|Introduction||Historical Background||Chronology||Geography||Biography||Technology||Ownership and Financing||General Bibliography|
||District of Columbia||Washington|
Washington was founded in 1790 when the District of Columbia was formed. The City of Washington was a a separate municipality until absorbed by the District of Columbia in 1871.
The first water system in Washington was built in 1802 and distributed water from a spring on C street in Square 490 to Woodward's Tavern and several houses. In 1808, the Washington City Council authorized inhabitants of squares 460 and 461 to convey water from C street to the Pennsylvania avenue, and later that year the city authorized an appropriation of $600 "for the erection of pumps and sinking of wells and conveyance of water in pipes." A fountain in John Marshall Park commemorates this City Spring, as shown in the following pictures. This system served several hotels and buildings in the area for many years, with the general area shown on this 1887 map.
Several other small water system were built in the city and iron pipes were first used in 1824.
Congress first appropriated funds in 1819 to purchase a spring and supply water to the President's house, but this was not completed until 1833 when water from Franklin Square (Square 249) was delivered to the White House, as shown in the maps below:
|"Want the Spigot Opened," The Evening Times,
April 25, 1896, Page 2.
|A complete set of surveys and plats of properties in the city of Washington, District of Columbia, 1887, Plate 11.|
This water may have been used in the White House as late as 1904, according to newspaper reports. A "double forcing pump" was installed in 1838 to supply "the kitchen, pantry, baths, and water-closets, with fine, pure water." This was likely a hand pump, but in 1849 it was thought necessary "that the laundry, kitchen, and scullery should be supplied with water by proper and permanent fixtures" supplied by an elevated tank filled with a force pump, which was probably a Worthington and Baker Direct-Acting Steam Pump that had been patented on April 3, 1849. This may have been the wooden tank on the roof that was replaced with an iron tank in 1889. In May, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln personally helped to repair the Worthington engine, aided by Union Army Captain Benjamin Silliman Church and recounted in a 1921 article. Church had been employed by the Croton Aqueduct Department before the war and later served as Chief Engineer of the Croton Aqueduct. Despite Franklin Square being the source of drinking water for the White House, troops were quartered there during the Civil War (including Captain Church's unit), which may have been the source of the supposed typhoid contamination of the water supply that led to the death of Lincoln's son Willie on February 20, 1862. In addition to the Franklin Spring water, Potomac water had also been introduced into the basement of the President's House in 1859 and extended into the living quarters in the spring of 1861, where "marble-topped washstands with fancy-pained porcelain sinks had been installed in all the rooms but the library."
Water was also delivered to the U.S. Capitol building in 1833 from Smith Springs, which is now the site of McMillan Reservoir. Water from this spring (a branch of Tiber Creek) was extended to the White House by 1850, primarily for fire protection. This 1887 map shows the location of the spring (then located inside the reservoir) and the pipe to the Capitol.
The need for a better water supply was recognized by Washington's mayor William Winston Seaton, whose 1849 annual address recommended "bringing the water of the Potomac from the Great Falls into the city." The City of Washington Common Council petitioned Congress to provide $1,500 to fund a study, but after this was voted down the requested sum was reduced to $500 and included in the appropriations bill for 1851. The council voted to provided an additional $1,000. The subsequent study was undertaken by Colonel George W. Hughes of the Topographical Engineers, and while this was underway President Millard Fillmore included a call for a better water supply in his December 1850 address to Congress. Hughes' 1851 report recommended taking water from Rock Creek, which began a debate that was accelerated after a December 1851 fire destroyed the Library of Congress, burning 35,000 books, thousands of manuscripts, paintings by Gilbert Stuart and John Trumbell and others. The fire, and the inability to control its ravages, brought to a head the obvious and long recognized but ignored need for a good source of water for the city. Congress included $5,000 in the 1853 appropriations for a more through study, which was originally assigned to Captain Frederic W. Smith but after his untimely death the assignment was given to Engineer Lieutenant Montgomery C. Meigs. His 1853 report recommended taking water from the Great Falls of the Potomac, and this recommendation was accepted by President Fillmore and forwarded to Congress, which included $100,000 in the 1854 appropriations bill. Meigs was assigned the task of building the aqueduct, which he undertook with great vigor.
Overcoming numerous obstacles, water from this system first reached the District on January 3, 1859 and was piped into the White House, Capitol, and Navy Yard by October of that year. It was designed to deliver 68 million gallons per day (MGD), which was increased to 100 MGD in the 1930s. A second parallel aqueduct was brought into service in 1926 that could deliver 120 MGD to the capital.
|Maps of the Washington Aqueduct, to accompany supplemental report of Chief Engineer dated Feb. 22nd 1864.|
A Worthington water pressure engine powered by aqueduct water pumped water to the Georgetown high-service reservoir starting in November, 1859. The engine was located in the west abutment of the Pennsylvania Avenue bridge over Rock Creek and ran until 1876 when it was worn out and replaced with a Knowles steam engine.
The aqueduct over the Cabin John Bridge was completed on November 3, 1863, eliminating the temporary piping connection. This main span of this bridge was the longest single-span masonry arch in the world until 1903.
Meigs had recognized that unfiltered river water would not be suitable for drinking or cooking, but found existing large-scale filtering technology to be unsuitable and therefore recommended that individual consumers install filters. Filtering of the entire water supply was finally accomplished in 1905,
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers owns and operates the Washington Aqueduct, which supplies wholesale water service to the District of Columbia; Arlington County, Virginia; and the Fairfax County Water Authority in Virginia.
Washington is currently supplied with water by the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority, which has a good history page.
1798 Letter from George Washington to Benjamin Stoddert, 26 September 1798
"I think it is by no means chimerical to say, that the water of the Potomac may, and will be brought from above the Great Falls into the Federal City, which would, in future, afford an ample supply for this Object."
Intelligencer, September 11, 1801, Page 2.
Public Sale, to be sold on Saturday the 10th of October next if not sold before by private sale, That valuable property, Lot No. 4, in square 490, with the appurtenances thereon; this propert is well known through the United States by the overflowing wells thereon. Terms made known on the day of the sale by the subscriber. William Clark, Washington City, Sept. 10, 1801.
National Intelligencer and Washington Advertiser, July 24,1805,
"PENNSYLVANIA HOUSE AND MYER'S CITY TAVERN" The subscriber respectfully acquaints his friends and the public in general that he has removed from his old tavern stand, to the adjoining house on the Pennsylvania Avenue, lately occupied by Mrs. Wilson as a boarding house, and Mr. Woodward's Tavern in which he is now opening a complete hotel. This stand is probably not excelled by any in the city, either for the accommodation of travelers or boarders; being at a convenient and almost equal distance from the Capitol, the President's house,and public offices; near the Theatre, Messrs. Way's Printing Office, and Centre Market, opposite the office of the National Intelligencer, and adjoining Mr. Duane's book store. These houses contain lodging rooms with fireplaces, exclusive of dining, bar, assembly, and coffee rooms, servants, apartments, etc. The celebrated ridge spring is conveyed in pipes to the yard of this hotel, where it supplies the whole neighborhood with flowing cool water, to which the general health of this part of the city has in a great measure been attributed. The stabling of the hotel now erected is considerable; more however will be completed before the meeting of Congress.
I now beg leave to inform my friends with confidence, that my prices will be as heretofore, corresponding with Pennsylvania tavern rates, and in proportion as my elbow room has increased my disposition to please shall be enlarged: I, therefore, respectfully hope the continuance of a share of public patronage.
Solomon Myer, Washington, July 24, Independence, the 30th year
of the Corporation of the City of Washington Passed by the Seventh
Page 8: An act authorizing the conveyance of water from C street west, to Pennsylvania avenue. Be it enacted by the first and second chambers of the city council of Washington, that the inhabitants of squares numbered four hundred and sixty and four hundred and sixty-one, have permission to convey water from C street west, to the Pennsylvania avenue, and to continue the same on said avenue as far as their funds will enable them. Approved, September 22d, 1808.
Page 26: An act for the erection of pumps and sinking of wells and for conveying water in pipes on the Pennsylvania avenue. Sec. 1. Be it enacted by the first and second chambers of the city council of Washington, That the sum of six hundred dollars be, and the same is hereby appropriated for the erection of pumps and sinking of wells and conveyance of water in pipes, and that each ward shall have an equal proportion of the said appropriation.
Sec. 2. And be it enacted, That the mayor be empowered to establish such regulations respecting the erection of pumps and sinking of wells and conveying of water as aforesaid, and to require such previous individual contributions as he may see fit, not being less than one half the said expense.
Sec. 3. And be it enacted, That the sum of two hundred dollars be, and the same is hereby appropriated, for the repairs of pumps in the city of Washington, and that the provisions contained in this act be carried into effect under the direction of the mayor. Approved, December 31, 1808.
1809 Acts of the Corporation of the City of
Washington Passed by the Eighth Council
Page 3: An act making appropriations for opening and improving streets and avenues, and for other purposes. Approved, August 4, 1809. Sec 2. And be it enacted, That the Mayor be authorized to appoint three inhabitants of the neighborhood of that part of Pennsylvania avenue which lays between 9th and 14th streets west, who, when appointed, are hereby authorized to convey water from the spring commonly called Caffery's spring (or from any other spring which may be more convenient) to Pennsylvania avenue, and to continue the same on said avenue as far as the funds hereinafter provided for will enable them.
1812 Acts of the Corporation of the City of
Washington Passed by the Tenth Council
Page 8: Chap. 5: An act to provide for the sinking of wells, and erecting of pumps, conveying of water in pipes and fixing of hydrants, for the improvement of springs and for other purposes. Approved, August 5, 1812.
1819 Report Of the Committee on the Public Buildings, accompanying "A Bill making appropriations for the Public Buildings, for the purchase of a Lot of Land, and furnishing a supply of Water for the use of certain Pubic Buildings." January 7, 1819, 15th Congress, 2d Session, H. Rpt. 77, from Congressional Edition, Volume 20
1819 Chap. LXXXIV. An
act making appropriations for the public buildings, for the purchase of
a lot of land, and furnishing a supply of water for the use of certain
public buildings, March 3, 1819, from The Public Statutes at Large of the United
States of America from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to
March 3,1845 by Authority of Congress, Volume 3
For purchasing a lot of land, and for constructing pipes, for supplying the executive offices and President's house with water, nine thousand one hundred and twenty-five dollars.
on Public Buildings, 16th Congress, 1st Session, H. Rpt. 484,
February 16, 1820. American State Papers, Class X,
Volume II, 1834.
∂ 9. Purchasing a lot of land, and furnishing a supply of water for certain public buildings, (those on and adjacent to the President's square.) By the act of the 3d of March, 1819, the appropriation for this object was $9,125. The high price asked by the owner of the lot, and other circumstances, prevented the expenditure of the money, and, as heretofore stated, it was transferred to another purpose. It is now replaced, and the committee believe the object too important to be yet relinquished. Although they are not satisfied that the sum will be sufficient, they do not think it necessary to recommend its increase.
1820 Laws Passed by the Seventeenth Council of
the City of Washington
Page 33-34: Chap. 42. An act making appropriations for ascertaining the source of springs on north K street. Be it enacted by the board of aldermen and board of common council of the city of Washington, That the sum of twenty-five dollars be, and the same is hereby appropriated, to be paid out of the funds of the first ward, and the further sum of one hundred and twenty-five dollars be, and the same is hereby appropriated, for the purpose of ascertaining whether a fountain may not be found on north K street, the source of which may be sufficiently high for the conveyance of water therefrom to the populous parts of said wards, to be expanded under the direction of two members to be appointed from each board by the city council, in conjunction with the Mayor. Approved, April 1st, 1820.
