|Introduction||Historical Background||Chronology||Geography||Biography||Technology||Ownership and Financing||General Bibliography|
Saint Louis was founded in 1764 and became an independent city in 1876.
The first mention of water works in St. Louis is August, 1810, when Calvin Adams petitioned the Trustees of the town of St. Louis for "exclusive privileges" for "bringing fresh water into the Town by Mean of Pipes." The council did not want to grant any exclusive privileges, so nothing came of this.
The first waterworks were built by John C. Wilson and Abraham Fox of Florence, Alabama, who received a contract from the city in 1829. Wilson sold his interest to Fox in August, 1830, and Fox renegotiated the agreement with the city in 1831, with the city agreeing to take three-fourths of the capital stock in the water works. It is not known how Wilson & Fox ended up in St. Louis, and it does not appear that either had any engineering, contracting, or water works experience. They did have financial difficulties and both faced lawsuits from their creditors, and Fox spend some time imprisoned for debt in Tennessee in 1828.
The city appointed Fox as superintendent of the water works, but in 1835 decided to buy him out for $18,000 minus funds that had been advanced to him, but it is unclear if the final payment was made to him. (see July 22, 1837 reference). The city installed a second engine in 1837 and a third in 1846, but the latter did not perform well and two additional engines were installed in 1852 and yet another in 1868.
Finally in the late 1860s
a Board of Water Commissioners was established and extensive new works
were designed by James P. Kirkwood and built in the late 1860s at Bissell
Point. This system included a low service plant with two engines, each
having a daily capacity of 18 million gallons, a high service plant with
two engines, each having a capacity of 16.5 million gallons, a new
reservoir at Compton Hill with a capacity of 56 million gallons, and the
first of three standpipes
that although not in service still remain standing. These works were
completed by 1872, and were almost immediately expanded to meet growing
demand for water. Kirkwood also recommended that filtering beds be
installed, but this was not done until much later.
The Chain of Rocks water plant was opened in 1894 and is capable of pumping 450 million gallons per day.
The waterworks are currently owned by City of St. Louis Water Division, which has a history page and a History of the St. Louis Water Works, by William B. Schworm.
1810 "Petition of Calvin Adams for exclusive privileges to bring fresh water into town by mean of pipe," August 16, 1810, Trustees book for the town of St.Louis, 1808-July, 1813 proceedings, . Cited in The Urban Frontier: The Rise of Western Cities, 1790-1830, by Robert C. Wade, pages 94-95 and note 45. (1959)
1826 Abraham Wood of Lauderdale County on January 1, 1826 paid a debt of $159.60 for a horse and saddle purchased by William Whitsett from Abraham Fox. As security for the debt Rev. Whitsett pledged property where he lived on lot 11 at the corner of Tuscaloosa Street and Tongigy Street in Florence (Lauderdale County, Alabama Deed Book A-4, page 336, recorded 22 April 1829).
1828 On the first of May 1828, Fox wrote from Shannonsville, Tennessee (where he resided and owned a store) by his agent, to A. Fisk & Co. at New Orleans, informing them that he was in custody at the suit of his creditors, but would reserve sufficient to satisfy them, and requested that they should send an agent to attend to their claim. Fox also a store in Florence, Alabama. (see 1842 reference)
1829 The first suggestion appears to have been made in a communication signed "An Old Citizen," and read at a meeting of the board of aldermen on the 17th of July of that year, which called for the establishment of water-works.
1829 Later in the same year, on the 7th of September, the then mayor, Daniel D. Page, sent to the board a communication relating to the subject, and inclosing three propositions made by a firm named John C. Wilson & Co. for building waterworks.
1829 It was considered important enough to be referred to a select committee, which was instructed to hold a conference with the firm. Still further action was taken a few days after, when the committee, in conjunction with the mayor, were authorized to contract with J. C. Wilson & Co. for supplying water to the city.
1829 Articles of Agreement between the Mayor, Aldermen, and Citizens of the City of St. Louis, and John C. Wilson & Abraham Fox, of Florence, in the State of Alabama. September 17, 1829.
