Documentary History of American Water-works

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

Sycamore, Illinois

Sycamore was incorporated as a village in 1858 and as a city in 1869.

The city built water works in 1876 that used steam engines to pump water directly into the mains.  The system was expanded in 1888 and a standpipe was built in the middle of the intersection of Main and State Streets with several adjacent buildings.   Several adjacent property owners filed suit against the city, which made its way to the Illinois Supreme Court.

A 200,000 gallons elevated water tank was built next to the pumping station south of the Chicago and Great Western Railroad tracks and the standpipe was removed in 1904.  The city signed a ten-year contract with the DeKalb-Syracuse Electric Company to dig a new well and pump water into the city's distribution network.

The city built a new 750,000 gallon water tank around 1962 and a second 1.5 million gallons tank was added in 2009.

Water is provided by the city of Sycamore.




1888 Standpipe, from Nostalgia and glee in Sycamore, Illinois, by C. R. McLagan Early 1900s Water Tower from "Don't Cut Me Down," The Daily Chronicle (DeKalb, Illinois), September 9, 1980, Page 2. 2009 Elevated Water Storage Tank
(1.5 million gallons)


References
1882 Sycamore 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 Sycamore, De Kalb County, Illinois. October 1885

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

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

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

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

1894 Sarah J. Barrows v. The City of Sycamore, 150 Ill. 588, June 19, 1894, Supreme Court of Illinois
The erection of a standpipe or water works in a public street, near the buildings along the street, is an unlawful use of such street, and the manner of operating it, or its dimensions, affect only the question of damage to property holders.

1896 "Stand-Pipe Suits," Daily Register-Gazette (Rockford, Illinois), May 6, 1896, Page 1.
Verdict for large damages over a street location.

1896 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Sycamore, De Kalb County, Illinois. November 1896

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

1900 "Freezing Causes Damage," Daily Register-Gazette (Rockford, Illinois), January 8, 1900, Page 3.
Expansion in the Sycamore Standpipe Bursts Off the Head.

1901 Mary Doyle v. The City of Sycamore, 193 Ill. 501 December 18, 1901, Supreme Court of Illinois

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

1909 Revised and Compiled Ordinances of the City of Sycamore, County of Dekalb and State of Illinois
Pages 105-112:  Water and Water Works, including rates
Page 112:  Water Contract between the DeKalb-Sycamore Electric Company and the City of Sycamore, November 3, 1902

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

1950 "Sycamore Water Tower Filed Thursday," The Daily Chronicle (DeKalb, Illinois), June 23, 1950, Page 6.
Replacement of the 200,000 gallons of water drained out June 7.  Approximately 178 feet high.

1960 Nostalgia and glee in Sycamore, Illinois, by C. R. McLagan
Page 7: Of course that 135 foot water tower was yet standing at the intersection of State and Main Streets
Page 112:  First City Water System Come Here Over Objections to Expense and Tower
The tower above is the most prominent feature of Sycamore's first city water system,, It was erected in 1888 over vehement objections of many citizens. The objectors argued that it wasn't necessary and also that the town's beauty would be ruined by the proposed unsightly tower. Some felt that 135 foot high tower would be a menace to life and property. They argued, too, that their home wells were serving quite satisfactorily and it was, therefore, unnecessary to spend all that money. Finally it was brought to a vote, the proposal carried, and the tower was built at the intersection of State and Main Streets.
Among the hundreds of fascinating photos that appeared during Sycamore's wonderful centennial observance in 1958, was one taken shortly before the water tower was dismantled in 1904.
The silo-shaped tower was constructed of thick steel plate. The writer remembers that he was so afraid of that thing in the winter that he would go many blocks out of his way to avoid being near it. The tank overflowed almost every day and water seeped in between the plates and froze. Quite often the expansion and contraction caused a plate to break with a resounding crash that jarred a little more water out the top. "Luke" feared that one day the entire tank would collapse and drown everyone in town. His First Movie
"Luke" recalls that his late father, William McLagan, was taking him to see his first movie in Sycamore history one bitter cold winter night in 1904. Just as the two were leaving their home, one of the steel plates banged off causing "Luke" to let loose with a wail of fear. Rather than take the direct route up State Street, he insisted that they make the trip via Page Street and California Street.

1962 "Sycamore Council Hears Debate on Water Tower," Morning Star (Rockford, Illinois), January 9, 1962, Page 3.
Bids for new 500,000 or 750,000 gallons tank.

1980 "Don't Cut Me Down," The Daily Chronicle (DeKalb, Illinois), September 9, 1980, Page 2.
Demise of the old Sycamore water tower

1998 "Sycamore Faces Water, Sewer Woes," The Daily Chronicle (DeKalb, Illinois), July 14, 1998, Page 1. | Part 2 |
Sycamore's water tower holds about 750,000 gallons, but daily usage hits more than a million gallons a day.

2007 Sycamore, by Phyllis Kelley and the Joiner History Room Staff
Page 19:  The 135-foot standpipe and a pumping station furnished water for the city of Syracuse from 1888 to 1903.  It stood prominently in the wide intersection of State and Main Streets.  After the standpipe was removed, a decorative fountain was paced in this location.



2017 Morris A. Pierce