Documentary History of American Water-works

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North Central States
Indiana Evansville

Evansville, Indiana

Evansville was incorporated as a city in1847.

The city built a Holly water system that began service on June 1, 1872 with  steam-driven gang and rotary pumps.  A Gaskill pumping engine was added in 1880. 

A new plant was built in 1900 and was the subject of a dispute between Indiana and Kentucky over the location of the state line, which was resolved in favor of Indiana.

Water is supplied by the city of Evansville Water and Sewer Utility, which has a history page.

1866 "Water Works Meeting," The Evansville Daily Journal, April 18, 1866, Page 8.

1866 The Evansville Daily Journal, April 20, 1866, Page 8.
For the benefit of all concerned, we will state that the subscription papers for the Evansville Water Works Company, are at His Honor, the Mayor's office.  An invitation is extended to all to come forward and take stock.

1866 "Water Works," The Evansville Daily Journal, December 3, 1866, Page 4.

1870 "Agitation of the Water Works Question," The Evansville Daily Journal, February 1, 1870, Page 4.
Letter from the Holly Manufacturing Company read to the city council.

1870 "Holly Water Works," The Evansville Daily Journal, February 3, 1870, Page 2.

1870 "Water Works," The Evansville Daily Journal, March 4, 1870, Page 2.
Visit by agent of the Holly Manufacturing Company

1870 "Water Works - What they will Cost," The Evansville Daily Journal, March 21, 1870, Page 2.
Holly system estimate by W. C. Weir

1870 "Water Works - An Address to the People," The Evansville Daily Journal, May 11, 1870, Page 2.

1870 The Indianapolis News, June 28, 1870, Page 1.
The City Council of Evansville has voted an election on the proposition to take three hundred thousand dollars stock in the Evansville and Indianapolis Straight Line Railroad, and to contract with W.C. Weir and the Holly Manufacturing Company to furnish the Holly water works for one hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars.

1870 "Water Works Contract," Evansville Daily Journal, July 7, 1870, Page 2.

1870 Evansville Daily Journal, July 12, 1870, Page 2.
This page includes several articles on the water works system.

1870 "The Water Works Swindle," The Evansville Daily Journal, July 20, 1870, Page 1.

1871 "Slander Refuted," The Portsmouth Times, December 30, 1871, Page 3.
The  following dispatch was sent from Evansvllle, Ind.,on the 18th inst., to the  Associated Press, which is emphatically denied by the editor of the Courier of  that  place, as will be seen belowó
"On Monday night  the following  dispatch  was sent from  Evansville:
"The  council  to-night  cancelled the contract with W. C. Weir for the erection of the water-works for alleged  gross neglect  and  incompetence.  Weir was engineer of the Holly Manufacturing company, of Rochester, New York, when the contract was let.
"The above  does not  contain a single word of truth. The contract with  W.C. Weir  & Co., was not cancelled, and the resolutions adopted upon that  subject do not say a word concerning "incompetence."   Mr. Weir was not  the "engineer of the Holly Manufacturing company," and that company does not have an establishment at Rochester. The whole story is ridiculous in the extreme, and we  notice it for the  purpose of showing the public how utterly unreliable the news dispatches of the associated press have become.
"We call upon Colonel Foster for a remedy of this evil. If the dispatches sent  abroad from Evansville cannot be truthful we had better have none sent."

1872 The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, January 30, 1872, Page 1.
The Holly water works were started at Evansville, Ind., on Sunday, and promise well.

1872 "Fall of Evansville Water Works Building," The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, April 30, 1872, Page 1.

1872 "Water Works Ordinances," The Evansville Daily Journal, June 5, 1872, Page 1.
Water rates, etc..

1880 The Owensboro Messenger, November 19, 1880, Page 3.
New machinery has just been added to the Evansville water-works and there will be an official test on Tuesday next.