1830 March term of St. Louis Circuit Court, Dr. Beriah Graham sued John C. Wilson for payment for medical attention.
1830 April 3, 1830, a lot of ground was acquired by city from Gen. Wm. H. Ashley, 170 by 65 feet, on what was then known as the Little Mound, situated on the corner of Ashley and Collins Streets. The cost of this property was five hundred dollars, conditioned, however, upon its continued use for the purpose of a reservoir, and to revert to the original owner or his heirs when it should bo diverted from that use.
1830 On June 29, 1830, the city purchased from Col. George F. Strother, as agent of the United States, four lots, forming a Block or Square on the bank of the river Mississippi, for the sum of $2,265. At the foot of Bates Street, 250 by 250 feet, for a site on which to erect their pumping-engines and such buildings as would be necessary for carrying on the business of the company.
1830 On August 17, 1830, John C. Wilson sold out and transferred to said Fox, all his right, title and interest in the said Water Works, and the contract then become between the city and the said A. Fox, as sole contractor.
1830 The engine house was built and a steam engine was purchased from Francis Pratt in Pittsburgh. Conflicting information is given on the pump that was provided. An 1895 reference (see below) says that "The pump was double-acting, and the piston was 6 inches in diameter and of 4 feet stroke. This engine proved to be a failure and was replaced by two rotary pumps which the city had purchased for fire engines." An 1883 history has two rotary pump fire engines purchased in 1819 by public subscription, but both fell into bad repair during the 1820s. In 1920 it was revealed that Vermont mechanic Asahel Hubbard had built and delivered a rotary pump to the water works made by his National Hydraulic Company, for which he had received a white horse a partial payment. (see 1920, 1922, 1923, and 1937 references). Hopefully more information can be found on this, especially one or more primary sources.
1830 The city advanced to said contractor, as per his receipt of November 4th, 1830, the sum of $1000, as part of the sum of $3000 which was to have been said when the water should have been delivered in the reservoir
1830 November term of St. Louis Circuit Court, Leonard Jacobs sued John C. Wilson for "Promissory notes made in Florence, Alabama."
1831 The American Advertising Directory, for
Manufacturers and Dealers in American Goods; For the Year 1831
Pages 31-32: Cavendish, Windsor Co. Vt. 60 Miles S. Montpelier.
National Hydraulic Company, Proctorville, manufacture Hubbard's newly invented and highly improved Fire Engines and Forcing Pumps. Engines of 30 men power, 350 gallons of water per minute, $450; smaller engines in the same proportion.
1831 March 22, 1831 resolution of Board to purchase pipe.
1831 In a Report made by a Committee of the preceding Board of Aldermen in conjunction with the Mayor, which Report is endorsed 25th March 1831, it was recommended that the city should take three-fourths of the stock of the Water Works, and of course pay three-fourth of the stock of their erection.
1831 On March 29, 1831, a contract was entered into by the Mayor, on the part of the city, in virtue of a Resolution of the Board of Aldermen for the 22d of the same month, with Messrs. Vanleer and Co. for a further supply of iron pipe; and the city, is by that contract, responsible for 2,000 feet of six-inch iron pipe, and 5,000 feet of iron pipe four inches in diameter
1831 The Mayor and a Committee of the Board of Aldermen, on April 2, 1831, also gave to Messrs. A. W. Vanleer and Co. their note, in behalf of the city, for the sum of $2309.60 cents for iron pipes furnished by them, for the use of the Water works, which will become payable on the 1st day of April, 1832.
Articles of Agreement, April 2, 1831.
John C. Wilson, by an instrument in writing, under his hand and seal, dated the seventeenth day of August, in the year one thousand eight hundred and thirty, bargained, sold, transferred, and conveyed to the said Abraham Fox, all of his right title, and interest, both at law and in equity, in and to the water works.
1833 Abraham Fox v. George W. Carlisle and John W. Mason, 3 Mo. 197, Supreme Court of Missouri, May Term, 1833. Carlisle & Mason were dry goods merchants in Cincinnati who sued Fox over an unpaid bill of exchange. Fox lost the case at trial in the St. Louis Circuit Court in May, 1832 for the amount of $389.91, appealed, and the verdict was reversed on a technicality relating to the date of depositions in November, 1831. The ultimate outcome of the case is unknown.
1831 "Report of the Committee on Water Works," St. Louis Beacon, May 26, 1831.
1833 The water works engine house and machinery was destroyed by fire on July 15, 1833, and was out of service for some unknown length of time.
