Drainage of Swampy and Wet Lands for Burial Purposes

Date Published: 
August, 1893
Original Author: 
H. J. Diering
Original Publication: 
AACS Proceedings of the 7th Annual Convention

In most cemeteries of large acreage, some unavailable land is found, such as swamps and wet clay land, and the question often arises what to do with such land. 

There are but two ways to treat or improve such land either use it for lake purposes or make it available for burial by a system of deep drainage. If the land should be practicable for a lake and expense no object, certainly a fine outlined lake with a clear sheet of silvery water, and surroundings handsomely ornamented with trees and shrubs, would be a great ornament to a cemetery, provided sufficient supply of fresh water is available to feed such lake, thereby keeping the water at all times pure and fresh; but should there be an insufficient supply of fresh water to feed a lake, it would be folly to undertake such an improvement, especially in the event of a dry season, as the result would be to show nothing but a stagnant frog pond.

When the latter condition prevails, it would be decidedly preferable to drain such land and make it useful for burials.

The writer speaks of his own experience on drainage, having made swamps and wet clay land perfectly dry from seven to nine feet deep by a system of drainage. In constructing a system of drainage great care should be taken to locate the main or outlet drains at its proper place so that branch or lateral drains can empty into it.

The main drain should have pipe amply large enough to be able to carry the water from the laterals freely at all seasons.

As to the quality of pipe to use, I should recommend the salt glazed vitrified sewer pipe of two-foot lengths, in preference to the agricultural drain tile. The former being very hard and smooth will not decay and resists a large amount of pressure.

The drainage capabilities will be through the joints of each pipe, by having the pipe laid loose in their collars.

In constructing the ditch for the pipe it is very important that the bottom should be made on a perfectly even grade, especially where there is a long distance to drain and but very little fall to be had, say four inches in one hundred feet. If the bottom of the ditch should be found soft and springy in some places, it is advisable to dig such parts below grade and refill with gravel, so that the pipe may rest firmly and not be liable to settle. In laying pipe for main drain insert every thirty feet Y branches for lateral connections; do not use T branches.

When the pipe is properly laid, cover it with three or four inches of small broken stone or coarse clean gravel to keep the joints open. Cover the stone with a layer of sod, grass side down. This is to prevent the earth, when filling up the ditch, coming directly in contact with the stone covering, thereby keeping the joints of the pipe at all times open, and the water has free entrance into it.
In filling up the ditch the earth should be rammed hard to the surface, so that hereafter no settlement will occur.

I have located such main drains under roads and put four feet thick Telford macadam over it.

In the course of draining, should there be found strata of sticky blue clay, these strata should be noted and broken up by trenching, so that the surface water can pass freely down to the drain.

It must be kept in mind that deep drainage should be made perfect, so that roads, foundations for monuments can be built over them, and graves dug without injury to the system.

From the publication:
AACS - Proceedings of the 7th Annual Convention
Minneapolis, MN
August 22, 23 and 24, 1893