Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography
Northwestern States
Iowa Burlington

Burlington, Iowa

Burlington was chartered as a city in 1838.

Charles Mason recognized the need for water works in Burlington as early as 1870, and spent several years working to convince the local common council and citizens to proceed with a system, which is told in an excellent 1967 article linked below.

The city awarded a 25-year exclusive water works franchise to the Burlington Water Company on July 17, 1877 to distribute water pumped from the Mississippi River.  The company contracted with the Holly Manufacturing Company to build a system in exchange for the company's bonds.  The system was designed by Thomas N. Boutelle and was demonstrated on June 1, 1878.  It included an upward flow filter that did not work very well.  The Iowa Supreme Court ordered the company to install a better filtration system in 1892 and they installed a Jewell Filter

After the company's franchise expired in 1902, the citizen did not have the financial resources to buy the company, so a group of local citizens formed the Citizen's Water Company to buy and operate the system for the benefit of the city..

After several attempts to buy the system, the finally city bought the system from the Citizens Water Company on May 1, 1943 by purchasing the outstanding stock and paying off the company's mortgage.

Water is supplied by the city of Burlington.

1877 "Water Works," Quad City Times, May 9, 1877, Page 4.
Burlington, Iowa, to get them at last.

1877 An ordinance to provide for the establishment of water works in the city of Burlington, July 17, 1877.

1878 The Burlington Water Co. v. Woodward, 49 Iowa 59, June 13, 1878, Supreme Court of Iowa

1878 "Burlington Bonds," The Des Moines Register, June 15, 1878, Page 2.
The case of the Water Company and the Mayor.

1878 "Burlington (Iowa) Water Works," Engineering News 5:197-199 (June 20, 1878) | pdf |

1878 The History of Des Moines County, Iowa
Pages 509-517:  The Burlington Water Company | pdf |

1879 "Burlington Water Works Scheme and Plan under Which They Were Constructed," Omaha Daily Herald, April 10, 1879, Page 8.
The Ordinance, Contract, Certificate of City Clerk and copy of Bond and Mortgage.

1879 "Water Motors," Burlington Daily Hawk Eye, November 19, 1879, Page 1.

1880 Report of the superintendent and secretary of the Burlington Water Works to the Burlington Water Company from acceptance of works, June 1st, 1878, to January 1st, 1880.

1881 Burlington, from Engineering News 8:342 (August 27,  1881)

1882 Burlington from "The Water-Supply of Certain Cities and Towns of the United States," by Walter G. Elliot, C. E., Ph. D.

1882 Commercial and Statistical Review of the City of Burlington, Iowa
Pages 48-49:  Water Works | pdf |

1888 "Burlington," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 1.

1890 "Burlington," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 2.

1891 "Burlington," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 3.

1892 City of Burlington v. Burlington Water Co., 86 Iowa 266, October 18, 1892, Iowa Supreme Court
The company was ordered to install filtration at its own expense.

1896 "The Jewell Mechanical Water Filter in 19 Cities," Engineering News 35:354-359 (May 18, 1896)
Page 356:  Burlington, Ia.

1897 The Jewell water filter gravity and pressure systems, by O.H. Jewell Filter Company
Pages 60-65:  Jewell Filter Plant at Burlington, Ia.

1897 "Burlington," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 4.

1902 An ordinance to provide for the improvement, maintenance and operation of the system of water works now existing in the City of Burlington, Iowa.  October 10, 1902.

1903 An Ordinance amending an .ordinance' entitled "An ordinance establishing and defining the water district of the City of Burlington, Iowa." September 4, 1903.

1905 Ordinances of the City of Burlington, Iowa, October 1, 1905.

1915 "The Burlington Water Supply," Fire and Water Engineering 58:29 (July 14, 1915)

1927 "The Franchise of the Citizens Water Company, Burlington, Iowa," by Francis D. H. Lawlor, Journal of the American Water Works Association 17(1):75-78 (January 1927)

1943 An act to legalize proceedings of the city of Burlington, Iowa, with respect to the acquisition by said city of a municipal water works plant and system and the issuance of revenue bonds to pay for same, and providing for the creation of a board of water commissioners to manage and control the operation of such system.  March 19, 1943.

1948 The quest for pure water; the history of water purification from the earliest records to the twentieth century, by Moses Nelson Baker
Page 250:  Upward-Flow Filter at Burlington, Iowa, 1878.  Designed and built by T. N. Boutelle, Engineer (with illustration)

1963 "Biography of an Iowa Businessman:  Charles Mason, 1804-1882," by Willard Irving Toussaint, A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of History in the Graduate College of the State University of Iowa, August, 1963

1967 "'The Fire Fiend Doffs His Hat:' Burlington's First Water Works," by Willard I. Toussaint, Annals of Iowa 38(7):510-526 (Winter 1967) | pdf |

2020 Morris A. Pierce