1833 An ordinance passed by the board of aldermen, Nov. 23, 1833, and approved November 26th, authorized a loan for the further extension of the water-works
1835 In July, 1835, during the mayoralty of Hon. John F. Darby, a proposition was made to buy the interest of Fox in the water-works, and make them an institution solely owned and controlled by the city. The price was $18,000, from which was deduced $3,105.64 that had been advanced to Fox, resulting in a net payment of $14,894.36. The first payment of $7,447.18 was made immediately, with the second to be divided into two payments of $3,723.59 that would be paid when the second and third installments of water loan were paid in.
Commercial Bulletin, August 17, 1835, Page 3.
Proceedings of the Board of Aldermen of the City of St. Louis. Tuesday, July 14, 1835.
Mr. Grimsley, from the committee on Ways and Means, reported a preamble with resolution annexed, authorizing the Mayor to perfect the contract temporarily made with Messrs. Grimsley and Primm with A. Fox for his interest in the Water Works, at $18,000 -- that so soon as the contract shall be perfected, the Auditor shall issue his warrant to said Fox for $7,447.18, and the remainder, to-wit, $7447.18, after deducing the balance due by said Fox to the city for advances, be paid as follows, to-wit: $3,723.59 with the second installment of the City Loan is paid in, and $3,723.59 when the third installment shall be paid in.
Commercial Bulletin, September 9, 1835.
Proceedings of the Board of Aldermen, of the City of St. Louis. Tuesday, September 1, 1835.
The Committee on Water Works, Reported, that A. Fox had delivered 132 pieces of the ten inch Iron Pipes, and 18 Fire plugs, on his contract of March 21, 1835, and recommended that an appropriation, not exceeding $4,000 be made for the payment thereof, which report was adopted.
1835 The revised ordinances of the city of Saint Louis, 1835-36 Includes several water works ordinances and water rates.
1837 The Western Address Directory: Containing
the Cards of Merchants, Manufacturers and Other Business Men, in
Pittsburgh, (Pa.) Wheeling, (Va.) Zanesville, (O.) Portsmouth, (O.)
Dayton, (O.) Cincinnati, (O.) Madison, (Ind.) Louisville, (K.) St.
Louis, (Mo.) Together with Historical, Topographical & Statistical
Sketches, (for the Year 1837,) of Those Cities, and Towns in the
Mississippi Valley. Intended as a Guide to Travellers. To which is
Added, Alphabetically Arranged, a List of the Steam-boats on the
Western Waters, by William Gilman Lyford
Page 400: St. Louis - The city is supplied with water through the medium of water works. A reservoir is constructed on one of the large artificial mounds, in the northern suburbs of the city, into which water is forced by steam power, from the Mississippi, and from which it is conveyed through iron pipes to such points as required. The engine, however, is not of sufficient power, and will soon give place to one of more efficiency.
Commercial Bulletin, June 26, 1837, Page 2.
Proceedings of the Board of Aldermen of the City of St. Louis. Tuesday, June 23, 1837.
The committee on Water Works reported on the petition of E. Brooks and others, that they have procured an estimate of the cost of a sufficient Engine and Engine House for the Water works, which is $8180, with a resolution to authorize them to contract with Gary & Coons for the Engine at 7000, which was laid on the table.
Commercial Bulletin, July 22, 1837.
Proceedings of the Board of Aldermen of the City of St. Louis. Friday, July 14, 1837.
The select committee on the subject of making arrangements to pay the note to A. Fox for $3723.59 reported that they could not devise means to pay the same and that the Missouri Insurance Co., the holders of the note still adhered to their proportion made on the 13th inst. therefore they offered a resolution authorizing the Mayor to renew said note for the time and on the conditions expressed in the resolutions passed by the Co. on the 13 inst, which report was negatived, Ayes, Messrs Pease, Spencer and Wilgus--3. Noes Messrs Cohen, Collins, Hill, Hudson, O'Brien, Tiernan, Walsh and Mr. President--8.
Commercial Bulletin, April 3, 1838, Page 2.
Proceedings of the Board of Aldermen of the City of St. Louis. Tuesday, March 27, 1838.
