1910 photo of Louisville Water vehicles uncovered

1910 photo of Louisville Water vehicles uncovered
November 30, 2018

By Jay Ferguson, Louisville Water Museum Specialist

In our internal newsletter, I encouraged employees and retirees to contact me if they had photos or other memorabilia that would help tell the story of Louisville Water’s history. We’ve received several responses. It’s been great to see these new-to-us photos and to learn more from and about our retirees.

Mary Hubler, a 1997 retiree with 20 years of service, contacted me about the photo at right. Years ago, an employee—she can’t remember his name—had several old photos that he handed out to Mary and other women in the company. Luckily Mary held on to the photograph, hoping to one day get give it back.

It’s quite a fantastic photograph, taken around 1910, of four electric vehicles once owned by Louisville Water. The vehicles are parked side-by-side along the south wall of the Third Street offices, which were built in 1910. The two-man crews are ready to begin a day’s work. Stored on the sides of the wagon beds of the early customer service trucks are a box key for valves, a curb stop key and posthole cleaners for the key tubes.

It is not known how long these vehicles were in use. What is known is that electric vehicles were briefly made by Kentucky Wagon, under the Urban Electric Vehicle brand. In Louisville Water’s archives there is a letter from Kentucky Wagon dated 1912 giving prices for the Model–20 electric wagons, stating Louisville Water already owns the Model-10 wagons. It does not appear that any of the Model-20s were purchased.

Mary worked her entire career in customer service. She spent most of her time taking phone calls on the third floor at the old offices, sometimes working at the front desk. She enjoyed her time here, especially talking with and getting to meet new people. Her father, John Gribbons, also worked for Louisville Water, mostly as a laborer and later as a plumber’s helper. He began at the Third street offices then moved to Allmond Avenue, always taking the bus to work.

When asked if he helped her get her job, Mary quickly said "no." Company policy was not to hire relatives even though it was not uncommon for cousins to work here. It took her nearly a year to finally be hired.

She would regularly come into the office to ask if there was any news about the job. Mary laughed when she said she thinks John Blackerby finally hired her to stop her from coming in asking about the job.

Thanks to Mary for keeping this wonderful photo safe for all these years and for making sure it found its way back to us.