Documentary History of American Water-works

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Southwestern States
Missouri St. Joseph

St. Joseph, Missouri

St. Joseph was incorporated as a city in 1851.

The Saint Joseph Water Company was incorporated December 9, 1879 and built a system that began service in December 1880

The company was bought by the American Water Works and Guarantee Company in April, 1890.

Water is provided by Missouri American Water.


References
1869 "The Holly Water Works," The St. Joseph Gazette, May 9, 1869, Page 1. | Part 2 |
Report of Mr. Pillsbury, the Engineer, May 8, 1869.

1873 "Water Works," The St. Joseph Gazette, April 30, 1873, Page 4.
The Proposition Submitted by the National Water Works Company. A. C. Davis, President.

1873 "The Water Works Question," The St. Joseph Gazette, November 8, 1873, Page 2.
To-day, Mr. Mahan estimates the cost at $800,000.

1879 "An ordinance, for the erection, construction and maintenance of water works in the city of St. Joseph, Missouri, and to regulate the same," St. Joseph Gazette, December 11, 1879, Page 3.

1881 The History of Buchanan County, Missouri
Pages 596-600:  WATER WORKS.
One of the chief needs of St. Joseph for more than ten years past has been a complete and perfect system of water works, to be employed both as a safeguard against fire and as a means of averting the possibilities of a deficient supply in seasons of drought.
But it was not until the 10th day of December, 1879, that anything was actually accomplished in that direction, at which date the Mayor approved an ordinance passed by the City Council authorizing the construction of water works upon the "gravity system," the supply to be obtained from the Missouri River, above the city limits.
On December 23d, 1879, the contract was let to the St. Joseph Water Company, under bond to complete the works and furnish a full supply of pure, wholesome water within twelve months from that date.
This company commenced work on the 4th day of January, 1880, and upon the 12th day of January, 1881, the works were accepted as perfectly satisfactory by the city authorities. In order that our citizens and others may know something of the character and extent of the works, a brief description is here given :
Three miles up the Missouri River, the Water Company purchased one hundred acres of land, where they have since erected their engine and reservoirs, and it is from that point the city is supplied with water.
Few people have an idea of the immense amount of labor and material it requires to supply a city like St. Joseph with water works. The Water Company was fortunate in procuring the one hundred acres of land upon which the works have been erected. At the foot of the hill, on the ground mentioned, the great engine house stands, and upon the top of the same hill the splendid reservoirs are to be found. A few hundred feet from the engine house the water is procured from the Missouri River, and the company went to a heavy expense for the purpose of procuring river protection and a constant channel from which to procure at all times the purest water possible. About thirty thousand dollars were spent in this manner, the company well knowing that in order to make the water works of great value to the city, measures should be taken to guard against such a disaster as would result in an insufficient supply of water. All along the banks near the works the ground has been covered with brush and rock, making it perfectly solid, and a piling runs out to the main channel about thirty feet in length. A 24-inch pipe runs from the end of this piling to the engine house and through this pipe the water is forced by the engine into the pipes running along the hill to the reservoirs above.
The building, in which is situated the engine for forcing the water into the reservoirs, is forty feet wide by eighty feet long, and is divided into two compartments. The north compartment is used as a boiler room and in it are placed three boilers, which contain fifty-nine 4-inch flues. These boilers are sixteen feet long, and sixty-four inches in diameter.
The southern portion of the room contains the engineer's room and the engines have been located therein. They have, besides the large one, a small engine set up which is capable of throwing one million gallons of water into the reservoirs every twenty-four hours. The large engine is capable of throwing four million gallons every twenty-four hours. These engines are from R. H. Worthington, of New York, and are built upon the horizontal plan. If one of them gets out of order the other can be put into use, thereby preventing the supply of water from giving out on account of accident. On the west of the engine is the smoke stack, which is one hundred feet high, sixteen feet in diameter at the base and six at the top.
The reservoirs are situated upon the hill above. It cost the company $7,000 to make a road from the foot to the top of this hill, and the reader can, consequently, judge how rough it is down this elevation. An immense amount of work has been expended upon these reservoirs. The great basins are supplied with water by the engines below, the water being first forced into a well west of the elevation, and after that it runs through pipes into the reservoirs, of which there are three. The settling basin is 380 feet long by 85 feet wide, and its capacity is three million gallons. Its depth is twenty feet, and its water level is two feet higher than the reservoir on the south. The company proposes to keep seventeen feet of water in this department all the time. At the east end there is an overflow pipe from which water can escape. The largest basin of them all is that on the south side, which is 210 feet wide by 300 feet long. Its full capacity is eight million gallons, and the idea is to keep at least fifteen feet of clear or filtered water in this reservoir all the time. Situated at a point midway between the settling basin and the south basin is the affluent well, and the water flows through a twenty-inch pipe and into the same. There is a strainer of copper at the end of this pipe, having five thousand little holes, which prevents the water from getting anything into it that might succeed in reaching the basins. The city receives its water directly from the affluent well mentioned. It is run through a twenty-inch pipe, which is laid under the ground all the way between the city and the reservoirs, three miles distant. The north basin, which is also intended for the filtered water, is 150 feet wide and 300 feet long, and has a capacity of six millions of gallons. Although partly dug out, this basin will not be put in operation for the present.