1880 Panoramic View of Evansville, Ind., the water works pumping plant is # 149.

1881 Evansville Water Works: Report of the Expert on the Contract Trials of the Gaskill Compound Pumping Engine Built by the Holly Manufacturing Company, Lockport, N.Y., February, 1881, by John Willmuth Hill

1882 Evansville, from Engineering News 9:373 (October 28, 1882) 

1882 Robinson v. The City of Evansville, 87 Ind. 334, November Term, 1882, Supreme Court of Indiana
A city authorized to maintain and maintaining water-works and a fire department, and collecting taxes for that purpose, is not responsible for the negligence of its fire department in permitting the property of a citizen to be burned.

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

1885 The Owensboro Messenger, October 22, 1885, Page 2.
A New York man has offered $200,000 for the Evansville water-worls.  If what the papers say is true this is about four times as much as the works are really worth.  Evansville had better sell, and apply the money to reducing her onerous debt.

1886 "Evansville Water Works Sued," The Daily News (Lebanon, Pennsylvania), January 18, 1886, Page 1.
Indianapolis, Jan. 18. - James G. Goodwin, of Hartford, has brought suit in the United States court to foreclose a mortgage for $300,000 on the Evansville water works, the interest on the bonds of which, it is alleged, is long overdue, amounting now to about $5,000 additional to the face of the mortgage.

1886 The Fort Wayne Sentinel, February 5, 1886, Page 1.
The Evansville water works passed from the management of the city council Monday to municipal trustees, after a long and stubborn contest.

1886 The Fort Wayne Sentinel, August 10, 1886, Page 4.
The Evansville water-works are in a deplorable condition, and three fires within the past ten days have made it known to the entire population, who are now living in dread of being at the mercy of the flames in case of a fire in the thickly settled portion of the city.

1887 "Scarcity of Coal at Evansville," Chicago Tribune, September 17, 1887, Page 5.
It is stated on good authority that the Evansville water works will be compelled to commence using coke in a day or two.

1888 Perspective Map of the City of Evansville, Ind., shows the water works pumping station

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

1889 History of Vanderburgh County, Indiana: From the Earliest Times to the Present
Pages 190-191 Water-works.   Evansville built her own water-works in 1871 at a first cost of $300,000, to which has been added since something over $180,000, making the total cost over $480,000. The first plan, owing to the rapid growth of the city, soon became inadequate to supply the ever-increasing demand, and additions have several times been made, the last in 1882, when the capacity of the pumps was nearly doubled. No more striking evidence of the growth of the industrial enterprises and the population of Evansville is afforded than the fact that the water capacity, thus increased only six years ago, is now taxed to its utmost to keep up the supply.
The system in use is the Holly system, the machinery having been furnished by the Holly Manufacturing Company of Lockport, N. Y. Thert are thirty-eight miles of mains, with a pumping capacity per day of 5,000,000 gallons. There are 1,549 consumers. Under this system water is now used for fire purposes, delivered from the plugs under direct pressure from the main pumps at the water-works station. The water-works supply, for all purposes, 1,460,000,000 gallons annually, or within twenty percent of the full capacity of the pumps. The property is located on Upper Water street between Oak and Mulberry, fronting 225 feet and running back to the Ohio river at low water mark, about 700 feet. The building is a brick and stone structure three stories high, built in the modern French style of architecture with a mansard roof and a tower observatory. The building was received from the contractors by the city council, June 1, 1872. The trustees since 1885, when the management of the works was entrusted to a board of trustees, have been: John Haney, M. Moran, Fred Baker, James Taylor, Henry F. Froelich, and Alexander Jack, the three last named constituting the present board of trustees, with Noah Riggs as clerk.

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

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

1894 Annual Report of the Mayor and Officers of the City of Evansville to the Common Council, for the year ending April 9, 1894.

1896 Indiana v. Kentucky, 163 U.S. 520, May 18, 1896, United States Supreme Court

1896 "An Old Question Settled," Owensboro Daily Tribune, May 20, 1896, Page 1.
Boundary line dispute between Indiana and Kentucky settled by U.S. Supreme Court.  New Evansville water works plant is in Indiana.