1820 Laws Passed by the Eighteenth Council of
the City of Washington
Page 40-41: Chap. 44. An act concerning the springs of water near the junction of K street north and Thirteenth street west. Be it enacted by the board of aldermen and board of common council of the city of Washington, That the Mayor be authorized, in conjunction with the joint committee of the two boards, appointed on the seventeenth of June last, to have made such further improvements at the springs near the junction of K street north and Thirteenth street west, and to make such further experiments in either of the said streets as may be deemed necessary; and to cause to be built one or more suitable reservoirs, capable of containing the whole body of water furnished by said springs, the expenses thereof to be charged to the account of the second ward. Approved, August 5th, 1820
1821 Laws Passed by the Nineteenth Council of
the City of Washington
Pages 105-106: Chap. 129. An act making appropriations for conveying the water from the springs at the junction of K street north and Thirteenth street west, and for other purposes. Be it enacted by the board of aldermen and board of common council of the city of Washington, That for conveying the water from the springs at the junction of K street north and Thirteenth street west, down said Thirteenth street to F street north, a sum not exceeding five hundred dollars be, and is hereby appropriated. Approved April 14th, 1821.
National Calendar, and Annals of the United States. Volume 2,
by Peter Force.
Page 215: Improvements in 1820. City of Washington. A Spring, discharging about forty gallons of water a minutes, has, at an expense of two thousand dollars, been prepared to supply a part of the city with water.
from Colonel Alexander Macomb, Chief Engineer, to Hon. J. C. Calhoun,
Sec of War. June 14, 1822. National Archives, Record Group 77,
Miscellaneous letters sent by the Chief of Engineers, 1812-1869, 1:297,
Sir, I have the honor to acquaint you that Major Roberdeau is very competent to direct the manner in which the Conduit at the President's house should be constructed. He is absent at present, but will be ready tomorrow to make the proper examination and to project the plan. Regards, Alex. Macomb
1822 "Proposals for Cast Iron Pipes," Daily National Intelligencer, September 6, 1822, Page 1.
of the Commissioner of Public Buildings, by Joseph Elgar, December
10, 1822. 17th Congress, 2d Session, H.
Page 5: Of the expenditure on the President's house, much of the greater part has been upon the culvert-drain. The old drain was taken up--a deep cut made to obtain a regular descent from the house to, and under, the road which passes south of the wall; a new culvert was then constructed, of the best materials and workmanship, and of sufficient capacity to admit being explored, with a view to keeping it clear.
1823 Columbian Star,
March 1, 1823, Page 2.
In the Second Ward. Cast iron pipes, for conveying water from K street spring will soon be laid down.
from the President of the United States transmitting an account of the
disbursement of the sums appropriates by the acts of 30th April, 1818
and 3d March, 1819, for improving the President's Square, &c.
April 20, 1824. 18th
Congress, 1st Session, H. Rpt. 137.
Page 5: I have the honor to state, that the proprietor of the lot of land, proposed to be purchased, by demanding what was considered a most exorbitant price, prevented the act, first above mentioned, from being carried into effect, and no disbursements took place under it.
Passed by the Twenty-Second Council of the City of Washington
Pages 12-13: Chap. 8. An act relative to the supplying of water in pipes, and repealing the act of October eleventh, eighteen hundred and twenty-three. That the Mayor be authorized to have the water conveyed in iron or wooden pipes from any part of the stream issuing from the spring on North K streets, within the limits of the second ward...." Approved, July 16, 1824.
1825 Columbian Star,
January 22, 1825, Page 2.
In the years 1823 and 1824, 1700 feet of iron pipes have been laid.
Passed by the Twenty-Fourth Council of the City of Washington
Page 16: Chap. 26. An Act authorizing the Mayor to make an experiment to test the utility of Stoneware Pipes. The sum of thirty dollars is appropriated to authorized the mayor to engage Samuel R. Bakewell to make, or cause to be made, ten feet of Stoneware Conduit Pipes, and cause the same to be attached to the iron pipes now in use in the second ward, in order to test the utility of such pipes as a means of conducting water underground; and the amount hereby appropriated, be paid out of the general fund. Approved July 28th 1826 R. C. Weightman, Mayor
of the Select Committee on Public Buildings. February 4,
1829. From 20th
Congress, 2nd Session, H. Rpt. 69.
[Recommends purchasing square 249, later named Franklin Square, and installing iron pipes to deliver water to the President's House and Treasury. Also recommends purchasing springs northwest of the Capitol and delivering water to that building.]
1829 Chap. 212. An
act making appropriations for the public buildings, and other purposes,
March 3, 1829
For the purchase and enclosure of the square numbered two hundred and forty-nine, on the plan of the city, eight thousand dollars.
report of the commissioners of the public buildings to congress,
Washington, Jan 1st, 1830. from Niles
Register 38:95 (March 27, 1830)
Purchase of square 249 $1,246.94
1830 Water for the
Capitol, February 2, 1830, 21st Congress, 1st Session, H. Rpt. 145.
Letter from George Camaron upon the subject of furnishing a supply of water for the use of the Capitol.
Intelligencer, March 3, 1830, Page 2.
Hydraulic Works. Messrs. Editors -- I am happy to hear, that a plan for water the City has recently been offered to Congress by Mr. George Camaron, a very ingeneous mechanic of this place.
He proposes to collect into a reservoir at the foot of the hill near the Capitol, all the pure spring water which can well be obtained, and an additional quantity from the canal, by means of a trench extending from the canal to a reservoir placed by the side of the other reservoir, the water to be raised by means of steam into reservoirs above, sufficiently elevated to be distributed to any part of the City or Navy Yard.
It is suggested, that reservoirs capable of containing many thousand gallons can be placed upon the top of the Capitol walls; that can be so formed and placed as to be hardly noticed, or a least to cause no perceptable obstruction or inconvenience on the building. By this plan, water in sufficient quantity, not only for culinary purposes, but for extinguishing fires may be obtained. The water being thus elevated, the necessity for fire engines will be in a great measure, if not principally superseded by means of a hose water may be carried, by its own gravity, to the top of any edifice required. Mr. Camaron has prepared models and calculations which are well adapted to elucidate his principles and view relative to the subject; and taking into consideration the revenue which will arise from the distribution of so large a quantity of pure spring water, the necessity for an ample supply of water in case of fire; and the difference of the cost in favor of establishing his principle, instead of the one which proposes to bring water from a great distance, through pipes, by means of its own gravity, there can remain no doubt, that Mr. Camaron's plan will not only serve all ordinary purposes, but will be the only safe reliance in case of emergency. Yours, A Citizen.
of the House of Representatives, March 8, 1830, 21st Congress, 1st
Mr. Forward presented a communication of Ichabod Lord Skinner, of the city of Washington, upon the subject of the formation of an extensive Basin in the Mall, West of the Capitol, as a part of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal; and also, upon the subject of supplying the public buildings in Washington with water; which communication was read, and so much thereof as relates to a basin, was referred to the Committee on Internal Improvements; and so much as relates to supplying the public buildings with water, was referred to the Committee for the District of Columbia.
1830 Skinner's Grand Basin -- Water for Public Buildings, &c. March 8, 1830, 21st Congress, 1st Session, H. Rpt. 281.
1830 Water for the Capitol. Letter from Robert Mills to the chairman of the committee on the public buildings, upon the subject of providing a supply of water for the use of the capitol, March 30, 1830. 21st Congress, 1st Session, H. Rpt. 344.
1830 Skinner's Grand Central Basin, April 20, 1830, 21st Congress, 1st Session, H. Rpt. 375.
1830 Skinner's Grand Central Basin, April 22, 1830, 21st Congress, 1st Session, H. Rpt. 376.
1832 Public Improvements in Washington, February 15, 1832, from Reports Of Committees of The House of Representatives at the First Session Of The Twenty-Second Congress, Begun and held At The City of Washington, December 7, 1831. 22d Congress, 1st Session, H. Rep. No. 291.
act for improving Pennsylvania Avenue, supplying the Public Buildings
with water, and for paving the walk from the western gate to the Capitol
with flagging. May 25, 1832.
Sec. 2. For conducting water in pipes from the fountain on square number two hundred and forty-nine, to the Presidentís house and public offices, and the construction of reservoirs and hydrants, five thousand seven hundred dollars.
For bringing water in pipes to the Capitol, and the construction of reservoirs and hydrants, and the purchase of the rights of individuals to the water, forty thousand dollars.
States Telegraph, June 27, 1832, Page 2.
To the Public. Understanding that Congress have appropriated forty thousand dollars for hydraulic purposes and supplying the capital and public buildings with pure water, I am induced to submit the following:
Some time before I received this information, I laid before the Commissioner of Public Buildings and the Committee on the District of Columbia, a model of machinery invented by myself for raising water, and explained fully to them, personally, the manner which I propose to supply with water the above mentioned buildings. It is my intention to convey in pipes to the foot of the Capitol, water from Gibson's springs, east of the Capitol, and from the springs south of the city canal, recently discovered; also, from the springs on 13th street, and from thence to be forced up the hill, into a reservoir to be placed sixty feet higher than the Capitol yard, so that it might be above the roof of any house in the city; this water then to be conveyed in pipes along Pennsylvania Avenue, or in any direction to the General Post office, and from thence to the President's house and the other public buildings.
This plan, if adopted, would partially supercede the use of fire engines, thereby saving a considerable portion of the most valuable property before any fire engine could probably arrive on the spot, in case of fire.
All that is necessary to effect this, is, to have at regular intervals what are called fire-plugs and in case of fire, the most convenient plug is to be removed, and in its place a short piece of hose; to which is added a pipe made for the purpose which pipe can be directed to any part of the house on fire, without any labor excepting that of the pipe holder. These are my plans, and cheerfully submit them to the consideration of the public, in contract with those suggested by Mr. Elgar, whose plan is, I understand, to supply the Capitol with water from Queen's springs. Upon examining these springs a few days ago, I found them to be worth almost nothing; at this time there is hardly a sufficiency of water to be obtained there to fill a callibre of two inches; and I have been informed by a gentleman of strict integrity and veracity, that in the summer months, the stream running from these springs often dries up a short distance from the springs. If my designs were put into operation, it would not only afford an ample supply for the above mentioned buildings, but for every house in the city. The quantity produced would fill a callibre of 12 or 13 inches, running at a rate of two miles an hour. I also entertain a confident opinion, that seven hogsheads per minute can be can be produced from those springs, making 441 gallons per minute, 26,460 per hour, and 635,040 gallons per day; and allowing each inhabitant to consume 5 gallons per day, this would remain a sufficiency for 127,008 inhabitants.
The difference of expense in the Commissioner's plan and mine, would only be the cost of the extra size of pipes to convey the water. By my plan, the public buildings, after they have been supplied with water, for every useful and necessary purpose, the residue of the water will be sufficient for all uses with the corporation of the city of Corporation might, for any length of time, require.
I would do injustice to myself, where I to conclude this article without suggesting to the corporation of the city, the propriety of keeping the water use in repair, for the use of the surplus water.
