By Lynn Norris, Kinsale Museum Director
Cople District Volunteer Fire Department has been talking with Potomac Supply for the past several weeks about saving the historic “leaning tank of Kinsale” water tower.
“It’s an important piece of our town’s history,” summed up Fire Chief Tommy Lewis, who sees the tank as a welcome-to-Kinsale reference point.
A sudden leap of insight on the part of fireman Donald King – why not straighten up the tank, put a new liner inside, and put it back to work in earnest?
His fellow firemen agreed, and asked, where better than at the firehouse, downhill from Aqua Virginia’s Kinsale tank, so it is easier to fill?
Not only will Potomac and Cople District VFD save a peripatetic piece of history, they’ll be putting it to good use to save lives, uniting nostalgia with practicality – something CDVFD has been famous for ever since its launch 63 years ago.
The wooden tank (which originally held 20,000 gallons) started out its career of service in about the year 1900 at Sandy Point when Mr. Brooks launched his subdivision Villa Sites on the Potomac River. In about 1950, it was moved to Potomac Supply after an artesian well began supplying Sandy Point residents. In the late 1970s, Potomac installed a much larger system, setting aside 50,000 gallons for the firemen of the Northern Neck to fill their trucks.
Now the old tank is headed for its third home: Kinsale Firehouse. The firemen are also moving the 60-foot tall steel support tower, offering a gravity-fed quick fill-up.
They will provide the labor to take the tank apart board by board, (removing the ample supply of old bird guano), strengthen the wooden structure, install a 10,000-gallon liner tank, and put it to good use to save lives here in town.
The 10,000 additional gallons will more than double the water loaded in three firetrucks, and improve the speed of after-hours fill-ups because Chief Tommy Lewis will not have to unlock the gates at Potomac, where maneuvering the trucks for fill-up can mean a round-trip of 15 minutes or more.