Builders Iron Works - Oakland, CA
Click pictures for closeups

Restored hydrants are from the Willis Lamm Collection.

This hydrant was in service in Alameda, CA from 1881 until 1996 when it was removed for a street widening.

The purpose of the knob on the top was to have a way to tie the fire horses. The steamer would hook up to a hydrant near the fire and the driver would remove the horses to a hydrant at a safe location down the street.

Photo & Info: © 2000, Willis Lamm



This hydrant was in service in Oakland, CA from the 1880s until 2000 when it was removed during a water main replacement.

The plug on top was for a "street washer." Street washers were common in neighborhoods where houses didn't have indoor plumbing. The street washer was a large hose bibb with a weighted handle where residents could fill buckets for household use and for their livestock. (See top view, image 0631b.)

(Hydrants in city parks were often painted green.)

Photo & Info: © 2000, Willis Lamm.

At the turn of the century as fire departments turned to mechanized fire apparatus, horse ball hydrants became symbolic of obsolescence. The Oakland Fire Chief, for example, sent his crews out to ceremoneously cut the balls off of all of Oakland's hydrants to show the world that they were fully mechanizied.

For those communities that now wanted "ball-less" hydrants some of the makers such as Builders Iron Works filled the ball cavities of their molds with sand and produced what we call "bump heads."

This hydrant saw service from about 1912 until 2000.

Photo & Info: © 2001, Willis Lamm


Back to Hydrant Pictures
Questions? / Comments?
Unless otherwise noted, all contents of these WWW pages ©