All of which is respectfully submitted.
George Cameron, Engineer and Practical Mechanic.
Washington city, 22d June, 1832.
of the Commissioner of the Public Buildings, December 13,
1832. 22d Congress, 2d Section H. Doc. No. 11 [excerpt]
Conveying water to the Capitol, $24,222.71
Conveying water to the public offices, $2,587.93
A fountain of pure water, discharging sixty gallons per minutes, has been secured, and the water conveyed in iron pipes to within a short distance of its ultimate terminal at the Capitol. One of the capacious reservoirs is nearly finished, and the material for the other is being prepared.
The fountain on square two hundred and forty-nine has been conducted in iron pipes to the nearest offices; but it has yet to be extended to the President's House and more remote offices, and the reservoirs and hydrants are to construct. Respectfully submitted, J. Elgar, Com. Pub. Buildings.
of the Commissioner of Public Buildings, December 22, 1834, 22nd
Congress, 2nd Session, H. Doc. No. 35. [This document also contains
information on the water supply to the Capitol.]
Page 2: President's House ... Fresh spring water has been introduced into the kitchen, the scullery, pantry, and dairy ; and the water closets, and the warm, cold, and shower baths have been repaired and greatly improved.
Buildings and Grounds, Estimates for 1837, January 28, 1837, 24th
Congress, 2d Session, H. Doc. No. 109.
Page 6. G. For conducting water from the capitol pipe, along the avenue, to the Treasury and General Post Office buildings and providing the necessary fire-plugs along the avenue, to be used in case of fire, and for watering the avenue. $10,000.
Report of the Commissioner of Public Buildings, by William Noland,
December 15, 1837. 25th Congress, 2d Session, H. Doc. No. 28.
Page 1: Expenditures - For conducting the water along the Pennsylvania avenue, from the pipes at the Capitol, to the Treasury and General Post Office buildings, with the necessary fire plugs to water the avenue - $9,326.09.
Pages 5-6: Supplying water to the public buildings, &c.--According to instructions given, a line of four-inch iron pipes has been laid down and completed, to convey the water from the reservoir east of the Capitol, along the Pennsylvania avenue, to Fifteenth street; and twenty-one fire plugs, with the requisite stop-cocks, placed at suitable distances along the line, to be used in case of fire, and for watering the avenue. The utility of even this small supply of water has been already manifested; by a trial with the hose, at the building now occupied by the Treasury Department, the water, under its natural heads was carried in a fine stream to the top of the building.
I would recommend that the pipe be continued beyond Fifteenth. street, through the President's grounds, to Seventeenth street, where, in case of fire at either the President's house or the War and Navy offices, this supply of water would be of essential service, and for common purposes would, at all times, be useful. The present new Treasury building would be benefited by having a supply of water from these pipes for making up mortar, &c., especially if the south building is ordered to be erected. Respectfully submitted. ROBERT MILLS, Architect of the Public Buildings
by Commissioner of Public Buildings, April 27, 1838 25th Congress,
2d Session, H. Doc No. 352.
Page 4-6: A Copy of Contract for Laying Iron Pipes, May 10, 1837
Report of the Commissioner of Public Buildings, by William Noland,
December 10, 1838. 25th Congress, 3d Session, H. Doc. No. 20.
Page 2: The President's mansion has received several necessary repairs and improvements. In the basement story a reservoir has been constructed, which, by means of a double forcing pump, supplies the kitchen, pantry, baths, and water-closets, with fine, pure water.
1845 American Republican and Baltimore Daily
Clipper, June 02, 1845, Page 4
Washington, May 31, 1845. An inquest was held this morning over the body of Mr. George Cameron, an aged and ingenious mechanic, who was found by a neighbor lying dead with his head leaning against the front door of his dwelling, near the wood year of Mr. Walter Warder in the second ward of this city. Mr. Cameron was a native of Scotland and about 69 years of age, very inform and tottering in his walk. He was a poor but honest man, and very inoffensive in this disposition and habits. It was thought he fell down in a fit and died almost instantly.
of the Committee by Public Buildings and Grounds, by John W.
Houston, February 13, 1849,
Page 12: President's House. It is also necessary that the laundry, kitchen, and scullery should be supplied with water by proper and permanent fixtures; a tank, therefore, placed in a position to be hereafter designated, will be required, the same to be supplied by a force-pump from the cistern on the east of the building, or from the source which supplies the treasury, and which has sufficient elevation to reach the chamber floor. The former, however, would answer by the introduction of the proper fixtures supply and waste pipes, traps, stopcocks, troughs, &c.
National Intelligencer, August 10, 1849, Pages 1-2.
Corporation of Washington, Mayor's Office, August 6, 1849. The disposition which has been on many occasions evinced by Congress to favor those improvements about which the most scrupulous can find no constitutional objection, gives us every reason to hope that the time is not too distant when they will lend aid to consummate the suggestion of President Jefferson, by bringing the water of the Potomac from the Great Falls into the city. The recent completion of similar works in the cities of New York and Boston, of much more difficult and costly accomplishment, leaves no room to doubt its easy practicability; and the advantage which would accrue in the increased facilities of cleanliness, healthiness, and comfort, and greater security from conflagration, must be so obvious that I cannot but feel a strong confidence in the early and favorable action of Congress on the subject.
Report of the Commissioner of Public Buildings for the year 1849,
by Ignatius Mudd, January 21, 1850, 31st Congress, 1st Session, H.
Ex. Doc. No. 30.
Page 11: President's House. Various other improvements, which it were useless to particularize, embracing pavements, gutters, gravelled ways, pumps, water-pipes, and hot-houses, have also been effected.
Page 14-15: Water-Works. Due attention and repairs have been bestowed upon the water-works, which consist of about two miles of iron pipes leading from the source of supply to the reservoir on the east front of the Capitol. The water is conveyed thence by similar pipes through the Capitol and the lower park, along the north side of Pennsylvania avenue to the President's house and the adjacent executive buildings. A line of pipe branching from the pipes on the avenue conveys it, also, to the General Post Office and Patent Office buildings. And, as an auxiliary to this supply, there is another line of pipe by which the water is brought from the spring in Fountain square to the State Department. The supply from all the sources is, however, becoming daily insufficient. This is owing partly to the increased consumption at the several points where the water has been introduced, and partly to the large draughts made upon the pipes along the avenue for local and private uses. Individuals have assumed the privilege of tapping these pipes in opposition to all authority, and, under the existing laws for the protection of government property in the city of Washington, there is no effectual means for preventing it. An ample supply for the use of the government and the city, especially in time of fire, is certainly of the first importance, and well worthy of the consideration of Congress. Whether it can be obtained from present sources, by the adoption of stringent measures to correct the abuse to which I have alluded, is, perhaps, doubtful. I should think, however, that if the consumption could be exclusively confined to government uses, and to such quantity as might be required in extinguishing fires, the supply would, for the present at least, be sufficient. W. W. Seaton.
National Intelligencer, May 16, 1850, Page 3
Washington Board of Aldermen, Monday, May 13, 1850. Mr. Maury introduced a joint resolution directing an application to Congress in relation to supplying this city with water; which was read three times and passed.
National Intelligencer, May 20, 1850, Page 1
City Ordinances. Joint Resolution directing an application to Congress in relation to supplying this city with water. Resolved, &c. That the committee appointed to attend to the interests of this Corporation before Congress be and they are hereby instructed respectfully to represent to that body the present inadequate supply of water in this city for public as well as private purposes; and the importance of measures being taken at an early day to secure an ample supply; and also to ask the aid of Congress in the accomplishment of that desirable object. Approved, May 18, 1850.
Daily Union, September 25, 1850, Page 2
Senate Debate, Saturday, September 21, 1850.
Mr. Mason, The same committee have instructed me to offer another amendment:
"To enable the War Department to make such examination and surveys as may be necessary to determine upon the best and most available mode of supply the city of Washington with pure water, and to propose a plan and estimate of the cost of the same, to be reported to this Congress at its next session, $1,500."
Mr. President, this proposition is based upon a petition of a number of citizens of Washington, praying that Congress would authorize surveys to be made and a report upon the subject, with the idea that it is practicable to supply the city with water at a cost within the ability of the corporation, the Untied States will find it desirable to unite with the corporation in order to do it. The present supply of water is perfect inadequate to the purposes of the government. it supplies none but the citizens, and does not extend further than the Treasury and State Departments.
Mr. Dickinson. Can the senator state whether there is more water used now than in former years?
Mr. Mason. Yes, sir; there are a great many more people in the city to drink. [Laughter.]
Mr. Bright. It is a thankless task to resis such an amendment as this; nevertheless my sense of duty compels me to do it. This Capitol, sir, is amply furnished with water, and the public buildings at the other end of the city are furnished with a large supply. I do not see that the general government is bound to furnish the citizens at Washington city with water, and I do nto know upon what principle of right and justice they can claim it at our hands. I think the amendment, therefore, has not sufficient merit for us to adopt it.
Mr. Mason. Congress is certainly not bound to furnish Washington with water; but it will find it, I think, a matter of importance and economy to have the city so far supplied with water as to have the means of protecting public buildings from fire. For that purpose, they have already brought water to the Capitol, and carried it down as far as the Treasury Building; but this work does not furnish a sufficient quantity of water to supply the buildings beyond the President's House.
Mr. Bright. I must make one reply to the senator. We pay about four times the necessary cost of the public buildings of making them fire-proof, and then we are called upon to protect them against fire. It is about upon that principle that appropriations in this city are generally asked and generally carried.
The question being taking on the amendment, it was not agreed to.
Daily Globe September 28, 1850, Page 2
Senate Debate, Monday, September 23, 1850.
Mr. Mason. On Saturday I asked, in behalf of the District of Columbia, for an appropriation of $5,000 for an examination and survey to be made by the War Department for the introduction of water into the city of Washington. It was rejected.
Mr. Hale. Try it again.
Mr. Mason. I am now informed by the authorities of Washington that their only desire is to have the benefit of the science under the War Department for the examination; and therefore I have reduced the appropriation to $500. The city of Washington will endeavor to bear the expense, but they want this science to aid them.\
The amendment was agree to.
Mr. Dickinson. I hope that will be the last.
1850 Chap. XC.- An
act making appropriation for the civil and diplomatic expenses of the
Government for the year ending the thirtieth of June, eighteen hundred
and fifty-one, and for other purposes, September 30, 1850.
31st Congress, 1st Session.
To enable the War Department to make such examinations and surveys as may be necessary to determine upon the best and most available mode of supplying the city of Washington with pure water, and to prepare a plan and estimate of the probable cost of the same, to be reported to Congress at its next session, five hundred dollars.
National Intelligencer, October 10, 1850, Page 4.
Board of Common Council, Monday, October 7, 1850. The bill from the Board of Aldermen "making an appropriation to aid in making the survey and estimate of the cost of supplying the city of water," was taken up, read three times, and passed.
National Intelligencer, October 12, 1850, Page 1.
City Ordinances. An act making an appropriation to aid in making the survey and an estimate of the cost of supplying the city with water.
Be it enacted by the Board of Aldermen and Board of Common Council of the city of Washington, That the sum of one thousand dollars, or as much thereof as may be necessary, be and the same is hereby appropriated, payable out of the general fund, to aid in making the survey and and estimate of the cost of the most available mode of supplying this city with water, ordered at the last session of Congress, the same to be paid, under the direction of the Mayor, to the order of the officer of the topographical engineers to whom has been assigned that duty by the War Department.
