KETCHUM • It was perhaps fitting that the water pipes under Trail Creek Village sprung a leak over Wagon Days weekend.
When workers uncovered the offending pipe, they found an old 2-inch-diameter pipe constructed of redwood, bound with tar paper and cinched with spiral wire.
It looked a perfect match for the late 1800s Big Hitch ore wagons that paraded through the streets of Ketchum that weekend.
“I haven’t seen pipe like that in 25 years,” said Pat Cooley, utilities services representative for the city of Ketchum.
“On a rare occasions we do find a piece like that,” added Steve Hansen, Ketchum’s utility manager. “The last we found in service was probably back in the 1990s on Walnut Street. That was the city main line so we replaced it with modern plastic pipe. I’d estimate that the wooden pipe is gone from 99 percent of city property now.”
Redwood pipe was state of the art in the late 1800s when the first water systems were built in the then-fledgling city of Ketchum. The pipe was probably manufactured in Oregon and brought here by wagon or train, said Hansen.
The city replaced the wooden pipes with steel line and later plastic pipe as those technologies became available. But it didn’t touch private property such as that at Trail Creek Village, which sits on the south end of Ketchum across from the Kentwood Lodge on Main Street.
The property was developed as a two-story timber lodge in 1927. Chances are, the pipe was there when the hotel was built, said Cooley.
“As antique as this is, they’re lucky it lasted as long as it did,” said Dave Rambo, water division supervisor for the city of Ketchum.
The property is owned by Ketchum Developer Jack Bariteau, who recently got a year extension to build a 73-room luxury hotel on the site. Bariteau was given the green light to build Hotel Ketchum in 2008 but the project was delayed by the recession.
The pipe probably would have been dug up by now and replaced had the hotel been constructed, said Hansen.
The city of Ketchum bought the water system of the Ketchum Spring Water Company in 1986. But that didn’t include pipe on private property such as Trail Creek Village.
City workers gave those repairing the pipe a repair clamp, which was then enclosed in cement. But leaks sprouted in other places.
Time is of the essence with winter approaching and water pressure low for renters in the village. The renters will have no water if the pipe freezes before it’s replaced, said Rambo.
The owner is examining alternatives for dealing with the leaking water pipe, said the village’s property manager Tim Eagan.