Frankfort Ave. Construction Project Leads to Historic Find

You could say Louisville Water crews ran into a little bit of a “roadblock” in the Frankfort Avenue Main Replacement Project. Check out what is believed to be a check valve dating all the way back to the early 1870s!

This cast-iron piece is seven feet tall by seven feet wide and weighs close to 15,000 pounds. Louisville Water Site Inspector Tony Gathof discovered the valve during a routine pipe inspection in late 2021. Crews removed it in early May to make room for a new water main.

What is a Check Valve?

When it comes to moving water, check valves act like a stoplight. The valves are buried underground and attached to the pipe. A check valve is designed to allow water to only flow through it in one direction.


To learn more about this particular valve, we sought a history lesson of sorts from former Louisville Water President & CEO John L. Huber. Huber suspects the check valve was installed during the construction of Central State Hospital on LaGrange Road in East Louisville, just outside Anchorage. Kentucky state officials funded a project for Louisville Water to extend water main lines to a standpipe near the mental health facility.

The Crescent Hill water storage tank was built tall enough to effectively move water to higher elevation levels around Central State. Noting the size and design of the check valve, Huber says “the lattice work inside the valve allowed it to support higher water pressure with a lighter flapper.” The flapper opens and closes to control when water flows through it. After the Westport Road pump station was built, the Crescent Hill tank was no longer needed and taken out of service. It was torn down in the 1980s.

More on Frankfort Ave. Work and Improvements

A 60-inch water main recently installed in the middle of Frankfort Avenue provides additional supply lines and more flexibility to move and reroute water to customers. Currently in Phase II of the project, crews will place a 42-inch water main beneath the railroad crossing at Frankfort and Reservoir Avenues.

A process called sliplining will be used to insert the new main into the existing main. Louisville Water is on schedule to finish the work along Frankfort Avenue, later this fall.