Silas H. Hill, President of the Board of Common Council. B. B. French, President of the Board of Aldermen. Approved, October 10, 1850. W. Lenox, Mayor.
Millard Fillmore, First Annual Message to Congress, December 2, 1850
This District, which has neither voice nor vote in your deliberations, looks to you for protection and aid, and I commend all its wants to your favorable consideration, with a full confidence that you will meet them not only with justice, but with liberality. It should be borne in mind that in this city, laid out by Washington and consecrated by his name, is located the Capitol of our nation, the emblem of our Union and the symbol of our greatness. Here also are situated all the public buildings necessary for the use of the Government, and all these are exempt from taxation. It should be the pride of Americans to render this place attractive to the people of the whole Republic and convenient and safe for the transaction of the public business and the preservation of the public records. The Government should therefore bear a liberal proportion of the burdens of all necessary and useful improvements. And as nothing could contribute more to the health, comfort, and safety of the city and the security of the public buildings and records than an abundant supply of pure water, I respectfully recommend that you make such provisions for obtaining the same as in your wisdom you may deem proper.
Report of the Commissioner of Public Buildings for the year 1850, by
Ignatius Mudd, February 6, 1851. 31st Congress, 2d Session, H. Ex.
Doc. No. 47.
Page 19: WATER-WORKS. The iron pipes through which water is drawn from the government spring about two miles north of the city, for the use of the Capitol and executive buildings, is believed to be in good order. As is generally known, the quantity of water from this source is totally insufficient for the objects contemplated, and is rendered more so, as I have reason to believe, by drafts made on it for private use, from those pipes along Pennsylvania avenue. One of the most important purposes for which this water was designed, was that of watering the avenue; but the supply has been so inadequate even for the other: more indispensable objects, that little or no application of it has been made for that purpose for some years past. As I understand surveys are now being made by a distinguished officer of the Topographical Bureau, with a view to ascertain the practicability and cost of obtaining a more ample supply of water for the government and city purposes, under an appropriation made last session for that purpose, I have deemed it unnecessary to recommend any means for obtaining such a limited additional supply as possibly might be obtained by pipes of larger capacity from the present source of supply.
1851 Letter from the Secretary of War, transmitting a report on the subject of supplying pure water to the city of Washington, March 3, 1851. 31st Congress, 2d Session, H. Ex. Doc. No. 33.
1851 American Telegraph, June 13,
1851, Page 2
Office of the Washington Gas Light Company, June 12, 1851. The company have entered into a contract with the well-known and responsible firm of Battin, Dungan & Co., of Philadelphia, for the erection of an entire new works.
1851 The Daily Union, December 18,
1851, Page 1
Senate, Wednesday, December 17, 1851. Mr. Underwood presented the petition of Peter G. Washington, John C. F. Salomon, and William Selden, proposing to enter into a contract with the government for supplying Washington and Georgetown with water from the Potomac river above Georgetown; which was referred to the Committee on the District of Columbia.
1852 Daily American Telegraph,
February 3, 1852, Page 3
Sudden Death of a Clergyman.--Rev. I. L. Skinner, 84 years of age, died suddenly on Thursday, while attending a lecture by the Rev. Mr. Eggleston at Mr. Beecher's Church, Brooklyn. His daughter observed him lean forward, and he did not stir for some time, she shook him, when it was discovered that he was dead. The deceased was a native of Connecticut, but was pastor of a church for many years in Frostburg, Maryland, whence he removed to Brooklyn about a year ago. He was also for many years a resident of this city.
National Intelligencer, February 5, 1852, Page 1.
Board of Aldermen, Monday, February 2, 1852. A communication from Messrs. P. G. Washington and J. C. F. Salomon, in relation to a proposition for supplying this city with water.
1852 Journal of the House of Representatives,
Page 321: February 6, 1852, By Mr. Ficklin: The petition of Battin, Dungan & Co., praying for an act of incorporation to the Washington City Water Company; which was referred to the Committee for the District of Columbia.
National Intelligencer, February 19, 1852, Page 1.
City Affairs. Corporation of Washington. Board of Aldermen, Monday, February 16, 1852.
Mr. French, from the joint committee to which was referred the resolution in relation to bringing water into the city, reported the same with an amendment to strike out all after the enacting clause and insert the following:
Resolved, That the two Boards have had under consideration the proposition submitted to them by Messrs. P. G. Washington, J. C. F. Salomon, and Wm. Selden, and have given it that consideration which the great importance of the subject required; and are of opinion that the best interests of the city prompt us to dissent from said proposition.
Resolved, further, That the committee representing the interests of this Corporation before Congress be instructed to oppose the adoption of said project by the Congress of the United States, and urge upon that body the adoption of some plan that would accomplish the object and give control of the matter to the Government or the Corporation, or jointly.
May 17, 1852, Page 3
Proposed Supply of Water.--A bill has been reported in the Senate of Maryland to incorporate a company, (with a capital of twenty thousand shares of $100 each,) consisting of the Hon. Thos. G. Preatt, Hon. Philip F. Thomas, Hon. Samuel Hambleton, Hon. W. Cost Johnson, and W. H. Dunkinson and E. Gaither, esqs., who are to have power to construct a railroad from the Point of Rocks to some ont on the line dividing Montgomery county, Md., from the District of Columbia; and also to furnish the United States Government, and the citizens of the District of Columbia, with a full supply of pure water from the Potomac or its tributaries, by means of iron pipes laid along the line of the proposed railroad.
National Intelligencer, June 16, 1852, Page 1
City Ordinances. Joint Resolution instructing the committee having charge of the interests of this Corporation before Congress relatively to bringing water into the city.
Resolved, &c. That the two Board have had under consideration the proposition submitted to them by Messrs. P. G. Washington, J. C. F. Salomon, and William Selden, and have given it that consideration which the great importance of the subject required, and are of opinion that the best interests of the city prompt us to dissent from said proposition, or any proposition confiding it in individuals or chartered company, if possible.
Resolved further, That the committee respresenting the interests of this Corporation before Congress be instructed to oppose the adoption of said project by the Congress of the United States, and urge upon that body the adoption of such some which would accomplish the object and give the control of the matter to the Government or the Corporation, or jointly. Approved, February 19, 1852.
XVIII.--An Act making Appropriations for the Civil and Diplomatic
Expenses of the Government for the Year ending the thirtieth of June,
eighteen hundred and fifty-three, and for other purposes. August 31,
1852. 32d Congress, 1st Session.
"To enable the President of the United States to cause the necessary surveys, projects, and estimates to be made for determining the best means of affording the cities of Washington and Georgetown an unfailing and abundant supply of good and wholesome water--report thereof to be made to Congress at its next session--the sum of five thousand dollars, or so much thereof as may be found necessary."
1852 Frederic A. Smith, USMA 1833, Died October 16, 1852 at Washington D. C. Aged 40. Captain Corps of Engineers Cullum # 707
Report of the Commissioner of Public Buildings, by William Easby,
February 12, 1853. 33d Congress, 2d Session, H. Mis. Doc. No. 20.
Page 5: Iron pipes to conduct water to the Capitol. The pipes have been purchased, and are now being laid. They can be brought into use in March next.
Pages 7-8: It is made my duty to report to you "any measures which may be necessary for the care and preservation of the public property." I would therefore respectfully ask your attention to the fact, that in many instances the proprietors of hotels and others, on Pennsylvania avenue, have tapped the water-pipes laid down by the government for its own purposes; and to such an extent has the water been drawn away by this means, that the supply is exhausted before it reaches the Patent Office buildings, and I have repeatedly been obliged to pay for hauling water to the works there in progress. I have caused these taps to be cut off at different times, but in a few days they are found to be renewed. The facilities for making these connexions are so great, and there being no adequate means of punishing offenders, I would respectfully suggest that provision be made by law for punishing, by fine, any who shall thus offend.
1853 Maryland Petition to form the Potomac Water Company, February 15, 1853 William Cost Johnson
1853 Message from the President of the United States, communicating, in compliance with a resolution of the Senate, a report of Lieutenant Meigs, with surveys, plans, and estimates for supplying the cities of Washington and Georgetown with water. February 21, 1853. 32nd Congress, 2d Session, S. Ex. Doc. No. 48.
1853 Water-works for the Metropolitan City of Washington, by Robert Mills.
1853 Chap XCVII.--An
act making Appropriations for the Civil and Diplomatic Expenses of
Government for the year ending the thirtieth of June, eighteen hundred
and fifty-four. March 3, 1853. 32d Congress, 2d Session.
"To be expended under the direction of the President of the United States for the purpose of bringing water into the city of Washington, upon such plans and from such places as he may approve, one hundred thousand dollars: Provided, That if the plan adopted by the President of the United States should require that to be drawn from any source within the limits of Maryland, the consent of the legislature of that State should first be obtained."
National Intelligencer, April 4, 1853, page 1.
Supply of Water from the Potomac.--It appears that on the 18th of February last a bill was introduced into the Legislature of Maryland, the object of which is to incorporate a private company, by the name of the "Potomac Water Company," to supply the cities of Washington and Georgetown with water from the Potomac river. See that the Government has set on foot an undertaking of precisely the same character, carrying with it a prestige scarcely to be pretended by a private company, we confess so some surprise that such an enterprise should have even been thought us. A bill granting the right of way to Congress for the tapping of the river and the right of way through the territory of the state has been introduced, and will undoubtedly pass.
1853 An act giving the assent of the State of Maryland, to such plan as may be adopted by the President of the United States, for supplying the City of Washington with Water. May 3, 1853.
1853 Report of Operations in regard to the Washington Aqueduct, during the year ending September 30, 1853. by M. C. Meigs, 33d Congress, 1st Session, S. Ex. Doc 1.
1853 "Water Pipes," Washington Sentinel (Washington, D.C.), October 15, 1853, Page 3.
1853 Capital Builder: The Shorthand Journals of Montgomery C. Meigs, 1853-59, 1861, edited by Wendy Wolfe
1854 Plan of water works for the cities of the District: with explanatory remarks : also, letters from Robert Mills, Esq., architect and civil engineer, and Hon. Francis O.J. Smith of Maine. By John C. Fr. Salomon, February 14, 1854. | Map to accompany Salomon's Plan |
1854 Daily National Era, February
23, 1854, Page 2
Water-Works for the District of Columbia.--John C. Fr. Salomon has presented to us a pamphlet, containing his memorial to Congress on the subject.
1854 An act giving the consent of the legislature of the State of Virginia to the purchase of lands by the United States for the Washington Aqueduct, and ceding jurisdiction over the same. March 3, 1854.
1854 House debate over proposed $500,000 water works appropriation, May 23, 1854, The Congressional Globe, 28:1272-1277, also on May 24 pags 1288-1290
1854 Daily Evening Star, May 27,
1854, Page 2
"The Defeat of the Water Works Appropriation"
1854 Memorial of John C. Fr. Salomon for incorporation of a company to supply the city of Washington with water, June 10, 1854. 33d Congress, 1st Session, H. Rpt. 174.
