Documentary History of American Water-works

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

Muskegon, Michigan

Muskegon was incorporated as a village in 1861 and as a city in 1869.

After a large fire on August 1, 1874, the city constructed water works that began service in May, 1875.  The engineer was George C. Morgan of Chicago.  The system used direct pressure with steam-driven Flanders pumps made by the Vergennes Machine Company.  The city was sued by the Holly Manufacturing Company for infringing their direct pressure patent in 1882, and settled for $500.

Two Walker pumps were added in 1882, and a new pumping station was built in 1891 with two Holly pumps that drew water from Lake Michigan, replacing the Muskegon River and wells as a source of water..

Water is supplied by the city of Muskegon.


References and Timeline
1874 "Water Works," Chicago Tribune, September 14, 1874, Page 7. | also here |
City of Muskegon, Mich., September 1, 1874.  Sealed proposals will be received.

1874 The Rutland Daily Globe, December 1, 1874, Page 4.
H.M. Mitchell, of the Vergennes Machine company, has closed a contract with the authorities of Muskegon, Michigan, to furnish them with the Flanders pumping machinery for $21,000.

1875 Jackson Citizen Patriot, May 8, 1875, Page 2.
The Muskegon water works are completed, and the first water was in the pipes Wednesday.

1875 Muskegon Chronicle, May 13, 1875, Page 6.
The water works were tested this week and apparently worked very satisfactorily, with nine streams at once, some of which were over 100 feet high.

1881 The Northwestern Miller 7(12):119 (August 12, 1881)
The Williams and Orton Mfg. Co. completed this week a set of pumps for M. Walker, Port Huron, Mich.  Two of these are for the water works, Muskegon, Mich., and the other for Battle Creek, same state.

1882 Northern Tribune (Cheboygan, Michigan), April 8, 1882, Page 1.
Recently the Holly manufacturing company brought suit against the city of Muskegon for an alleged infringement on a patent belonging to the former, in use at the water works. After the commencement of the suit the company offered to compromise for $500, and Muskegon has accepted the offer.

1882 History of Muskegon County, Michigan with Illustrations
Page 64:  Muskegon City Water Works
After the great fire of 1874 which swept away a large part of the city in a few hours the people of Muskegon felt fully the imperative necessity of an efficient system of water works that by making water everywhere accessible in sufficient quantities should make the recurrence of such a disaster impossible. Accordingly bonds were issued and in September, 1874, preparations were made for putting in the present system of waterworks at an expense of about $160,000, and work was immediately begun and prosecuted with vigor. The $160,000 referred to as cost includes the cost of buildings, well, well-house, reservoir, water mains, hydrants and real estate. The water supply is excellent and abundant, coming from a self-supplying reservoir of 10,000,000 gallons, and is almost as pure as spring water during the greater part of the year. The Pump House, which is shown in the illustration below, is an excellent building of brick and was built expressly for the purpose for which it is used and is, consequently, well adapted to it.
The water works are popular with the public and are every year growing more in favor and it is probable that in the near future a more abundant supply must be brought into requisition if the consumption continues to increase; and there are ample resources for an increased supply near at hand.

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

1883 Muskegon, Engineering News, 10:412 (September 1, 1883)

1883 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Muskegon, Muskegon County, Michigan. October, 1883

1887 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Muskegon, Muskegon County, Michigan. November, 1887

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

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

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

1893 Appleton's Annual Cyclopedia and Register of Important Events of the Year 1893
Page 166:  Muskegon. Water Works.-For sanitary and many other reasons, a pure and boundless supply of water is of vital importance to any city. Until recently, Muskegon could make no special claim in that direction. The city was supplied by a series of drive wells operated on the Vergennes system. The plant owned by the city had 35 miles of water mains, and, prior to the recent improvements, had cost about $225,000. The new pumping station, shown on another page, was completed for work October, 1891, and is equipped with duplicate Holly vertical pumps, each having capacity of lifting 4,000,000 gallons per day, and capable, on very short notice, of giving extra pressure for fire service. The intake pipe at a cost of about $50,000, was extended 4,000 feet into Lake Michigan, where with, proper crib and strainer, submerged 40 feet below the surface, it draws from an unlimited supply of the purest lake water.

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

1911 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Muskegon, Muskegon County, Michigan. Volume 1

1950 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Muskegon, Muskegon County, Michigan.




2019 Morris A. Pierce