By Barbara Howe
Did you know Morgantown residents once got much of their water from the Tibbs Run Reservoir, which filled the area now surrounded by the Reservoir Loop Trail? Are you aware of the purpose of the tower that you can see from that trail? Or what type of building sat on the foundation near the tower? Have you seen what looks like a broken-down fence in the basin near the foundation during a drought? Or wondered why there was a dam along what’s now the Forest Trail?
Come learn the answers to these questions and much more as we celebrate the centennial of the Tibbs Run Reservoir at 1-3 p.m. Saturday, May 19 at the Botanic Garden. The celebration will be free and open to the public. A brief formal program at 1:30 p.m. will spotlight the area’s history. Then you can enjoy refreshments and walk around the Reservoir Loop Trail to see new interpretive signs that explain the importance of Morgantown’s early public water supply, the construction of this reservoir and its operation and the story of the reservoir after it closed in 1969. This trail is 0.72 miles long and is accessible to anyone from the lower parking lot.
Family members of Ralph Lemley, the long-time reservoir caretaker, will share stories about him during the program and at the site of the Lemley home at the Eclectic Garden. We could not have completed this project without their assistance! We also want to thank the Morgantown Utility Board for their support and Joshua Coit, who is organizing installation of the distinctive signs as his Eagle Scout project. Barb Howe and Mike Caplinger have collaborated with Erin and Dave Smaldone, George Longenecker, Linda Bagby, Jon Weems and Emory Kemp to put this project together.
At a later time the WVBG will provide more information about the reservoir’s history on our web site at www.wvbg.org and will publish a small pamphlet with historical information about Morgantown’s water supply. That pamphlet will be available on May 19th.
This project is being presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Humanities Council, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations do not necessarily represent those of the West Virginia Humanities Council or of the National Endowment for the Humanities.