Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography
New England States Massachusetts Charlestown

Charlestown, Massachusetts

Charlestown was first settled in 1629, became a city in 1848, and was annexed by Boston in 1874.

The Charlestown Water Works was incorporated in 1854 with a capital stock of $500,00 by George S. Adams, Gardiner G. Hubbard, and Moses M. Rice "for the purpose of supplying the inhabitants of the city of Charlestown with water."  This company did not build a system but helped to further a local dialogue about water supply.

In 1860 Charlestown was authorized to buy water from Boston, but that system had no spare capacity.  A law passed the following year allowed Charlestown to construct its own water works, which was approved by voters on September 10, 1861 by a vote of 944 to 251.  The city began construction on September 27, 1862 with an appropriate ceremony,    Water was formally introduced into the city on November 29, 1864 with imposing ceremonies.

The Charlestown works took its supply from Upper Mystic Lake, which was separated from the lower lake by the Mystic Dam.  A 7,453-foot underground brick conduit conveyed the water from the dam to the north side of the Mystic River, where cast-iron pipes took it under the river to pumping station.  From there water was pumped to an elevated reservoir on what is now the Tufts University campus, and from there it was distributed through cement-lined wrought-iron pipes.  A single 5 MGD Worthington pumping engine was initially installed in 1864, with a second added in 1865.  A third 8 MGD Worthinging pumping engine was added in 1872. The pumping station was abandoned in 1912, and its machinery scrapped.

Charlestown was authorized to sell water to the neighboring city of Chelsea in 1865, and service began in November 1867.  Charlestown was further authorized to sell water to Somerville and Malden in 1866, Medford in 1867, and Melrose in 1871.  Somerville chose to buy water from Charlestown, while Malden, Medford and Melrose built their own systems taking water from Spot Pond..

The city of Boston took over the works with the 1874 annexation of Charlestown, but the Mystic Water Board remained in charge of the system for some time.

Water is provided by City of Boston Water and Sewer Commission.


References
1854 An act to incorporate the Charlestown Water Works. April 13, 1854.

1867 An Act Concerning The Charlestown Water Works.  May 30, 1857.

1859 Report on supplying the city of Charlestown with pure water: made for the City council by order of Hon. James Dana, mayor of Charlestown, by George Rumford Baldwin and Charles L. Stevenson, December 26, 1859
Page 9:  Water usage per person in various cities

1860 An act for supplying the city of Charlestown with pure water.  June 12, 1860.

1861 An act for supplying the city of Charlestown with pure water.  March 28, 1861.

1862 Prof. Silliman's Report on the Water Supply from Upper Mystic Pond for Charlestown, (Mass.) July, 1862,  by Benjamin Silliman

1863 An act in amendment of an "act for supplying the city of Charlestown with pure water."  February 5, 1863.

1864 An act in addition to an act for supplying the city of Charlestown with pure water.  April 24, 1864.

1865 Report of the Commissioners and Chief Engineer of the Charlestown Water Works: February 28, 1865 | Also here |

1865 An act in addition to an act for supplying the city of Charlestown with pure water.  April 8, 1865.

1865 An act to authorize the city of Chelsea to purchase a supply of water from the city of Charlestown, and to issue scrip in payment therefor.  April 11, 1865.

1866 An act to authorize the city of Charlestown to furnish the towns of Somerville and Malden with water.  May 3, 1866.

1867 An act to authorize the town of Medford to procure a supply of water.  March 11, 1867.

1870 An act in addition to "an act for supplying the city of Charlestown with water. May 5, 1870.

1870 Sixth Annual Report of the Mystic Water Board of the City of Charlestown, Mass., for the year ending December 31, 1870.

1871 An act in addition to "an act for supplying the city of Charlestown with water. April 3, 1871.

1871 An act to supply the town of Everett with water.  April 19, 1871.

1871 Seventh Annual Report of the Mystic Water Board of the City of Charlestown, Mass., for the year ending December 31, 1871.

1872 An act in addition to "an act for supplying the city of Charlestown with water. March 9, 1872.

1872 Eighth Annual Report of the Mystic Water Board of the City of Charlestown, Mass., for the year ending December 31, 1872.

1878 "Mystic Department," Engineering News 5:118-121 (April 11, 1878)

1878 "Mystic Department," from Description of the Boston Water Works | includes a map showing the Mystic works |

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

1888 "Boston - The Mystic System," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 1.

1890 "Boston - The Mystic Department," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 2.

1891 "Boston - The Mystic Department," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 3.

1897 "Boston - Mystic Department," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 4.

1917 "The Mystic Water Works," Medford Historical Register, 20(2,3):21-30 (April, July 1917) | Also here |

1990 Mystic Pumping Station, National Register of Historic Sites

Mystic Water Works

Mystic Lake Dam

Mystic System Reservoir, now part of Tufts University Campus.  Tufts bought the reservoir in 1944 for $1.00.



2017 Morris A. Pierce