1854 Washington Aqueduct, November 29, 1854, 33d Congress 2nd Session, S. Ex. Doc. 1
1855 "Supply of Water to Washington and Georgetown," by Montgomery C. Meigs, from The Civil Engineer and Architect's Journal, 18:193-198 (1855)
1855 Chap CLXXV.--An
act making Appropriations for the Civil and Diplomatic Expenses of
Government for the year ending the thirtieth of June, eighteen hundred
and fifty-six, and for other purposes. March 3, 1855. 33d Congress,
For continuing the work on the Washington aqueduct, two hundred and fifty thousand dollars.
1855 "Washington Aqueduct," opinion of Attorney General Caleb Cushing, April 24, 1855. From Official Opinions of the Attorneys General of the United States, Advising the President and Heads of Departments in Relation to Their Official Duties, Volume 7
1855 Annual report of operations on the Washington Aqueduct, during the year ending September 30, 1855, by M. C. Meigs, 34th Congress, 1st Session, S. Ex. Doc 1.
1856 Letter from the Secretary of War transmitting Papers containing information respecting the Washington Aqueduct, April 10, 1856. 34th Congress, 1st Session, H. Ex. Doc. No. 82.
1856 Chap CXXIX.--An
act making Appropriations, for certain Civil Expenses of Government for
the year ending the thirtieth of June, eighteen hundred and fifty-seven.
August 18, 1856. 34d Congress, 1st Session.
For paying existing liabilities for the Washington aqueduct, and preserving the work already done from jury, such sum of money as shall be necessary, not exceeding, two hundred and fifty thousand dollars.
1856 Annual report of operations on the Washington Aqueduct, during the year ending September 30, 1856. by M. C. Meigs, 34th Congress, 3d Session, S. Ex. Doc.5.
1857 Chap CVII.--An
act making Appropriations, for certain Civil Expenses of Government for
the year ending the thirtieth of June, eighteen hundred and fifty-eight.
March 3, 1857. 34d Congress, 3d Session.
For continuing Washington aqueduct, one million of dollars.
1857 Annual report of the operations upon the Washington aqueduct during the year ending 30th September, 1857, by M. C. Meigs. 35th Congress, 1st Session, Senate Ex. Doc. No. 11.
1858 Chap. XIV.--An act to require certain Lands needed for the Washington Aqueduct, in the District of Columbia, April 8, 1858. 35th Congress, 1st Session.
1858 Chap. CLIV.--An
act making Appropriations for sundry Civil Expenses of the Government
for the year ending the thirtieth of June, eighteen hundred and
fifty-nine. June 12, 1858. 35th Congress, 1st Session.
For the completion of the Washington aqueduct, eight hundred thousand dollars, and in addition thereto, so much of the appropriation of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars "for paying existing liabilities for the Washington aqueduct, and preserving the work already done from injury," contained in the act entitled "An act making appropriations for certain civil expenses of the government for the year ending the thirtieth June, eighteen hundred and fifty-seven," approved eighteenth august, eighteen hundred and fifty-six, as may not be required for said purposes.
1858 "Government Contracts Sent Abroad," The Evansville Daily Journal, August 18, 1858, Page 2. Cast iron pipe for the Washington Aqueduct.
1858 "Going to Glasgow for Iron," The Bedford Inquirer (Bedford, Pennsylvania), August 20, 1858, Page 1. | part 2 |
Courant, September 2, 1858, Page 2.
The water-works of Washington city will cost $6,000,000, which the people of the whole country must pay, whilst the iron for the pipes comes from Scotland.
Aqueduct, Annual report of operations during the year ending September
30, 1858, by M. C. Meigs, 35th Congress, 2nd Session, H. Ex. Doc. 2
Page 997: Contract for Water Pressure Engine, June 5, 1858.
1858 "Aqueduct Water," States (Washington, D.C.), October 1, 1858, Page 3.
1858 "Lead Pipes," States (Washington, D.C.), October 4, 1858, Page 3.
1858 "Pipes for the Washington Aqueduct," The Washington Union, October 6, 1858, Page 2.
1858 "Pipes for the Aqueduct," The Washington Union, October 8, 1858, Page 2.
1858 "Potomac Water Lead-Pipes," Daily National Intelligencer (Washington, D.C.), October 8, 1858, Page 2.
Potomac Aqueduct," The Washington Union, October 10, 1858,
Easton, (Pa.,) Oct 9.- The Warren foundry, at Phillipsburg, have contracted with Capt. M.C. Meigs to supply a large portion of the iron water-pipes required for the Washingotn aqueduct.
1859 Photograph of introduction of water from Washington Aqueduct at the Capitol, January 3, 1859
1859 The Washington Union, January
4, 1859, Page 2 | also here
We publish the following letter addressed to the Mayor:
Washington, Jan. 3, 1859. Dear Sir: The water was let into the mains today at 10, a. m.; and when I opened the valve, after a hard night's work, I had the satisfaction of sending to Georgetown and Washington a supply of water larger than they are likely to provide the pipes to distribute before the aqueduct can be completed to the Great Falls. M. C. Meigs, Captain of Engineers.
1859 Report to accompany Bill S. 558 "A bill to authorize the city of Washington to distribute and use the water soon to be introduced therein from the Potomac River" and the "Bill conferring certain powers on the corporations of Washington and Georgetown." February 4, 1859, 35th Congress, 2d Session, Sen. Rep. Com. No. 369.
1859 Opinion of Judge Brewer in the Great Falls land condemnation case, February 21, 1859, 35th Congress, 2d Session, S. Ex. Doc. No. 42
1859 Chap. LXXXIV. An act to provide for the care and preservation of the works constructed by the United States for bringing the Potomac water into the cities of Washington and Georgetown for the supply of said water for all Governmental purposes, and for the uses and benefit of the inhabitants of said cities, March 3, 1859
1859 "Lead Water Pipes," Daily National Intelligencer (Washington, D.C.), May 26, 1859, Page 3.
1859 An act regulating the distribution of Potomac water throughout the city of Washington, June 2, 1859. | also here |
1859 Wm. C. Reddall vs. Wm. H. Bryan and Others 14 Md. 444, Decided June 29, 1859, Court of Appeals of Maryland.
of the Commissioner of Public Buildings, October 13, 1859, 36th
Congress, 1st Session, H Ex Doc 1.
Page 165: The Potomac water has been introduced into the President's grounds and the basement of the house. It was deemed unadvisable to carry it into the upper part of the house, which is already supplied with pure spring water, from Franklin Square.
1859 Washington Aqueduct, October 24, 1859, by M. C. Meigs. 36th Congress, 1st Session, S. Ex. Doc 2.
1859 Report of the Engineer in Charge of the Finished Portion of the Potomac Water Works, by James St. C. Morton, November 26, 1859. 36th Congress, 1st Session, S. Ex. Doc. 1. [This document includes details about connections between the old and new water systems.]
1859 Sketch of the Civil Engineering of North
America, by David Stevenson
Page 203: The citizens of Washington have followed the example of their neighbours of New York, and are constructing an aqueduct to supply that city with water from the River Potomac. Its length (as stated in the Report of the Council of Civil Engineers in 1858) is about twelve miles, and the height of the source about 150 feet above high water mark. The aqueduct is circular, nine feet in diameter, and is built chiefly of rubble masonry, fourteen inches in thickness, laid in hydraulic cement. The fall is nine inches in 5000 feet; a bridge, of 200 feet span of iron, crosses the creek between Washington and Georgetown. The iron pipes, forty-eight inches diameter, do duty as arched ribs to support the bridge, and also as mains to convey the water under pressure; and they are lined with staves of wood as a protection against frost. It is expected that the work will be completed in August 1859. The estimated cost was £.510,000.
1860 "The Great Washington Aqueduct Bridge," by M.C. Meigs, January 27, 1860, from Scientific American 2(6):86-87 (February 4, 1860)
York Herald, February 12, 1860, Page 5.
Died. Salomon.-- in the city of New York, Saturday, Feb. 11, of disease of the heart, John C. F. Salomon, aged 66 years, 10 months, and 5 days.
1860 "New Aqueduct Bridge at Washington, D.C.," from The American Gas Light Journal 1(9):187 (March 1, 1860) Unattributed reprint of January 27, 1860 Scientific American article by M.C. Meigs.
1860 Specification of Letters Patent No. 28,391, dated May 22, 1860, by Montgomery C. Meigs. These hydrants, designed and patented by Meigs, were used on the aqueduct water system although it is not known how many were installed or for how long they were in service.
1860 Chap. CCI.--An
act making Appropriations for Sundry Civil Expenses of the Government
for the Year ending the thirtieth of June, eighteen hundred and
sixty-one. June 25, 1860. 36th Congress, 1st Session
For the completion of the Washington aqueduct, five hundred thousand dollars, to be expended according to the plans and estimates of Captain Meigs, and under his superintendence: Provided, That the office of engineer of the Potomac water works is hereby abolished, and its duties shall hereafter be discharged by the chief engineer of the Washington Aqueduct.
of the President of the United States in explanation of his approval of
the bill making appropriations for sundry civil expenses of the
government, James Buchanan, June 25, 1860, 36th Congress, 1st
Session H. Ex. Doc. 101.
1860 Report of the engineer of the Potomac Water Works, November 23, 1860. 36th Congress, 2nd Session, H. Ex. Doc. 1
1861 "Military Comforts,"
Daily National Intelligencer (Washington, DC), May 4, 1861, Page 3.
Franklin Square, between I and K streets north and 13th and 14th streets west, is the camping ground of the New York Twelfth Regiment, where sixty frame shanties, to hold sixteen men each, are in process of erection. It is an eligible position, with fine shade trees and an abundant supply of spring and river water. It affords ample room for regimental or company drill.
1861 Report of Operations on the Washington Aqueduct, by M. C. Meigs. September 30, 1861. 37th Congress, 2d Session, S. Ex. Doc 1.
Report of Commissioner of Public Buildings, November 8, 1861.
Page 523: The President's House. Of the appropriation of four thousand four hundred and twenty dollars for introducing Potomac water into the President's House, so much has been expended as was necessary to do the work designed.
1862 No. 36 Joint resolution transferring [the] supervision of the Potomac water works to [the] Department of the Interior, June 18, 1862. 37th Congress, 2nd Session.
1862 Report of the Superintendent of the Washington Aqueduct, November 10, 1862. 37th Congress, 3d Session, H. Ex. Doc. 1.
1863 Chap. CIX.-- An act amendatory to an act entitled "An act to provide for the care and preservation of the works constructed by the United States for bringing the Potomac water into the cities of Washington and Georgetown for the supply of said water for all Governmental purposes, and for the uses and benefit of the inhabitants of said cities," March 3, 1863. 38th Congress, 1st Session.
1863 Annual Report of the Chief Engineer of the Washington Aqueduct, October 1, 1863, by Silas Seymour. 38th Congress, 1st Session, S. Ex. Doc
1864 Supplemental Report of the Chief Engineer
of the Washington Aqueduct, February 22, 1864. 38th
Congress, 1st Session, Senate Mis. Doc. No. 83.
1. Laws of Congress Relating to the Washington Aqueduct.
2. Propriety of Past and Proposed Expenditures.
3. Necessity for further appropriations.
4. Sewerage in the City of Washington.
5. Want of a collection and property arrangement of all laws and reports relating to the Washington Aqueduct.
1864 [Maps of the Washington Aqueduct, Md. and Washington D.C.] : to accompany supplemental report of Chief Engineer dated Feb. 22nd 1864.
