Documentary History of American Water-works

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

Salem, Massachusetts

Salem was first settled in 1626.

The first public water supply in Salem was Frye's Aqueduct, which was organized on July, 1796 by Daniel Frye and others.  The system began operating on November 18, 1796.  Daniel Frye, Eleazer Pope, Jacob B. Winchester, and John Stimpson incorporated themselves as "The Proprietors of Frye's Aqueduct."on September 8, 1807, under the auspices of the 1799 Massachusetts Aqueduct Law.  This system served Frye's Tavern at 94 Boston Street in Salem (still standing) and other nearby buildings, and records show it was still operating in 1852.

The Salem and Danvers Aqueduct Company was incorporated n March 9, 1797  "for the purpose of conveying fresh water by subterraneous pipes into the towns of Salem & Danvers." The source for this system was located in what is now Peabody and it further described there.

The Union Aqueduct in Salem and Danvers was organized on December 30, 1799 by Caleb Low, Robert Shillaber, Samuel Purinton, Stephen Larrabee, Amos Purinton, and Lydia Trask.  The proprietors met in 1801 to discuss repairing the system, but no further information has been found on this system. 

An 1864 law allowed Salem to construct its own water works, and it formed a Board of Water Commissioners who designed and constructed the system.  The City then formed the Wenham Water Board on October 5, 1869 to operate the city water works, which were transferred to them on November 16, 1869.  An 1869 law allowed Salem to supply water to Beverly.

The City of Salem currently supplies water to the community that is provided by the Salem/Beverly Water Supply Board, which was formed by a 1913 law.


1806 Rules and Regulations of the Proprietors of the Salem and Danvers Aqueduct,: As Established by Their Directors, for the Direction of Those Persons who Have a Right to Take Water from the Same

1818 Salem Gazette, July 3, 1818, Page 2.
New Article of Traffic - Last year a still house, with all of the coppers and implements, was exported, per order, from this town to New-Orleans; and also bored logs for an Aqueduct.

1860 "History of the Salem and Danvers Aqueduct" by Charles M. Endicott, from Historical Collections of the Essex Institute, Volume 2, Number 3 (June 1860)

1864 "Extracts from the Records of two Aqueduct Corporations in Salem and Danvers", communicated by Henry Wheatland from Historical Collections of the Essex Institute, Volume 6, Number 1 (February1864)

1864-1869 Report of the Water Committee of the City of Salem, 1863 and Works Transferred from the Salem Water Board to the Wenham Water Board, November 18, 1869, and several Annual Reports of the Wenham Water Board of the City of Salem.

1869  Account of the proceedings upon the transfer of the Salem water works, to the city authorities, Nov. 16, 1869: and the addresses of W.P. Phillips, and William Cogswell.  This includes further history of the Salem & Danvers Aqueduct.

1876 The Worthington Steam Pumping Engine: History of Its Invention and Development  by Henry R. Worthington, includes reports on the Worthington pumping engine in Salem.

1877 Annual Report of the Wenham Water Board of the City of Salem, | Volumes 7-11 | Additional reports |

1883 "Salem" from Engineering News 8:303-304 (July 30, 1881)

1907 Report of the Salem Water Board

2015 Morris A. Pierce