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

1900 "New Evansville Pumping Station," Engineering Record 41:429 (May 5, 1900)
The New Evansville Pumping Station is now ready for use, after nearly five years' work and frequent annoying delays caused by high water. The station is the first portion of a new system of Works which were undertaken on account of a typhoid fever epidemic in 1895; the second portion, a filter plant, is now under discussion. The well, pumping plant and accessory works now completed were designed by Mr. Charles Hermany, M. Am. Soc. C. E., chief engineer of the Louisville Water Company. The well was sunk by means of a caisson 75 feet in diameter, using compressed air for most of its descent; the inside diameter of the well is 53 feet and the masonry wall is 4 to 11 feet thick. Three intake pipes, 30 inches in diameter, run out to deep water from the bottom of the Well. They are hung from trestles and end in sections perforated with 54 inch holes bushed with brass. The pumping station is built on an artificial mound containing 67,000 cubic yards of earth rolled in 4-inch layers. The 70 x 70-foot boiler room contains three 250-horse-power Stirling boilers, with room for a fourth. The 90 x 90-foot engine room contains two 10,000,000-gallon triple-expansion Holly pumping engines, with provision for a third. The surface condensers for these engines are placed in the suction pipes. A conspicuous feature of the station is the steel stack rising 200 feet above the ground. The new works will have cost about $430,000 when all the outstanding accounts are closed.

1902 The Owensboro Messenger, March 9, 1902, Page 5.
The Evansville water works plan is on an island and the operators have to take a boat ride when they go to work and return home.

1904 "Evansville Water Works Threatened," Chicago Tribune, February 6, 1904, Page 11.
The building of the water works plant at Evansville, Ind., has been so undermined by the river that it is expected to collapse.  Should this happen the city will be seriously crippled as to fire protection.

1905 "Negligence of Municipality," The Green Bag 17(2):125-126 (February, 1905)
Aschoff v. City of Evansville, suit to recover damages for flooding of plaintiff's cellar by reason of the bursting of a water main.

1906 Annual Report of the Board of Water Works Trustees for the year ending December 31, 1906.

1909 "Evansville Mechanical Filters," by F. H. Stephenson, Municipal Journal and Engineer 26(22):988-991 (June 2, 1909)

1910 Sanborn Map of Evansville, 1900 pumping station is #205

1912 "The New Pumping Installation of the City of Evansville, Ind.," Engineering News 68:464-466 (September 12, 1912)

1916 Annual Report of the Board of Water Works Trustees for the year ending December 31, 1916.

1917 Annual Report of the Board of Water Works Trustees for the year ending December 31, 1917.

1918 Annual Report of the Board of Water Works Trustees for the year ending December 31, 1918.

1919 "Hire Expert to Stop Big Water Waste," Evansville Press, August 26, 1919, Page 8.
Accepted offer of Pitometer company

1919 Annual Report of the Board of Water Works Trustees for the year ending December 31, 1919.

1920 Annual Report of the Board of Water Works Trustees for the year ending December 31, 1920.

1921 Annual Report of the Board of Water Works Trustees for the year ending December 31, 1921.

1922 Annual Report of the Board of Water Works Trustees for the year ending December 31, 1922.

1923 "Evansville Water Works Plant Will be Enlarged," The Indianapolis Star, July 22, 1923, Page 3.

1923 "Filtration and Chlorine versus Typhoid Fever," by Charles Streithof, The American City 26:507-508 (November, 1923)

1923 Annual Report of the Board of Water Works Trustees for the year ending December 31, 1923.

1929 "Five Men Indicted in Evansville Water Works Investigation," The Richmond Paladium and Sun-Telegram, March 29, 1929, Page 6.

