Documentary History of American Water-works

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North Central States
Illinois Morrison

Morrison, Illinois

Morrison was incorporated as a city in 1869.

The first water works used a windmill to pump water into an elevated wooden tank that could hold 90,000 gallons.  This tank burst on November 4, 1874, destroying the windmill.  A new direct pressure system was then installed, with the tank used as backup for fire protection.

Water is provided by the city of Morrison.

1874 Bloomington Pantagraph, November 7, 1874, Page 1.
Bursting of Morrison water tank.

1874 Dixon Sun, November 11, 1874, Page 1.
The Morrison Water works are gone, busted, collapsed, evaporated.

1877 History of Whiteside county, Illinois, from its first settlement to the present time, by Charles Bent
Pages 311-312:  The water problem is one that is important in most cities, and is a question of vital importance for many reasons. Not only for every-day domestic use, but for manufacturing purposes and the extinguishment of fire. The water question has, from the origin of the town, been of peculiar interest to Morrison, as the supply had to come from wells sunk to great depths, and cisterns. It was the importance of the question that caused a public meeting to be held March 7, 1868, when the citizens authorized the Board of Trustees to bore an artesian well, and for that purpose asked that $3,000 in bonds be issued, the contract not to be let until the bonds were taken. The contract was finally let to Mr. Joseph Shirk, who, under many difficulties, bored to the depth of 1,200 feet. The water ai-ose within about 20 feet of the mouth of the well, where it still stands, and furnishes water in ample quantity to supply the town. Mr. Shirk's bill for boring the well was $3 per foot for the first 600 feet, $4 per foot for the next 400 feet, and $7 per foot for the last 200 feet. Pipes were laid from the well, and a tank capable of holding 90,000 gallons was erected where a supply of water was to be kept in case of fire. One of the largest sized wind-mills was provided for pumping purposes, but was not entirely successful. In November, 1874, the tank burst when containing about 75,000 gallons of water. The flood of water caused considerable damage to surrounding property, and the wind-mill was wrecked. After this a new plan was adopted, a powerful steam engine procured, and two pumps, one a Blake and the other a Dean, are used for pumping. The entire arrangement is upon the Holly plan. The tank is still used for a water reserve in case of fire. The capacity of the pumps is about 1,200 gallons a minute. Water mains with fire plugs are distributed through the principal business parts of the town, furnishing an unlimited supply of water for daily use and the extinguishment of fire. Morrison has a well drilled and equipped fire company provided with about 1,500 feet of hose, hose cart, and other necessary fixtures. Mr. H. S. Ferguson is foreman. The company was organized in 1876, since which time it has several times responded to the alarm of fire with good effect; at the time of the burning of the lock-up, in 1876, when a prisoner named Thomas Gaffey was burned to death, the company, by their promptness and the help of the excellent water works, saved much valuable property. The present system of water works have cost the city about $10,000.

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

1884 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Morrison, Whiteside County, Illinois. November 1884

1885 Portrait and biographical album of Whiteside County, Illinois
Pages 921-922:  Water Works

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

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

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

1892 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Morrison, Whiteside County, Illinois. December 1892

1897 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Morrison, Whiteside County, Illinois. August 1897

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

1903 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Morrison, Whiteside County, Illinois. January 1903

1908 History of Whiteside County, Illinois from Its Earliest Settlement to 1908: Illustrated, with Biographical Sketches of Some Prominent Citizens of the County, Volume I, by William W. Davis
Pages 304-305:  The Water Works.  A strong crystal spring, dug up and walled in 1881, was the beginning of the water supply. An artesian well was bored in 1896 to the depth of 1,645 feet, yielding a daily flow of 300,000 gallons. In 1906 four drive wells, six inches wide and 75 feet deep, were sunk to supplement the artesian supply. One pump has a capacity of a million gallons daily, the other a million and a quarter. The standpipe, a conspicuous landkark on the hill on the north side, is 35 feet in diameter and 45 feet high. Surrounding the works is a natural park of nine acres, the trees forming a dense shade, furnished with seats, offering a tempting resort in the sultry days of summer. As you approach the plant is a triangular lawn, embellished with a fountain. I. H. Parrish has been the efficient engineer for nineteen years.
The new pump which was installed last year furnishes 175 pounds pressure and this is enough to force water to the top of any of the buildings now standing in Morrison.

1912 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Morrison, Whiteside County, Illinois. August 1912


2019 Morris A. Pierce