1864 An Act to provide for the Supervision, Repairs, Liabilities, and Completion of the Washington Aqueduct, July 4, 1860 $150,000
1864 Annual Report of the Chief Engineer of the Washington Aqueduct, October 1, 1864. 37th Congress, 2d Session, H. Ex. Doc. 1.
report of the Chief Engineer of the Washington Aqueduct, by Silas
Seymour, January 24, 1865. 38th Congress, 2d Session, H. Ex. Doc. No. 35.
Page 1: The fact that the government now depends, to a considerable extent, upon the water from the aqueduct for motive power, and for other purposes, renders it important that the works should be completed as speedily as possible, so far, as least, as to render a constant and adequate supply beyond ordinary contingency.
Page 6: A great quantity of water is also consumed in the navy yard, and lately a turbine wheel has been erected there, which is supplied through a three-inch pipe and used for driving machinery in the pattern shop of the ordnance department. Since this turbine has been in use, the supply of water to the main floor of the Capitol, and in the second stories of many buildings on Capitol hill has been interrupted for some hours during each day.
1866 An Act making Appropriations for sundry Civil Expenses of the Government for the Year ending June thirtieth, eighteen hundred and sixty-seven, and for other Purposes. July 28, 1866 $142,584
1867 Chap. CLXVII.--An
act making Appropriations for sundry Civil Expenses of the Government
for the Year ending June thirtieth, eighteen hundred and sixty-eight,
and for other Purposes. May 2, 1867.
Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That the office of commissioner of public buildings is hereby abolished; and the chief engineer of the army shall perform all the duties now required by law of said commissioner, and shall also have the superintendence of the Washington Aqueduct and all of the public works and improvements of the government of the United States in the District of Columbia, unles otherwise provided by law.
of the engineer of the Washington Aqueduct, October 1, 1867.
40th Congress, 2nd Session, H. Ex. Doc. 1.
Page 550: WATER-PRESSURE ENGINE.
The Worthington water-pressure engine is located in the west abutment of bridge No. 6. It has supplied the high service with water for nearly eight years. It was first put in operation in November, 1859, and worked till October 20, 1862, when it was stopped for repairs. The pistons were taken out and sent to New York, where new cylinders were cast and fitted to them, and the engine was put in motion November 11,1862. It was stopped again for repairs in August, 1863, and the valves, which had become worn, were taken out and planed. Since then it has been stopped but a few hours at a time for slight repairs until the 16th of last month, when it was taken apart and fitted with new pistons and completely cleaned and repaired. This occupied seven days, and the heights were supplied with water by the Georgetown steam fire-engine, which was loaned by the city government for that purpose. The water-pressure engine is now as good as new, and is again in constant operation.
1868 "Lead-Encased Tin Water-Pipes," Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), October 6, 1868, Page 3.
1868 "Water," from The Laws of the Corporation of the City of Washington: Digested and Arranged Under Appropriate Heads in Accordance with a Joint Resolution of the City Councils, Together with an Appendix, Containing a Digest of the Charter and Other Acts of Congress Concerning the City | Water rents |
1869 Annual Report of the Water Registrar, July 2, 1869.
act authorizing the establishment of water meters for the Potomac water,
the laying of an additional water main from the distributing reservoir
of the Washington aqueduct, and for other purposes. July 14,
SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That the use of Potomac water for mechanical and manufacturing purposes, or for private fountains, street and pavement washers, shall be allowed only when, in the opinion said engineer, it will not be detrimental to the general distribution of water in the two cities.
SEC. 3. And be it further enacted, That the supply of water to all places requiring maufacturing establishments, hotels, livery-stables, and other places requiring a large quantity, shall be determined by meters erected and maintained at the expense of the consumer; and the said corporations of Washington and Georgetown shall charge and collect for the quantity
so determined a price not exceeding three cents per hundred gallons.
1870 "Why there is no water," Evening Star (Washington, DC), December 29, 1870, Page 2.
1871 "The Washington Water Meter Excursionists in Gotham," Evening Star (Washington, DC), February 4, 1871, Page 1.
1871 "The Water Meter 'Jamboree,'" Evening Star (Washington, DC), February 4, 1871, Page 4.
1871 "Water Meters," Daily National Republican (Washington, DC), February 7, 1871, Page 4.
1871 An act to procure and test the efficiency of water-meters. February 16, 1871.
1871 "Tammany Tactics in Washington," Evening Star (Washington, DC), March 9, 1871, Page 2.
1871 "Water-meters and the Water Supply," Evening Star (Washington, DC), March 14, 1871, Page 2.
of the Chief of Engineers, October 20, 1871. 42d Congress, 2d
Session, House Ex. Doc. 1, Part 2.
Page 956: Laws of Congress Relating to the Washington Aqueduct.
of Water-Registrar, District of Columbia, November 1872.
Pages 48-49: METERS. The total number of water-meters now applied to premises is 45, via: 1 one-half inch, 23 three-quarter inch, 16 one-inch, 2 two-inch. 3 four inch.
These represent four makers: Ball & Pitts, Tice, Ashcroft, and "Gem," and are attached to hotels, livery-stables, and breweries.
As all establishments are rated at so much per annum, they are useful to us only in detecting an unusual use or waste of water, and then only in some cases; as, notwithstanding the fact that every maker claims for his particular meter a superiority, and is willing to have a "test trial," which generally turns out to the satisfaction of all, few, if any, stand the real test of time and use.
Aside from this, with our immense surplus of water, I doubt the expediency of taxing either the water-taker or the Department for an article which can add nothing to its revenues or its usefulness.
Pages 57-59: Water rates in other cities. New York City, Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Boston, Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Cambridge, Louisville, Saint Louis
Report of Colonel O. E. Babcock, Corps of Engineers, for the Fiscal
Year Ending June 30, 1874. Office of Public Buildings and
Grounds, Washington, D. C., October 7, 1874. From Annual
Report of the Secretary of War, Volume 2.
Page 395: The Government water-pipes conducting water to the Capitol from Smith's Spring are laid along North Capitol street, in which street the board of public works has been constructing a large sewer. The nature of the work was such that the pipes were continually breaking. To correct this, and to avoid the necessity of digging up the street in case of a break, and to maintain the supply of water, the location of the line was changed, it being placed under the side or foot walks, just inside the curb. It was discovered in moving the pipe that many of the pieces had been destroyed by rust. These were replaced with new pipe. The supply of spring-water to the Capitol was nut interrupted during the session of Congress.
1875 Report of the Water Registrar from November, 1874, to November 15, 1875.
Aqueduct, July 1, 1876, 44th Congress, 2d Session, H. Ex. Doc. 1,
pt. 2, Vol II.
Page 696-697: Describes replacement of the Worthington water pressure engine with a Knowles single-acting steam engine by the District of Columbia Water Commissioners. From this 1880 map of the water mains the steam pumping station was located on the south side of Volta Place NW between Wisconsin Ave NW and 33d St NW.
District of Columbia Water Supply," from Engineering News
6:402-403 (December 13, 1879)
155Ĺ gallons per day to each inhabitant of Washington and Georgetown.
Report of the Washington Aqueduct for the fiscal year ending June 30,
1880. 46th Congress, 3d Session, H. Ex. Doc. 1, pt 2, vol II.
Page 2350: The quantity used daily by the general government, 2,626,188 gallons, might be reduced by discontinuing the use of Potomac water for motive power in several of the departments; especially in the Treasury Department, where a turbine is used 5Ĺ hours daily, and an elevator is run by hydraulic pressure; also in the building occupied by the Public Printer, where two condensing engines are in use.
1880 "Map of Water Mains," from City of Washington, statistical maps, Compiled by Lieut. F.V. Greene, assistant to the Engineer Commissioner, 1 July 1880. This map shows sizes of water mains along with locations of fire plugs and hydrants.
1881 "Our Deficient Water Supply," The Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), February 23, 1881, Page 3. Discussion of the Holly Water System.
1881 "Washington," from Engineering News, 8:174 (April 30, 1881)
1882 Washington, from "The Water-Supply of Certain Cities and Towns of the United States," by Walter G. Elliot, C. E., Ph. D.
1884 United States v. Great Falls Mfg. Co., 112 U.S. 645, Decided December 24, 1884.
1887 A complete set of surveys and plats of properties in the city of Washington, District of Columbia. These maps show square numbers and other information.
1888 Great Falls Mfg. Co. v. Attorney General, 124 U.S. 581, Decided February 6, 1888.
1888 Evening Star, May 12, 1888,
In the Heart of Washington. Streams Which Trickled Through the Streets Half a Century Ago.
1888 "Washington and Georgetown," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 1.
1889 Evening Star, December 17,
1889, Page 5
The Franklin Park Spring. What District Chemist Richardson Says Of the Water for the White House. Much has been said and written concerning the water in Franklin park, which is to be conveyed through pipes to the White House for domestic use. The action of Major Ernst, who is laying the pipes, has been criticised because many people think the water impure. Prof. Richardson, the District chemist, said to a Star reporter today:
"I agree with the director of the geological survey that it is undesirable to introduce as a domestic supply water which has its source in such a thickly-settled area as the Franklin square spring. From continued and careful examination and analysis of this water I believe it to be at present perfectly good for drinking purposes or superior to the aqueduct water with its suspended organic matter, but the difficulty lies in the fact that serious contamination may occur at any time and unexpectedly. This is also the case with many of our city wells, which are in constant use. They are harmless today, but there is no knowing what they may contain tomorrow."
1889 Testimony taken by the Joint Select Committee of Congress in regard to The Washington Aqueduct Tunnel. Sen. Rep 2686, 50th Congress, 2nd Session.
1890 "Washington and Georgetown," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 2.
1891 "Washington and Georgetown," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 3.
1892 "Water Supply of Washington," from Centennial History of the City of Washington, D. C, by Harvey W. Crew
1896 "Want the Spigot Opened," The Evening Times, April 25, 1896, Page 2. Includes a map of the water pipeline from Franklin Square to the White House.
1896 Evening Star, April 27, 1896, Page 1. The Franklin Square Springs. Water turned on again in the street hydrants.
1897 "Water Waste in Washington, D. C.," Engineering Record 36(8):158 (July 24, 1897)
1897 "The Washington Aqueduct and Cabin John Bridge", by D. D. Gaillard, Captain, Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army, The National Geographic Magazine 8(12):337-345. (December 1897)
1897 "Washington and Georgetown," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 4.
1899 Evening Star, February 11,
1899, Page 18
There were several times stories of suspicious people around the White House at night, and of an attempt to poison the spring from which the White House gets it supply of water. None of these stories are true.
1899 Evening Star, June 19, 1899,
Franklin Park Water. For years an impression has prevailed that the drinking water for the White House has come from Franklin Park. Stories have been told of attempts to poison the spring in the park that the President might be made away with. Not since President Arthur's administration has the water from Franklin Park been used in the Executive Mansion. At that time and prior to that pipes carrying the water from the spring ran throughout the White House, there being a good flow on the second floor. About that time the flow of the water grew weaker and the supply no longer went to the second floor. Gradually it did not reach the second floor, and for years has run into a little pool at the southeast corner of the building. Even this flow is weak. It is understood at the White House that the flow of the spring has been getting weaker and weaker each year. It is also said that the spring or the pipes running from it has been tapped slyly for private use, thus decreasing the flow.
