Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography
North Central States
Illinois DeKalb

DeKalb, Illinois

DeKalb was incorporated as a village in 1856 and as a city in 1877.

The village dug an artesian well around 1875, and after several fires contracted with George C. Morgan of Chicago to build a 60,000 gallon elevated wooden water tank and pipes to distribute the water to the business section.  Water was pumped into the tank with a windmill and steam engine.

Water is provided by the city of DeKalb.


References
1876 The Voters and Tax-payers of De Kalb County, Illinois, by Henry F. Katt
Page 112:  Village and City of DeKalb

1878 "DeKalb's Water Works," The Inter Ocean (Chicago, Illinois), June 21, 1878, Page 5.
The fast that our city has during the past two years been twice visited by disastrous fires has awakened use to the necessity of an adequate water supply.  Several years ago we sunk an artesan well to the depth of 2,600 feet.  The water rises nearly to the surface, but does not overflow.  The City Council have determined to establish several immense elevated tanks near the well, to be filled by power pumps.  From these tanks water pipes will be laid to the business part of the city (some four blocks distant) giving a fifty-feet head.  Fire Marshal L. Wheeler is now receiving bids for the work, and as soon as the right man with the right plan and suitable is if found the work will be commenced.

1878 "Water-Works," Chicago Tribune, November 16, 1878, Page 8.
George C. Morgan & Co., of Chicago, have contracted for and are now constructing a system of Water-Works upon plans and specifications furnished by them for the City of De Kalb, Ill.

1878 Daily Register (Rockford, Illinois), November 30, 1878, Page 2.
The DeKalb Water Works will be completed by December 15.

1879 The DeKalb Chronicle, April 1, 1879, Page 5.
The water works are all right again, and still some people swear.

1880 Mattoon Gazette, May 21, 1880, Page 5.
The DeKalb water works cost $33,644 - elevated tank system.

1882 DeKalb, Engineering News, 9:155-156 (May 13, 1882)

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

1885 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from De Kalb, De Kalb County, Illinois. October 1885

1886 The DeKalb Chronicle, September 18, 1886, Page 5.
The windmill at the water works is to be sold by the city.

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

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

1891 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from De Kalb, De Kalb County, Illinois. October 1891

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

1893 The DeKalb Chronicle, September 2, 1893, Page 4.
DeKalb is pumping from 108,000 to 122,000 gallons of water per day.

1894 "A test of the Pohle Air-Lift Pump at De Kalb, Ill.," by L. B. Merriam, Engineering News 32:27  (July 12, 1894)

1895 "The De Kalb Electrical Pumping Plant," by Daniel W. Mead, Read before the Society, May 14, 1895, Journal of the Association of Engineering Societies 15(2):83-112 (August, 1895)

1895 "Electric Power Pumps for Water Works," by John M. Goodell, Engineering News 34:198 (September 26, 1895)

1895 "The Electric Pumping Plant at De Kalb, Ill," by Daniel W Mead," Engineering News 34:227-230 (October 3, 1895)

1897 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from De Kalb, De Kalb County, Illinois. October 1897

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

1905 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from De Kalb, De Kalb County, Illinois. January 1905

1912 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from De Kalb, De Kalb County, Illinois. August 1912

1915 Chemical and Biologial Survey of the Waters of Illinois
Page 56:  DeKalb.  Water Supply.  Waterworks were installed about 1875, when 3 deep wells were put down in the southern part of the city, one to a depth of 2,400 feet.

1941 "Development of De Kalb's Water Works," by F. E. Peterson, Public Works 72:23-24 (March, 1941)
De Kalb's public water supply was installed in 1875.

1956 "New System Had Interest," The Daily Chronicle (DeKalb, Illinois), June 8, 1956, Page 93.
DeKalb Gets Publicity all over World on its Water works. 
The first steps taken for furnishing our city with a water supply were in the year 1872.

1956 "Water Supply is Plentiful," The Daily Chronicle (DeKalb, Illinois), June 8, 1956, Page 98.
The public water supply in DeKalb was installed about 1875.

1956 Centennial, Dekalb, Illinois: DeKalb, 1856-1956 Progress Unlimited
Page 35:  Waterworks. A system of waterworks was installed early in the history of DeKalb. In the early 1870's about 1872 or 1875 a well was dug in Huntley Park and a system of mains laid. This water-works system is said to be the thirteenth system to be installed in the state of Illinois.
A windmill was used for pumping and a round tank on stilts was built for a reservoir. This equipment served until a steam pump was installed and the windmill sold in September of 1886.
Due to the demand for water for a growing population a standpipe was authorized to be erected in Huntley Park on February 12, 1889. This measure and all of the following ordinances of the city council pertaining to the standpipe passed by a majority of one vote.
The standpipe was finished on September 20, 1889 and the opposition claimed it could not be filled. The city engineer turned on the pumps and after six days had the 242,000 gallon tank overflowing.
It served its time and was replaced by a new elevated tank on July 2. 1952. The Huntley Park tank was drained October 30, 1952 61 years after its completion.
In 1951 and 1952 extensions to the system were made costing $550,000 which was covered by revenue bonds.
This is a far cry from the .story in 1889 when 900 customers paid $6,500 for water and the city had only 14 miles of mains.

1981 "Waterworks installed in 1870's," The Daily Chronicle (DeKalb, Illinois), June 26, 1981, Page 33.
In about 1872 or 1875 a well was dug in Huntley Park and a system of mains was laid.
A windmill was used for pumping and a round tank on stilts was built for a reservoir.  This equipment served until a steam pump was installed and the windmill sold in September, 1886.
A standpipe was authorized on February 12, 1889 and finished on September 20, 1889.



 


2017 Morris A. Pierce