Documentary History of American Water-works

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

Dixon, Illinois

Dixon was incorporated as a city in 1859.

The water power company installed a water-driven rotary pump in 1869 to provide fire protection for the manufactories.  This was taken over by the city the following year and a hose company was established..

A water-works franchise was awarded on July 18, 1883 to Andrew H. McNeal, owner of the McNeal Pipe & Foundry of Burlington, New Jersey.  McNeal also obtained a franchise in Mattoon later in 1883.

The system was demonstrated and accepted by the city in April 1884, and the Dixon Water Company was incorporated on April 21, 1884.  McNeal then transferred the franchise to the new company.

Dixon Water Works, diagram showing location of Mains, Hydrants, etc.
Dixon Sun, October 17, 1883, Page 1.

The city was not pleased with the water company's service, and stopped paying hydrant rentals in 1888, at which point the company shut off the water.  The company's mortgage was foreclosed in 1890 and it was sold to a group of local investors.

The city bought the water company in December, 1956 for $800,000..

Water is provided by the city of Dixon.

1883 "Water-Works Ordinance," The Dixon Sun, July 25, 1883, Page 5.

1883 "Mattoon, Ills. Water-Works," Engineering News 10:583 (December 1, 1883)
Water works franchise to A. H. McNeal, of Burlington, New Jersey.

1884 "New Business Enterprises," The Inter Ocean (Chicago, Illinois), April 22, 1884, Page 2.
April 21.  The Dixon Water Company at Dixon; capital stock, $125,000; incorporators, Sanford S. Murphy, Henry Raeder and John Donnelly.

1885 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Dixon, Lee County, Illinois. July 1885

1888 "Our Water Works," Dixon Evening Telegraph, March 16, 1888, Page 1.

1888 "Dry Announcement," Dixon Evening Telegraph, April 25, 1888, Page 1.
The Dixon Water Company has served the following notice upon the City Council, threatening to shut down the works if the hydrant rental is not paid. 

1888 Dixon Evening Telegraph, May 1, 1888, Page 1. | Part 2 | Part 3|
Threats to shut down water works.

1888 "Water-Supply Shut Off," Chicago Tribune, June 17, 1888, Page 2.
The Dixon Water Company shut off the water this evening, leaving the city with no fire protection.

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

1889 "The Dixon Water Co.," The Inter Ocean, June 18, 1889, Page 10.
The American Loan and Trust Company of New York filed a bill in the United States Circuit Court yesterday to foreclose a mortgage given by the Dixon Water Company.

1889 Dixon Sun, December 4, 1889, Page 1.
Package containing $80,000 in water bonds received by A. K. Trusdell.

1890 "Federal Court Doings," The Inter Ocean, January 4, 1890, Page 6.
Judgment against Dixon Water Company for $90,401.06.

1890 Dixon Evening Telegraph, January 6, 1890, Page 1.
Dixon Water Company proceedings.

1890 "Sale of the Dixon Water Works," Chicago Herald, March 28, 1890, Page 9
Under the foreclosure of a mortgage held by the American Loan and Trust Company against the Dixon Water Company the master in chancery sold the company's plant to A. K. Trusdell, attorney of the mortgagees for $80,000, the amount claimed.

1890 "Council Meeting," Dixon Evening Telegraph, April 5, 1890, Page 1.
Statement by Jas. A Hawley, J. D. Crabtree, and Jno. Wasley, new owners of the Dixon Water Company.

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

1891 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Dixon, Lee County, Illinois. September 1891

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

1897 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Dixon, Lee County, Illinois. August 1897

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

1902 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Dixon, Lee County, Illinois. December 1902