Water Now Used. There is no use in the water continuing to run to the fountain at the White House, as it is not used regularly. Occasionally some one wants a drink from the spring and the water is caught in a bucket. The President drinks filtered Potomac water and finds that healthy. Of course his table is supplied with mineral and table waters. Mrs. Hayes did not like either the Potomac or Franklin Park water, and thought that cistern water was the purest which could be used. She had a cistern built at the southeast corner of the building and an engine put in to pump the water to the private apartments. She soon tired of this cistern, and it has been an annoyance since. Col. Bingham has now done away with it.
1899 "The Washington Aqueduct, 1853-1898," by William R. Hutton, Engineering Record, 40:190-194 (July 29, 1899)
1900 Feasibility and Propriety of Filtering the Water Supply of Washington, D.C.: Letter from the Secretary of War, Transmitting Copy of a Communication from the Chief of Engineers, United States Army, Submitting Report of an Investigation of the Feasibility and Propriety of Filtering the Water Supply of the City of Washington. 56th Congress, 1st Session, S. Doc. 259.
1901 Purification of the Washington water supply, edited and compiled by Charles Moore.
1903 Purification of the Washington water supply, Second Edition, edited and compiled by Charles Moore.
1904 Water Supply of Washington, D. C., by Colonel Alexander M. Miller, Corps of Engineers, United States Army
of Washington Prior to 1814," by Wilhelmus B. Bryan, Records
of the Columbia Historical Society, 7:71-107 (1904) | Also here
Pages 95-96: To the west of Mr. Duane, William Woodward, who is described as a builder, bought a site on the 28th of April, 1802, from Wm. H. Dorsey on a perpetual ground rent. This site is now covered by the eastern
end of the Metropolitan Hotel. It is apparent that Mr. Woodward put up a building on this property, which he opened as a hotel, for on December 28, 1804, appears the first record of a building used for such a purpose in that locality, when in the columns of the Intelligencer is a notice of a meeting of residents and proprietors to form a citizens' association, which, by the way, is the first announcement of the sort there is any knowledge of, and that an adjournment had been decided upon to the hotel of Wm. Woodward. Later this house is spoken of as Woodward's Centre Tavern. In order to secure a supply of water for his tavern Mr. Woodward, on September 14, 1803, bought from Thos. Tingey a lot on the north side of C Street, just west of Four-and-a-half Street, where there was a fine spring. The water was conveyed by pipes to the hotel, and when Mr. Woodward parted with the property in January, 1806, to Robert Underwood, the right to the use of the water for the hotel was reserved.
1904 Documentary history of the construction and development of the United States Capitol Building and Grounds, by Glenn Brown. 86th Cong., 1st ses. H. Doc. No. 234
Washington Times., September 26, 1904, Page 1.
The main spring in the center of Franklin Park had a great reputation at one time, and until but little over a year ago furnished the White House with its entire supply of drinking water.
1906 Evening Star, February 20,
1906, Page 17.
Franklin Park Water. Use at White House Discontinued Two Years Ago.
1906 "Works for the Purification of the Water Supply of Washington, D. C." by Allen Hazen and E. D. Hardy, Proceedings of the America Society of Civil Engineers, 32(7):586-642 (September 1906)
1907 "Notes on Municipal Government. The Relation of the Municipality to the Water Supply, A Symposium," by Frederic Rex, Chicago, Ill.; Henry Ralph Ringe, Philadelphia, Pa.; Henry Jones Ford, Baltimore, Md.; Edward W. Bemis, Cleveland, O.; Prof. A. C. Richardson, Buffalo, N.Y.; Murray Gross, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pa.; Max B. May, Cincinnati, O.; James J. McLoughlin, New Orleans, La.; Delos F. Wilcox, Secretary, Municipal League, Detroit, Mi.; Daniel E. Garges, Washington, D.C.; Frank E. Lakey, Boston, Mass.; and W. G. Joerns, Duluth, Minn. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 30:129-164 (November 1907)
1907 Origin and Government of the District of
Columbia, by William Tindall
Page 199: Water Supply. A limited supply of water is derived from 62 shallow and 33 deep wells, constructed by the District government and variously distributed.
1908 Evening Star, January 25, 1908,
As to Franklin Park. Known in Early Days of City as Fountain Square. Source of Water Supply for White House and Departments.
Sessford Annals," by John Sessford, Records
of the Columbia Historical Society, Washington, D.C., Volume
11. This document also has many additional reference to installation
of water pipes in the city.
Page 276: The improvements in the city in 1823 and 1824, of a public nature, have been considerable. ... Second Ward. ... Cast iron pipes have been laid from north G street to F, and along F to 12th; thence down 12th to the Pennsylvania avenue, a distance of about 1,700 feet, with seven additional outlets, besides throwing an additional supply into the old line, which ends at 14th street, near Williamson's Tavern. This Spring affords more than two barrels per minute.
Page 300:  A Fountain of Water has been obtained on the farm of J. A. Smith, and the water is already conveyed in iron pipes to the foot of the hill north of the Capitol, affording a copious supply ó a free stone basin around the Naval Monument for its reception is already prepared. ... Water has also been conveyed in iron pipes from Square 249 to the State and Treasury Departments.
Page 304:  The water from the spring, on square 248, has been conveyed in iron pipes to the reservoirs, intended to supply the Executive buildings and President's House. Had the work been properly managed, the object intended could have been accomplished at a less expense; there being a sufficient head and supply, reservoirs of sufficient capacity might have been built, for a supply in case of fire; a portion also to form a jet south of the President's House, and the balance to discharge itself from a fountain or fountains, at the lowest point, at 15th street, and then the balance for the supply of the neighborhood.
Page 313:  Iron pipes have been laid from the Capitol, along the north side of Pennsylvania avenue, to Fifteenth street, with a sufficient number of plugs for the supply of water in case of fire.
Page 316:  An additional supply of water has been obtained for the fountains in the Capitol enclosure, and pipes have been laid conveying water from those at 15th street west into each story of the new Treasury building, which has been for some time occupied by the various offices of the Treasury, which, since the burning, have been kept in rented buildings.
Investigations and Surveys for increasing the Water Supply of the
District of Columbia, July 8, 1909 by Maj. Jay J. Morrow,
Corps of Engineers, House Document No. 347, Sixty-first Congress, second
1909 The Evening Star, November 21,
1909, Part 4, Page 1. | Also here
"Springs and Wells" by James Croggon
1909 The Evening Star, November 26,
1909, Page 17.
"Early Water Supply" by James Croggon
1909 Purification of the Washington Water Supply: Third Edition, Compiled and Indexed by John H. Walker
1911 "The Investigation of Underground Water Waste in Washington, D.C.," by W. A. McFarland, Proceedings of the Annual Convention of the American Water Works Association 31:361-365 (June, 1911)
1911 The Washington Herald, July 23,
1911, Literary Supplement and Magazine Section, Page 39.
Franklin Park Spring Once Fed White House. Poison Scare of Spanish War Days Caused Its Abandonment and It has Been Pronounced Unfit for Use.
1911 "Water Waste in Washington, D, C,," Municipal Journal 31:141-143 (August 2, 1911)
1912 Evening Star, December 05,
1912, Page 14
District Will Not Lay Mains to White House. Without Authority to Furnish Exclusive Water Supply, say Commissioners.
1912 Water Supply of the District of Columbia and the availability of the Water Power at Great Falls for Supplying Light and Power, December 13, 1912, by Lieut Col. W. C. Langfitt, Corps of Engineers, House Document No. 1400, Sixty-second Congress, third session.
1913 Preliminary Investigations and Surveys of Patuxent River as a source of Water Supply for the District of Columbia, January 10, 1913, by Lieut. Col. W. C. Langfitt, Corps of Engineers, House Document No. 1266, Sixty-second Congress, third session.
1914 Standard History of the City of Washington
from a Study of the Original Sources, by William Tindall
Page 331: For 1823 he [John Sessford] tells of the completion of the south portico of the President's house, the laying of cast iron water pipes from north of G Street to F, along F to 12th and thence to Pennsylvania Avenue, connecting with the K Street Spring near or in Franklin Park,
1914 A History of the National Capital from Its
Foundation Through the Period of the Adoption of the Organic Act,
Volume 1 1790-1814, by Wilhelmus Bogart Bryan
Page 516 Woodward Tavern
Page 559 Springs
1916 A History of the National Capital from Its
Foundation Through the Period of the Adoption of the Organic Act,
Volume 2 1815-1878, by Wilhelmus Bogart Bryan
Page 65: Lack of a water supply system
Page 238-239: A Water Supply System Provided
Page 305: A Water Supply System Provided
to Reports of the Chief of Engineers, U.S. Army, 63d Congress, 2d
Session, H. Doc. No. 740.
Page 2077-2078 Water Supply - Washington Aqueduct (1850-1912)
1921 Development of Great Falls for Water Power and Increase of Water Supply for the District of Columbia, February 10, 1903, by Maj. M. C. Tyler, Corps of Engineers, Senate Document No. 403, Sixty-sixth Congress, third session.
1921 Development of Great Falls for water power and increase of water supply for the District of Columbia. Map to accompany above report
interesting experience of the late Colonel Benjamin Silliman Church told
by himself," from Journal of American History,
15(1):21-24 (January, February, March, 1921)
Captain Church and President Abraham Lincoln repair a balky Worthington Relief Reciprocating Pump that supplied water to the upper floors of the White House in May, 1861.
1922 Rider's Washington: A guide book for
Travelers, Compiled under the genreal editorship of Fremont
Rider by Dr. Frederic Taber Cooper
Pages 135-136: On the eastern lot there was formerly a spring, known as the City Spring, and the city Corporation laid wooden pipes for carrying the water to running pumps on 6th and 7th Sts., S. of Pennsylvania Ave. When William Woodward, in 1802, erected his Centre Tavern on the site now covered by the eastern part of the Metropolitan Hotel, he also purchased the lot with the spring on C St.; and subsequently both the Metropolitan and National Hotels depended on this spring for their water supply. It was on this same lot that Washington's first Public Baths were opened, in 1813.
1926 "Tiber Creek," by James F. Duhamel, Read before the Society, December 16, 1924. Records of the Columbia Historical Society, Washington, D.C. 28:203-225 (1926)
1927 "Increasing the Water Supply of Washington, D. C." by J. E. Curtis, Journal of the American Water Works Association, 17(1):27-30 (January 1927)
1928 "New Rapid Sand Filter Plant, Washington, D. C.," by Philip O. Macqueen, Journal of the American Water Works Association, 19(5):483-502 (May 1928)
Sunday Star, July 14, 1929, Part 7, Page 8.
"Sources of Early Washington's Water Supply," by John Clagett Proctor.
1932 "Water Supply System," by Major Joseph Dogan Arthur, Jr., Chapter 7 in Planning and Building the City of Washington, by Frederick Haynes Newell
1933 History and construction of the Potomac Aqueduct for the water supply of Washington, by J. L. Adams, January 13, 1933. This Thesis has been prepared and presented as a part of the Initiation of Tau Beta Pi.
History of Washington's Water Supply System," by Joseph Dogan
Arthur, Jr., Journal of the
American Water Works Association 25(8):1081-1083 (August 1933)
1934 History and construction of the aqueduct leading to McMillan Park, Washington, D.C. by Henry M. Chick.
1934 "History of the Water Supply of Washington," Philip Outerbridge Macqueen (unpublished manuscript)
Sunday Star, March 10, 1935, Part 4, Page F-2
"Springs and Pumps Once Furnished City Water"
John P. Van Ness, Lewis Morin, and John Sessford were appointed commissioners in 1809 to convey water from the City Spring to Pennsylvania Avenue and Twelfth Street in bored logs.