The company has laid a layer of gumbo one foot and a half thick all over the bottom and sides of the basins. Over the gumbo is placed a layer of brick, with the crevices filled up with cement.
If at any time it should be required to empty these basins there is certain machinery on hand that can be placed at work immediately and the old water can be replaced by that which is fresh and pure.
It is hardly probable that all the basins will ever get out of order at the same time. Should they do so, however, the company still has a way to supply the city with water. There is direct connection between the affluent and influent wells and the water is supplied to the city by opening the valves. If such an accident should happen, the company will not warrant the water to be pure, because it cannot go through the purifying process in the settling basins. At all other times, the water is warranted clear and pure.
Waste pipes are attached to the reservoirs for draining purposes, which can be readily used at any time.
Reservoir Hill is 330 feet above high water mark, and it is 122 feet higher than any point in St. Joseph. In the business portion of the city the pressure has been, since the works were in operation, 120 pounds to the square inch.
In testing the capacity of the street hydrants it has been demonstrated that in the business portion of the city a stream can be thrown through hose, with a proper nozzle attached, to the height of about 110 feet, while at the corner of Nineteenth and Francis Streets, one of the highest points within the eastern corporate limits, a distance of 65 feet has been shown to be the extreme limit of elevation. From the above facts it will be seen that in a majority of cases the hydrants can be utilized in place of steam fire engines now used in connection with the fire department, thus proving a source of economy as well as safety to every citizen.
At first the contract only called for sixteen miles of piping, and 240 fire hydrants, but it has been necessary since then to increase the number of miles from sixteen to twenty-six.
At the present writing, something over twenty miles of main pipe has been laid in place and one hundred and eighty-two hydrants placed at proper locations and in working order. At the junction of the principal streets, and at other suitable points, stop gates or valves have been inserted in the water mains for shutting off the water in cases of necessity or convenience from any of the lines of pipe.
The large supply pipe enters the city at the corner of Third and Middleton Streets, and from there a sixteen-inch pipe runs to Sixth Street, and a twelve-inch pipe to Third. From these points the pipes run in every direction, making the water course every way during day and night.
Anticipating that South St. Joseph is likely to become an important manufacturing point, the water company has run pipes all through that section of the city.
The preparation for drainage in the city are complete. The company has already placed a number of pipes in the lowest parts of the city for that purpose. These pipes are to be kept perfectly clean all the time, so the people can have fresh and pure water constantly.
The works were to cost at first, $300,000, but the company kept adding to the original estimate until the works complete have cost $700,000, instead of amount first estimated.
In building the works, the company took into consideration the fact that St. Joseph is likely to grow much larger in the near future, and ample arrangements have been made to supply a city of several times the size of St. Joseph, if it becomes necessary, and it is believed that the time is not very far in the future when the company will have occasion to test the capacity of their works to the utmost extent.
The popularity of the works is evidenced by the fact that nearly two hundred and fifty applications have been made since their completion for water supply for private residences, stores, hotels, factories, mills, etc.
This even exceeds the most sanguine expectations of the company and is a gratifying assurance of liberal patronage in the near future.
The officers of the company are : W. Scott Fitz, President ; T. J. Chew, Jr., Secretary ; J. W. Rutherfoord, Chief Engineer ; H. F. Juengst, Ass't Engineer ; Theo. W. Davis, Superintendent of the Works. The company keeps from thirty-five to forty hands constantly employed.
The building of such immense water works is an undertaking that requires great engineering and mechanical skill, and Major Rutherfoord has demonstrated his capacity as an engineer by so successfully completing the work.
Such is the description of the St. Joseph water works, which are destined to be of so much value and pleasure to the people of St. Joseph, and which constitute one of the grandest enterprises that have been completed in the city in 1880.

1882 St. Joseph, Engineering News, 9:399-400 (November 18, 1882)

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

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

1890 "Water Works Sold," The St. Joseph News-Press, April 25, 1890, Page 1.
Transferred all their right, title and interest in the St. Joseph water works to the American Water Works Gaurantee Company of Pittsburg, Pa.

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

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

1895 "Special Ordinance No. 1813," The St. Joseph Herald, March 1, 1895, Page 7.