1904 Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois
Page 673:  Dixon Water works - During the winter of 1871-2 water mains were laid, from a rotary pump which had been installed at the water power, extending to the corner of Galena and First Streets, at a cost of $600.
July 18, 1883, the city granted a franchise to Alex. H. McNeal. S. S. Murphy was his agent and the real projector of the enterprise. The Dixon Water Works Company was incorporated May 10, 1884, with a capital of $75,000, to take over the McNeal franchise. The capital was reduced to $60,000, June 28, 1890. The duration of the franchise was thirty years. The company is now operating under this franchise. The works were in operation in 1884. Bonds were issued to the extent of the capital, and the mortgage securing them was ultimately foreclosed in the United States Court, Chicago, and sale made to the bondholders; but before the deed was issued, A. K. Trusdell, J. D. Crabtree, J. A. Hawley and S. S. Murphy purchased the works. The first officers under the new management were: J. D. Crabtree, President; J. A. Hawley, Secretary and Treasurer; Jno. Wasley, superintendent. This was continued until after Mr. Hawley's death, when, on May 9, 1899, his son, Geo. Hawley, succeeded his father as director and A. K. Trusdell was made President and J. D. Crabtree, Secretary and Treasurer. After Judge Crabtree’s death, his son, John B., succeeded him as Director and also as Secretary and Treasurer; and the organization so stands at this date.
The water is obtained from three flowing artesian wells, which draw their supply from water-bearing rock (St. Peter‘s sandstone). In the winter of 1890-91 two wells were put down, one to a depth of 1600 feet, the other to a depth of 1650 feet. In 1894 another was sunk to a depth of 1700 feet. By these wells an ample supply of superior water for all purposes is assured. As originally constructed the water was pumped directly from the river. The main carrying the water across the river rests on the bed of the stream a short distance below the Galena Street bridge.
The water is distributed to consumers through about fifteen miles of mains, on which are 165 hydrants for fire protection. The consumers number about one hundred. The actual average pumpage in twenty-tour hours is about 2,500,000 gallons. The natural flow from the wells into the reservoir at the works is 600 to 700 gallons per minute. The capacity of the reservoir is a half million gallons, and of the standpipe near the cemetery, 270,000 gallons. Analysis of the water shows: The total solids in a gallon, 17.5875 grains, distributed in grains and fractions of a grain, thus: Silica, .6424; oxide of aluminum and iron, .2219; carbonate of lime, 7.8006; carbonate of magnesia, 7.5154; chloride of sodium, 1.3472.

1906 Revised and Compiled Ordinances of the City of Dixon, County of Lee and State of Illinois
Pages 169-175: Dixon Water Company and Water Rates, January 5, 1906.
Pages 320-328:  1883 water works ordinance and rates

1910 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Dixon, Lee County, Illinois. May 1910

1911 "Waterworks Litigation," Fire and Water Engineering 50:108 (August 9, 1911)
The Dixon, Ill. Brewing Company, whose plant was destroyed by fire on April 16, is suing the city of Dixon and the Dixon Water Company for $50,000 damages.  The directors of the company allege the loss of the plant was due to lack of water pressure at the time of the fire.  The service of the water company, which is owned by private interests, it is alleged, has been inadequate for the needs of the city for some years, and after all bad fire the fire department has complained of lack of pressure and water.  The water company says it will sell the plant.  The city took possession of the water-works some years ago, placed a new engineer in charge and refused to pay water rental until better service was rendered.

1913 "Dixon Water Franchise," Dixon Evening Telegraph, June 25, 1913, Page 6.

1918 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Dixon, Lee County, Illinois. August 1918

1920 The Public Utilities Commission ex rel. The Dixon Water Company, Appellee, vs. The City of Dixon, Appellant, 292 Ill. 521, April 21, 1920, Supreme Court of Illinois

1947 The history of the Dixon Water Company, compiled by Lucile M. Warner (Mrs. Henry C.) and read before the Lee County Historical Society January 27, 1947.
In 1869 the Water Power Company which operated several mills on the river bank put in a rotary pump with a rated  capacity of 1200 gallons per minutes - about the double the capacity of a first class steam engine.  This pump and 600 feet of hose were intended to be used for the manufacturing establishments only.  In the 1880 disaster this equipment was destroyed early in the fire and of little use.

1956 "An Ordinance," Dixon Evening Telegraph, October 1, 1956, Page 11.
Water revenue bonds and agreement to buy Dixon Water Company.

1956 "Purchase of the Dixon Water Co.," Dixon Evening Telegraph, December 18, 1956, Page 6.

1998 Dixon, Illinois, by Bob Gibler
The Dixon Water Works was constructed in 1884, and financed chiefly through bonds, which were sold to out-of-state investors.  The water company suffered extensive losses in the first few years and brought about foreclosure from investors.  Following the shutdown, local residents from Dixon formed a stock holding company and purchased the water plant.

© 2019 Morris A. Pierce