Written by John Pierce - Chariton: The Early Years - July 28, 1992
Chariton residents longed for city water from the first franchise election in 1896 until water became a reality in March of 1907.
At the final franchise election on June 11, 1906 an apparent first in Chariton history occurred. Women were allowed to vote. Of the 871 people voting, 207 were women. Carriages were run by the ladies to bring other ladies to vote.
Digging on the water system started quickly. A digging machine could cover two blocks a day but was limited to the street. The narrow alleys had to be dug by hand where only one-half block a day was dug.
Water for the waterworks system was to come from a huge well. This well was sixteen feet in diameter and thirty feet deep. The well was located at the corner of 15th Street and Armory Avenue.
An attempt was made to secure water from the big reservoir just built in 1905 by the railroad on the west edge of Chariton. The railroad declined to let Chariton use the water.
The Chariton water tower was filled March 14, 1907. The 150 foot structure contained 100,000 gallons of water and is still in use today.
The first use of the water system for a fire occurred in April of 1907. Two frame buildings on the east side of the square adjoining the alley to the south caught fire. Four Eddy fire hydrants installed at the corners of the square proved to be very valuable. A hose was run from the southeast corner of the square with water on the fire before the fire engine could reach the scene.