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

1900 The daily news' history of Buchanan County and St. Joseph, Mo. : from the time of the Platte purchase to the end of the year 1898 : preceded by a short history of Missouri : supplemented by biographical sketches of noted citizens, living and dead, by Christian Ludwig Rutt
Page 141-143: In 1875 an unsuccessful effort was made to secure a public water system for St. Joseph. The matter was not permitted to slumber, however, and the close of 1879 saw the project well under way to success. On December 1, 1879, the council passed an ordinance agreeing to contract with W. S. Fitz, John W. Rutherford and their associates for waterworks, when these men had formed a corporation to build such works. The sum of $5,000 was deposited with the city treasurer as a guarantee that this company would be formed and incorporated within ten days.
On December 10, 1879, the council passed an ordinance granting the St. Joseph Water Company the right to construct works on the reservoir gravitation plan, to lay mains, etc. The city reserved the right, at its option, at the expiration of ten years from the date of the approval of the ordinance, to purchase the waterworks, including all pipes, attachments, extensions, franchises, etc., upon giving six months’ previous notice in writing ; the city and water company each to appoint a person and the two to select a third to appraise the property. The city contracted for one hundred and sixty hydrants for a period of twenty years, the company agreeing to place ten additional hydrants for every mile of pipe to be laid in the future extension of the service. This contract was, as provided for in the ordinance, ratified by the people at a special election, held on December 23, 1879, and only four votes were cast in the negative.
The water company was organized as follows : W. Scott Fitz, president; T. J. Chew, Jr., secretary; J. W. Rutherford, chief engineer. The company agreed to have sixteen miles of pipe laid and the system in operation in one year. One hundred acres of land, some miles north of the city, were purchased and work was begun on January 4, 1880. There was but one reservoir at first, located on a hill 320 feet above the river at low water mark, and 112 feet higher than any point in St. Joseph. The pumping station was located at the river. The original cost of the works was estimated at $300,000, but before they were offered for acceptance the company had . expended $700,000.
On January 12, 1881, the works were accepted by the mayor and council, and placed into active service. Theodore W. Davis was the first superintendent and was succeeded by Louis C. Burnes, who served until the spring of 1897, when he was succeeded by Charles H. Taylor, the present superintendent. In October of 1889 the stock and franchise of the company were sold to the American Waterworks and Guarantee Company of Pittsburg, Pa., a combination of capitalists owning and controlling the water systems of thirty-one other cities. The stockholders at the time of the sale were Col. James N. Burnes, Calvin F. Burnes, T. J. Chew, Jr., and William M. Wyeth.
The system has grown and expanded materially since the beginning. The water is pumped from the river, through filters, to the reservoir on the hill, and thence it flows to the city through pipes.
The pumping plant consists of two Worthington pumps, each of three million gallon capacity in twenty-four hours ; one Gaskill high duty pumping engine, of six million gallons capacity in twenty-four hours; one Cope & Maxwell engine of one million gallons capacity in twenty-four hours. A slow-service engine, of eight million gallons capacity, lifts the water to the filter plant, which is located at the pumping station, and which consists of fifteen O. A. H. Jewell filtering tanks, each fifteen feet in height and twelve feet in diameter. The Norberg Manufacturing Company, of Milwaukee, is under contract to build a high-duty pump of eight million gallons' capacity, to be delivered February 15, 1899. The steam plant consists of four Heine water-tube boilers, of a combined force of eight hundred-horse power.
There are two suction pipes to the river, one thirty-six inches in diameter and the other twenty-four inches in diameter ; there are two force mains from the pumping station to the reservoirs and two twenty-inch supply mains from the reservoirs to the city. There are now three ; e«eivoirs, with a combined capacity of about seventeen million gallons. There are now more than eighty-one miles of pipe, the service to the stockyards having just been completed, and there are 501 double-nozzle hydrants on the streets for fire protection.
The period of the city’s contract with the water company will expire in December of 1899, and negotiations are now in progress for a renewal thereof. The fact that no agreement has been reached after nearly two years of negotiating, and the fact also that the city has solicited bids from other parties to build water works, leaves it to the compiler of the next history to chronicle the final solution of a problem in which the public is greatly interested.
Page 597:  THE WATER COMPANY— The history of the St. Joseph Waterworks is fully told on page 140. The system has grown and expanded materially since the beginning. The water is pumped from the river, through filters, to the reservoir on the hill, and thence it flows to the city through pipes. The pumping plant consists of two Worthington pumps, each of three million gallon capacity in twenty-four hours; one Gaskill high duty pumping engine, of six million gallons capacity in twenty-four house; one Cope & Maxwell engine of one million gallons capacity in twenty-four hours. A slow-service engine, of eight million gallons capacity, lifts the water to the filter plant, which is located at the pumping station, and which consists of fifteen O. A. H. Jewell filtering tanks, each fifteen feet in height and twelve feet in diameter. There are now three reservoirs, with a combined capacity of 17 million gallons. There are now more than eighty-one miles of pipe, the service to the stockyards having just been completed, and there are 501 double-nozzle hydrants on the streets for fire protection. Mr. Charles H. Taylor, the superintendent has shown himself a capable manager and has made many friends among the people of St. Joseph.


© 2020 Morris A. Pierce