installed more than a mile of brick sewer in 1865, an amazing feat when you consider how labor-intensive the process was. The sewers are sturdy, with a double-ring of bricks for support and have been in service with today’s heavy loads on our City streets. The bricks were connected with mortar, built in the ground at a uniform slope and with a quality that has withstood the test of time. According to documents from the History Center, the Pennsylvania Railroad also built a brick sewer that year. Portions of it are still in use in an area near where the City’s main post office sits today.
Today, there are more than 80,000 bricklayers in the United States and more than 200 in Fort Wayne. Besides sewers, their work can be seen on some of our City’s brick streets and on buildings and homes around the community.
Fort Wayne has more than 15 miles of brick sewers still in use today. Most of them were built between 1865 and 1900.