Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography
North Central States
Michigan Cadillac

Cadillac, Michigan

Cadillac was incorporated as the village of Clam Lake in 1874 and as the city of Cadillac in 1877.

The first water works was built by local resident Holden N. Green in 1878, using a steam-engine to pump water directly through Wyckoff wood pipes

Green sold the system to Wellington W. Cummer around 1891, who formed the Cadillac Water Company to own the system.  Cummer also owned the local electric company and it was combined into the Cadillac Water & Light Company, which was acquired by Consumer's Power around 1920.

Local voter approved buying the water system in 1946 for $300,000.

Water is supplied by the city of Cadillac.

References and Timeline
1882 Cadillac 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 Cadillac, Wexford County, Michigan. August, 1884

1884 Detroit Free Press, September 27, 1884, Page 4.
The test of the Cadillac Water Works has been made.  It provide quite satisfactory.  The test was made on ground 100 feet above th water works, and a stream was thrown 145 feet.

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

1890 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Cadillac, Wexford County, Michigan. October, 1890

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

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

1892 "New Corporations," Detroit Free Press, August 23, 1892, Page 2.
Cadillac Water Company, Cadillac, $75,000.

1895 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Cadillac, Wexford County, Michigan. October, 1895

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

1900 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Cadillac, Wexford County, Michigan. August, 1900

1903 History of Wexford County, Michigan, by John H. Wheeler
Page 290:  The first system of water works was inaugurated by H. N. Green in 1878. The mains laid at that time were of wood bound with iron, the largest having only six inch bore for water. In 1893 a franchise was granted to W. W. Cummer to furnish a water supply for thirty years. The old wooden mains were replaced with iron pipes, the principal ones having a water capacity of twelve inches diameter. A stand pipe was built upon one of the highest elevations in the city and this is kept filled with water at all times, to guard against any mishap to the pumps or engines. There are now over ten miles of water mains in the city and the average daily consumption of water is about a million and a quarter gallons.
About the time that Mr. Cummer secured the water franchise he started in the electric lighting business, using the same building that contained the pumping outfit for his dynamos. This branch of the business grew rapidly and it was not long before every business place and many of the residences had been supplied with electric lights. A little later street lights were put in place which gave the newly fledged city quite a dignified appearance.
Page 306:  Holden N. Green was also an early pioneer in the village of Clam Lake ; in fact, he arrived on the shore of Little Clam lake, now Lake Cadillac, nearly a year before the village was platted. lie first engaged in the lumber business in 1871. and continued his operations in that line until 1878. It was during this latter year that he undertook the work of supplying the city with water.  His engine house and pumps were built at the foot of West Harris street, nearly or quite on the site now occupied by the steam laundry. He operated this plant about fourteen years, during which time the building was once destroyed by fire.
Page 338-342:  Wellington W. Cummer.  Mr. Cummer's interests in Cadillac include his membership in the firm of Cummer,  Diggins & Company, operating in hardwood and in chemicals, and his ownership of the Cummer Electric Light Company and the Cadillac Water Company plants. These two  latter representing an investment approximating two hundred thousand dollars. Mr. Cummer built the electric light plant in 1888 and succeeded H. N. Green in i88i in the ownership of the water plant, Both of these plants are under the superintendence and management of George D. Westover, and both are modern and complete in equipment.

1906 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Cadillac, Wexford County, Michigan. February, 1906

1914 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Cadillac, Wexford County, Michigan. February, 1914

1917 "Thaw Gives Cadillac Year's Water Supply," Lansing State Journal, April 5, 1917, Page 7.

1919 "Averages Twice as Much as Far Larger Cities," Detroit Free Press, June 29, 1919, Page 13.
Cadillac during the last week consumed 242 gallons of water per capita per day.  The fact that Cadillac's water supply comes from a large lake and is inexhaustible is given at the reason for so much wastage.

1920 "Cadillac Water Rates are Low," The Herald-Press (St. Joseph, Michigan), November 12, 1920, Page 1.

1946 "Voters of Cadillac OK Water Works Purchase," Battle Creek Enquirer, April 17, 1946, Page 3. | Part 2 |
Cadillac voters today had approved the purchase of the city water works system from the Consumers Power Co. for $300,000.  Cadillac was one of only three cities in Michigan whose water utilities are privately owed and the only city in the state in which Consumers Power Co. operated a water works.  The power company agreed to provide continued water service for the community 16 years ago when it absorbed the old Cadillac Water and Light Co.

2019 Morris A. Pierce