Cahaba Pump Station
The Cahaba Pump Station, built in 1887-1890, is a working pump station owned by the Birmingham Water Works. The station is located on the banks of the Cahaba River at the former site of New Town at 4012 Sicard Hollow Road. The works consists of a control room building, boiler house, and two pump houses which draw water from the river and pump it, along the path of Pipe Line Road through Cahaba Heights, to the reservoirs at the Shades Mountain Filter Plant.
The original facility was designed by Elyton Land Company engineer Willis Milner for a capacity of 5 million gallons per day. Construction at the remote site began in 1887 and cost a half million dollars over the next three years. Another engineer, William Merkel, took charge of construction and superintended its operation afterward. The community of Merkel, named for him, grew up around the station to house workers.
A 1998 renovation and addition designed by KHAFRA engineers won a Preservation Award from the Birmingham Historical Society. Currently the station also functions as a museum with examples of early tools and equipment and a collection of historical photographs. The facility is also available as a meeting and conference space for business and civic groups of up to 100.
In 2009 the Water Works purchased 23 acres adjoining the station from Fleming Branch LLC in a deal that protects 50 additional acres bought by Alex Jones from high-density development.
- Bryant, Joseph D. (October 23, 2009) "Birmingham Water Works buying land near major pump station." The Birmingham News
- "How Local Communities Got Their Names" (1st Quarter 2014) The Jefferson Journal
- Cahaba Museum page at bwwsb.com
- Cahaba Pump Station postcard & photo - archive of the original at Postcard Birmingham