GENESEO – When you take a scoop of one of Western New York’s most historic villages, you are bound to find relics of generations past sleeping just below the surface. In this case, contractors with Nardozzi Paving discovered a section of wooden water pipe which brought water to Main Street from Temple Hill 170 years ago.
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According to the Livingston County Historical Society, the 10-inch pipes were laid in 1845 when General James S. Wadsworth expanded his family’s water system, connecting springs on Temple Hill to agricultural fields known as ‘the flats.’
“There used to be a spring on Temple Hill, and the wooden pipes brought water down Center Street to the bear fountain,” said Bruce Godsave, a docent at the Livingston County Museum. “The whole thing was nothing more than hollowed-out logs connected together. They really worked when they were full of water, because they swelled up, they were watertight.”
Godsave added that though the pipes are an amazing part of Geneseo’s history, it is unlikely that the new specimen will go to the museum.
“We have this specimen here, and we only have so much space for storage,” said Godsave.
It is known that there are other pieces of wooden pipes floating around in the community. There is a short piece of wooden pipe in the possession of the Village of Geneseo at 119 Main Street.
Godsave added that the pipes have not been in use for many, many years, possibly as many as 100 years, and there are very likely more sections still hidden under Main Street.
The section of pipe on display at the museum was discovered in the summer of 1997 during a construction project on Center Street.
The museum is open on Thursdays and Sundays from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
This is not the first treasure that this year’s Main Street project has uncovered. In June, Nardozzi carefully worked around a tunnel extending from 5 Main Street to the Genesee River that was at one time used to smuggle slaves into Geneseo as part of the Underground Railroad.