Mr. Hill moved that the Engine House for the Water Works be erected two stories high, agreeable to the plans submitted by the Committee on Public Buildings, instead of one story; and that Messrs. Goodfellow & Andrews be required to sign a contract, and proceed with the erection of said house as expeditiously as possible, the same to be done under the superintendence of the Street Commissioner, or such other person as the Mayor may appoint for that purpose, which motion was laid on the table.
Commercial Bulletin, March 7, 1838, Page 2.
Proceedings of the Board of Aldermen of the City of St. Louis. Wednesday, January 24, 1838.
The committee on Water Works submitted a Report containing an estimate of the cost of enlarging the present Water Works Reservoir, and of purchasing the Big Mound, and erecting a Reservoir thereon, with the following, which was adopted, to wit:
Whereas, in the opinion of this Board, it will be advantageous to the prosperity of this city to purchase the Big Mound, for the purpose of erecting a Reservoir thereon; provided, that it can be purchased on reasonable terms; and that it is necessary that an immediate should be had on the subject definitely, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Committee on Public Buildings report to this Board on what terms, and for what sum, the Big Mound, says 150 by 2580 feet, more or less, and a lot of 50 or 100 x 150 on the River, opposite the said Mound, can be purchased; upon what terms an exchange can be made with the proprietors of said property for the present engine house lot; and that they report the same at the next meeting of this Board.
Commercial Bulletin, June 5, 1838, Page 2.
Proceedings of the Board of Aldermen of the City of St. Louis. Tuesday, May 15, 1838.
On report of the committe of Public Buildings, The chairman of that committee was requested to superintend the building of the engine house now going up.
The committee on Water Works were discharged from the consideration of a report relative to the building of an engine house, and from a letter of the Mayor (Mr. Darby) dated September 27, 1837, with the contracts therein enclosed, which papers were referred to the committee on Public Buildings.
1837 A new engine was contracted for with "Gaty & Coonce" in September, 1837. . It was finished and put to work in 1839. Its cost was about $6,000.00. This engine was direct acting, with a double acting pump, steam cylinder 13 inches in diameter, and 6 feet stroke,-pump same dimensions.
1842 Abraham Fox v. Alvarez Fisk, 7 Miss. 328, Mississippi Supreme Court, January term, 1842. A lawsuit over sale and delivery of cotton.
1843 The Revised Ordinances of the City of Saint Louis, includes several water-works ordinances.
1847 In 1846 another pumping engine (the third since the commencement of the works) was erected by Messrs. Kingsland & Lightner of St. Louis. This was a crank and fly-wheel engine, steam cylinder 20 inches in diameter, seven and a half feet stroke; pump double acting, 15 inches diameter, and same stroke as steam cylinder. This machine failed to give satisfaction, and injured itself by working loosely, the fault being due to the bad foundation. In 1847 the engine gave out completely, and the old machine had to he relied on to keep up the supply until the Kingsland engine could be thoroughly rebuilt.
1847 St. Louis business directory, for 1847:
containing the history of St. Louis, from the period of its first
settlement, down to the present time
Page 33-35: Journal of the Flood of 1844. June 21 -- In the Water Works, the water is up over the boilers, and nearly all the mills have suspended work, as have the Water Works.
American and United States Gazette [Philadelphlia], February 6,
1850, Page 1.
St. Louis Water Works--The new water works of St. Louis being completed, the water was let into the new reservoir on the 21st ult. in presence of the municipal officers.
The new reservoir is situated in the north-western part of the city, west of the late Mrs. Wright's residence, upon a plate of about ten acres, owned by the city. It is the highest point of ground around the city, within a suitable distance from the river.
This reservoir is but the commencement of more extended works. The ground has been so laid off that it is calculated that four reservoirs of equal size with the present may be constructed upon the plat. The base of the new reservoir, we believe, for we have not seen the surveys to refer to, is eleven foot or more above the top of the present water works, and considerably above the highest elevation of most of the principal buildings and spires in the city. The reservoir is of solid masonry, a heavy rock wall without, and brick lining, laid in cement, within. It is two hundred and fifty feet square, and fifteen feet deemp, and capable of holding one million of gallons of water, or with the present population of the city, a supply for seven days.