1939 The Washington Aqueduct, Water Supply, District of Columbia, War Department, United States Engineer Office, June, 1939
Evening Star, February 5, 1948, Page 30.
Pine-Log Water Main of Early 19th Century D.C. is Uncovered.
1949 Schmitt, Edwin A. and Philip O. Macqueen. "Washington Aqueduct." The Military Engineer, 41, May-June 1949, 205-10.
1952 A historical summary of the work of the Corps of Engineers in Washington, D.C. and vicinity, 1852-1952, by Sackett L. Duryee.
1953 History of the Washington Aqueduct, researched and prepared by Philip Outerbridge Macqueen.
1962 "Washington," from Public Water Supplies of the 100 Largest Cities in the United States, 1962, US Geological Survey Water Supply Paper 1812, by Charles Norman Durfor and Edith Becker
1966 Public Water System of the District of Columbia, April, 1966
War Department Topographical Bureau,
1831-1863: An Administrative History by Garry David Ryan,
Ph. D. Dissertation, Department of History, The American University, 1968
Page 42-43: In addition to his regular duties Roberdeau received a few special assignments from time to time, the nature and importance of which varied considerably. ... In 1822 he constructed "the Conduit at the President's house." [See 1822 letter from Macomb to Calhoun, above]
1970 Franklin Park, Washington D.C., by George J Olszewski, National Park Service, Office of History and Historic Architecture, Eastern Service Center, March 1970.
1973 Washington Aqueduct, National Historic Landmarks Program, by Ben Levy and Paul Ghito
1977 Washington, D. C.'s Vanishing Springs and
Waterways, by Garnett P. Williams, Geological
Survey Circular 752
1979 A city for the nation: The Army engineers
and the building of Washington, D.C., 1790-1967 by Albert
Page 13: In 1822 Roberdeau directed one of the earliest local Engineer civil works, installing cast iron pipes to bring water from a spring on K Street to the White House. [Note: The citations given for this statement have been misread and confuse the City of Washington's 1823 water pipe installation in the neighborhood east of the White House with the later 1832 federal installation of pipes serving the White House.]
1980 Water for the Future of the Nation's Capital Area
1983 "The Corps of Engineers U.S. Army and the Water Supply of Washington," by Robert J. Hellman (typewritten manuscript)
President's House: A History, Volume 1, by William Seale
Page 199: A bubbling spring at Franklin Square was purchased in 1832 by the commissioner of public buildings, with the idea of piping the water to the White House in "trunks" or wooden pipes made of drilled-out logs "for the purpose of supplying the President's House and public offices with drink and to fill reservoirs as security against fire." Not until the spring of 1833 did this intention take practical form. An Engineer named Robert Leckie was given the work.
Page 379: The second floor family quarters were used by the Lincolns much as they had been through the 1850s. The rooms now had the convenience of running river water for washing, ordered by Buchanan and installed in the spring of 1861, after the Lincoln's arrived. Marble-topped washstands with fancy-pained procelain sinks had been installed in all the rooms but the library; each with a single hydrant, which, when turned parallel to the wall was off and when swung out over the bowl flowed with cold Potomac River water.
1991 Washington Aqueduct Division, US Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, April 1991
Washington Aqueduct: 1852-1992, by Henry C. Ways
Page 1: Major Isaac Roberdreau of the Corps of Topographical Engineers supervised the installation of the first cast-iron pipes to bring spring water to the White House and the adjacent executive offices in 1822.
1997 Dalecarlia Water Treatment Plant, Historic American Engineering Record
1997 "Beneath the MCI Center: Insights into Washington's Historic Water Supply," by Julie D. Abell and Petar D. Glumac, Washington History 9(1):24-41 (Spring/Summer, 1997)
1998 The History of the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers, by Joe N. Ballard
Page 61: In 1822 Major Isaac Roberdeau, a topographical engineer, supervised the installatino of cast-iron pipes to bring spring water to the White House and executive offices around it.
1999 Drinking Water Supply in the
Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area: Prospects and Options for
the 21st Century, League of Women Voters of the
National Capital Area, Water Supply Task Force, February
2000 Court Cases & Documents Concerning Condemnation Proceedings for the Washington Aqueduct
2001 The White House and President's Park:
Administrative History 1791-1983 Epilogue 1983-1997,
National Park Service, December 2001
Page 58: Between 1819 and 1823 the commissioner's office managed approximately $18,000 of construction work at President's Park, including the laying of water pipes to the executive offices and the President's House and for "graduating and improving the President's Square."
Page 60: According to the commissioner's report for 1829, $22,510.88 was spent at the President's House that year. Both piped water and gaslights were considered for the President's House, but the plans were dropped as Jackson's inauguration approached.
Page 62: The commissioner of public buildings had purchased a spring at Franklin Square in 1831, with the intention of bringing water to the President's House in pipes made of drilled logs. Such improvements had been discussed as early as the Madison administration, but no action had been taken. By 1832 water had been piped to "the nearest offices," but not to the President's House. As late as 1833 much of the water for the White House still came from two capped pump wells in breezeways between the White House and the east and west terraces. In 1833 engineer Robert Leckie was hired, and three reservoirs were established behveen the War and Navy Buildings on the west and the Treasury and State Buildings on the east. Iron pipe was substituted for logs. Platforms, or "pedistals," with ornamental pumphouses were established at each of the reservoirs for the gravity flow system. River sand formed the bed for the reservoirs and filtered the water.
The pipes led from the pumphouses to the various buildings. A pump worker remained on site to work the hand pumps to generate enough pressure to push the water to various levels in the buildings. The system was in place by May 1833, but Leckie remained for nearly a year working out various problems. At first the system worked so poorly that it was of little help when the Treasury Building burned in March 1833. Hydrants were established in the Treasury and State Department basements, and the White House had at least two. Soon after the introduction of the water system, a
bathing room was built in the east wing of the White House with a hot bath, a cold bath, and a shower.
Page 73:  A reservoir with a double forcing pump was installed in the basement of the mansion to supply the upper floors with water.
Page 88:  Water now flowed in iron pipes from its source to the Capitol and from there along Pennsylvania Avenue to the President's House and the executive offices. The White House still received most of its water from the spring at Franklin Square, which had been purchased by the government some 20 years earlier.
Pages 102-103: In his annual report for 1855 [John] Blake recommended enclosing Franklin Square with an iron fence plus improvements for $21,000, as it still supplied President's Park water. Water also was obtained from the river.
Page 106: Few repairs were made to the presidential mansion in 1859; however river water was piped into the basement and grounds. The Franklin Square water source still served the upper stories.
Page 130: In 1874 [Orville E.] Babcock installed new plumbing in the White House. The pipes were encased in zinc to help prevent rodent migration to the upper floors through the pipe chases. ... New fire hydrants were installed on the grounds. ... At the White House a 2,184-gallon gravity water tank was installed in the attic.
Page 138:  A 4-inch water main 525 feet long, which supplied spring water to the Executive Mansion, was replaced with new pipe.
Page 139:  Water service to President's Park was upgraded. The White House continued to receive water from both a spring and the Potomac River. The river water entered the house from a 12-inch main in Pennsylvania Avenue. Use at the house was estimated at 6,650 gallons a day. The White House greenhouses and grounds used 4,800 gallons daily, supplied from the Pennsylvania Avenue main and a 4-inch main in 15th Street. The 3,600 gallons used daily for Lafayette Square came from the Pennsylvania Avenue main. All such water service remained the responsibility of the officer in charge.
Page 151: In 1889 the wooden water tank atop the White House was replaced by a 2,200-gallon iron tank weighing 4,300 pounds.
Page 166:  The spring at Franklin Square that supplied the White House with water now ran only in the late winter.
Page 194: On June 23, 1913, a total of $1,500 was spent to install an independent water supply to the White House for fire hydrants that were fed by a 6-inch cast-iron pressure pipe 731 feet long.
2001 "Mongomery C. Meigs and the Washington Aqueduct," by Harry C. Ways, pages 21-48 in Montgomery C. Meigs and the Building of the Nation's Capital, edited by William C. Dickinson, Dean A. Herrin, and Donald R. Kennon.
Vignette 059 - The Corps Has Helped Solve Urban Water Problems since
1824, U. S. Army Corps of Engineers
In 1824 Army engineers piped water from a spring on K Street to supply the White House, previously dependent on shallow wells.
2004 Washington Aqueduct National Historic Landmark Draft Application
2005 Franklin Park Cultural Landscape Inventory,
2005 Revised 2011
Page 19: 1897 The springs were closed because of fears concerning their vulnerability - and that of the White House drinking water - to poisoning by Spanish sympathizers in the days leading up to the Spanish-American War.
2009 "Alfred L. Rives and the Cabin John Bridge: Creating an Unprecedented 67m Masonry Arch at Mid-Nineteenth Century," by Dario A. Gasparini and David A. Simmons, Proceedings of the Third International Congress, session on Construction History, Cottbus, May 2009
2010 "Cabin John Bridge: Role of Alfred L. Rives, C.E.," by Dario A. Gasparini and David A. Simmons, Journal of Performance of Constructed Facilities, 24(2):188-203 (April 2010)
works & Potomac River pollution: the New Deal and the Blue Plains
Advanced Wastewater Treament Plant, by James W Moeller
2011 Capital engineers : the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers in the Development of Washington, D. C., 1790-2004,
by Pamela Scott
Page 31: In 1822, for example, when Congress appropriated funds for the installation of cast-iron pipes to carry water from the government-owned spring in Franklin Park to the executive buildings in the Presidentís Park, [Major Isaac] Roberdeau supervised the work. In 1830 a civil engineer employed by the Topographical Bureau made a pioneer study of Washington springs, and two years later Congress voted $45,700 to improve water service for the government by purchasing Smith Spring north of the city and piping its water to the Capitol.
Pages 39-46: Supplying Washington with Water [Summary of building the Washington Aqueduct, with numerous pictures.]
2014 Geoarcheological Investigation of Franklin Mall, Final Technical Report, March 2014
2014 "Beyond the Boundaries," Historical study of the Capital Hill area prepared for the Capitol Hill Restoration Society. Chapter 2, pages 66-115 includes some good information on the expansion of the water system into this area.
2015 Washington Metropolitan Area Water Supply Study Demand and Resource Availability Forecast for the Year 2040, Prepared by S.N. Ahmed, K.R. Bencala, and C.L. Schultz
2015 Reddall v. Bryan and the Role of State Law in Federal Eminent Domain Jurisprudence, by Shannon Frede
2016 "Washington, DC, just released the most detailed lead pipe map ever," by Sarah Frostenson, June 10, 2016, Vox | Interactive lead pipe map |
Aqueduct: Serving Our Nationís Capital for Over 150 Years," by
Alexander S. Gorzalski and Anne L. Spiesman Journal
of the American Water Works Association 108(2):40-47 (February
Page 41: The Franklin Park Spring, for example, was purchased to serve the White House and Treasury in 1816, and Smith Spring was purchased in 1833 and fed 12 fire hydrants on its way to the Capitol.
2016 The Origin of Washington's Water Supply, by Elliot Carter
2016 The Lydecker Tunnel Fiasco, by Elliot Carter
© 2016 Morris A. Pierce