1937 "The Evansville Water Works and the 1937 Flood," by Louis A. Geupel, Journal of the American Water Works Association 29(9):1259-1270 (September, 1937)

1938 Indiana and Kentucky boundary collection, S1489, Indiana State Library
In 1935, Kentucky filed a claim against the city of Evansville, Indiana to include real estate in the cityon Kentucky tax assessment records. The state of Kentucky claimed that the land was actually part of the state of Kentucky.  In 1944, the boundary was set by the United States Congress and they found that the Evansville Water Works plant was in Indiana

1943 Joint Resolution Giving the consent of the Congress to an agreement between the State of Indiana and the Commonwealth of Kentucky establishing a boundary between said State and said Commonwealth.  June 29, 1943.

1962 "Evansville," from Public Water Supplies of the 100 Largest Cities in the United States, 1962, US Geological Survey Water Supply Paper 1812, by Charles Norman Durfor and Edith Becker

1982 The Public Papers of Governor Keen Johnson, 1939-1943, edited by Frederic D. Ogden
Pages 264-265:  Note 1:  A boundary dispute arose, however, between the two states during John≠son's term. It involved an area south of Evansville. Whether the Evansville City Waterworks pumping plant was in Indiana or Kentucky was at issue. In 1896 the United States Supreme Court (Indiana v. Kentucky, 163 U.S. 520) gave Kentucky title to about 250 acres of bottomland on the outskirts of Evansville which had been moved to the northern side of the Ohio River when it cut a new channel during a flood. The 1792 charter from Virginia specified that the northern boundary of Kentucky was to be the low-water mark on the north side of the Ohio River. In 1896 the Army Corps of Engineers determined the course of the river and laid the boundary. A line drawn from its terminal post to the low-water mark by the shortest distance placed the Evansville Water Company in Indiana, while a line drawn as a continuation of the 1896 boundary placed the company in Kentucky. On December 6, 1940, Johnson said that he had no objection to renewal of the 1896 survey to determine the boundary, but he opposed consideration of the transfer of title of any part of the 5,000 acres upon which Henderson County collected taxes. Louisville Courier-Joumal, December 7, 1940.
Governor M. Clifford Townsend and Indiana officials met with Johnson and Kentucky representatives on December 19., 1940, in Frankfort and agreed to the appointment of a joint commission to decide the dispute. Johnson reminded the conferees that he had stated that there was "no occasion for a conference" if Indiana expected Kentucky to cede the land. He was willing to arbitrate the boundary line. The governors agreed that each would name two members to the commission and that its report would not commit either state. State Journa∑l, December 20, 1940. Johnson named Highway Commissioner Donaldson and Highway Engineer Cutler as Kentucky's members on December 31, 1940. Louis≠ville Courier-Journal, January 1, 1941. The commissioners agreed upon the boundary line.  The legislature of each state accepted the agreement and Congress gave its consent.  The resolution was signed by President Roosevelt, June 29, 1953, Public 100, 57 Stat. 248.

1998 The Ohio, by R. S. Banta
Page 15:  In a short century and a half, during which the opposite banks have been under the jurisdiction of various territorial and state governments, these shifts of the river have caused boundary and jurisdictional perplexities - including one which resulted when the Evansville, Indiana, waterworks found itself transferred to Kentucky territory.

2010 "Evansville Taking Over Wastewater Management," by Noah Stubb, 14News, January 8, 2010
The City of Evansville looked to privatize the day to day management of the water and sewer system more than 18 years ago, then billed as a way to save the city money.
Now the decision is being made to go back the other way.
For 18 years, two private companies, American Water and Environmental Management Corporation, have managed the day to day operations of Evansville's Water and Sewer Utilities.
It was a move at the time that city leaders said would save money.
"Costs were going up in a way they couldn't control and this let them bring in a sense of control via contractor," Water & Sewer Utility director of special projects and strategic planning. "I think they probably did save some money initially. I'm sure it probably made all the sense at the time."
Now that's changed.
"We are taking over the management and operation of the city's water and sewer systems," Mayor Weinzapfel said.

2015 Waterworks Collapse 1904, Vanderburgh County Historical Society

Water Works, from Historic Evansville

© 2019 Morris A. Pierce