The Arie Den Boer Arboretum, Dale Maffitt Reservoir, Denman Woods . . . have you ever wondered about the history behind the names? Namesakes of property and facilities owned by Des Moines Water Works include former general managers, Board of Trustees members, and employees whose strategic visions helped the water utility evolve into the industry leader it is today.
Charles Sing Denman’s 37-year career began in 1896 when the water company was privately owned. He was the first general manager, appointed in 1919, when the water company became municipally owned. During his tenure, the water system experienced tremendous growth and many of the facilities in use today were constructed under his direction. As a testament to his love of nature, the western tract of land that extends along both sides of the Raccoon River in Water Works Park was designated as Denman Woods. A concrete bench was erected in his memory in 1937 inside the Fleur Drive treatment plant, which was moved to its current location at Water Works Park in the late 1970s when the Charles Sing Denman Memorial Garden was dedicated.
In 1928, Arie den Boer, a horticulturist, was hired to beautify Water Works’ grounds and create a park, which was opened to the public in 1933. Mr. den Boer introduced several hundred varieties of crabapple trees and won numerous prestigious awards for his work in horticulture. The crabapple arboretum was named in Mr. den Boer’s honor when he retired in 1961, after serving as grounds superintendent for 33 years.
The water tower at 48th and Hickman is a memorial to Allen Hazen who designed the tower and unexpectedly died in 1930 before construction was completed. Mr. Hazen was a prominent New York engineer of international reputation and a pioneer in the area of water treatment.
Dale L. Maffitt was the general manager when 650 acres southwest of Des Moines were purchased in 1942 to construct a dam and water storage reservoir to be used as an emergency water supply. The 200-acre impounding reservoir and surrounding area was named for Mr. Maffitt after his death in 1955, following 41 years of employment, 22 of which he led the utility as general manager.
Henry Nollen and Norman Wilchinski were long-term Board of Trustees members, both of whom served on the first water board of 1919. Two water storage facilities built in 1955 were named after them. The Nollen Standpipe is at 26th and Hull and the Wilchinski Standpipe is at SE 9th and Pleasantview Drive.
The Tenny Standpipe at Merle Hay Mall, which was built in 1959, is a tribute to Morris K. Tenny. A 44-year employee, Mr. Tenny held the positions of chemist and assistant manager, prior to serving as general manager for 13 years. He was instrumental in the growth of the Water Works.
Maurice King’s employment with the Water Works spanned nearly 43 years. The Maurice A. King Intake and Pumping Station facility on the Des Moines River was named after Mr. King who served as General Manager from 1968-1977.
The L.P. Moon Storage and Pumping Station facility was named in recognition of a former long-term Board member, Louise P. Moon. Located in Clive, this west side facility was placed on-line in 1996. Ms. Moon currently serves as Windsor Heights’ representative on the Central Iowa Regional Drinking Water Commission, of which Des Moines Water Works is a member.
In May of 2000, the Water Treatment Plant at Maffitt Reservoir, a 25 million gallon per day facility, began operation using nine radial collector wells for its main water source, but also drawing from Maffitt Reservoir for additional water resources. In 2007, it was renamed in honor of L.D. McMullen, a 30-year employee who served as general manager from 1985-2007 and was instrumental in construction of the water treatment plant.
We are proud of these visionaries and their contributions to Des Moines Water Works and the community.