The new Reservoir is distant, in a northwestwardly direction, about 10,000 feet from the lot on the river bank where the steam engines are stationed. From the river bank, or where the waer is taken from the river to the Reservoir, it is but a fraction less than two miles. The new Reservoir has cost the city about $30,000, and the laying of the ascending mains and other expenditures have swelled the whole cost of the new Water Works, as stated by Mr. Donovan, the Superintendent, to about the sum of $180,000.
1850 The Revised Ordinances of the City of St.
Louis: Revised and Digested by the City Council, in the Year 1850
Page 171: Water License and Rates
1853 The two engines were
then used alternately until 1852, when Gaty, McCune & Co. built the
fourth engine "Hercules" for the department.
In 1852, Gaty, McCune & Co. built the fourth engine "Hercules" for the department. This engine cost $25,000.00; steam cylinder 26 inches diameter, ten feet stroke; pump, double-acting piston, cylinder 22 inches diameter, ten feet stroke. This machine, when originally set up, had some sort of a condenser attached to it which proved a failure,
and it was dispensed with in 1853.
1856 To keep pace with the continually increasing demand for water, a fifth engine, the "Ajax", was built by Clark Renfrew & Co. St. Louis at a cost of $28,566.33 Diameter of steam cylinder 30 inches, stroke 10 feet, pump cylinder 22 inches, ten feet stroke,-pump double acting.
1856 Daily Missouri Republican, May
23, 1856, Page 4.
Water Works. The new engine house is complete, the machinery of the new pump, engine and boilers finished, steam has been let on, and the whole found to work well. This machinery is very complete in workmanship, and does great credit to its builders, Messrs. Clarke, Renfrew & Co. As soon as it has been sufficiently tested, the machinery now in use will be repaired, which it much needs.
The new engine has about the same capacity and the old one, the cylinder being 26 inches in diameter and ten feet long, making a double facing forcing pump of the same stroke, and 20 inches in diameter. It has a battery of six double flue boiler of the same size as those on the old machinery, which has but five. The new engine is expected to, and will raise up to the Reservoir, if it works up to the calculation, about 260,000 gallons of water per hour.
ordinances of the City of St. Louis, State of Missouri: digested and
revised by the City Council of said City, in the years 1855-6
Page 862+ includes a list of all water-works ordinances from 1823 to 1856
1857 In 1857 the old engines, Nos. 2 and 3, were sold for the sum of $1,855.00.
1861 Report of special committee on water-works, presented to the common council of the city of St. Louis, February 26th, 1861: submitting plans for new water works, with estimate of cost and statistical information in relation thereto, by Saint Louis (Mo.). City Council
Missouri Democrat, September 1, 1862, Page 1.
Special Orders, No. 95. Headquarters, District of Missouri, St. Louis, August 30, 1862.
Willis R. Pritchard is hereby appointed Superintendent of the St. Louis Water works, and will be obeyed and respected accordingly. He will relieve the present superintendent, Daniel H. Donovan, on Monday, the 1st of September proximo, when the term of office of the latter will expire. By order of Brigadier General Schofield. C. W. Marsh, Assistant Adjutant General.
1863 An Act to enable the City of St. Louis to extend the Water Works thereof and for other purposes. March 23, 1863.
1865 First report of Board of water
commissioners of the city of St. Louis
1865 Journey of the Common Council of the City of St. Louis to Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New York, Boston, and Manchester, N.H., September 17 to October 7, 1865 to visit water works.
1867 An act to enable the city of St. Louis to procure a supply of wholesome water. March 13, 1867.
1867 Semi-Annual Report of the Board of Water Commissioners, submitted to the City Council of the City of St. Louis, November 1, 1867. Also includes reports for 1868 through 1876 or so.
1868 An act to amend an act entitled "An act to enable the city of St. Louis to procure a supply of wholesome water," passed March 13, 1867." March 23, 1868.
1868 City of St. Louis v. Henry Tiefel, 42 Mo. 578, Supreme Court of Missouri, October term, 1868.
1868 Recommended that an
engine of the same style as the "Ajax" be constructed.The contract was
awarded to Messrs. G. B. Allen & Co., and the machine completed May
20th, 1868. The cost of this engine, known as the "G. B. Allen", complete,
set up, and in running order, was $31,730.59, exclusive of foundations.
The steam cylinder 34 1/2 inches in diameter, pump double-acting, and 28
1/2 inches in diameter; each 10 feet stroke.
1869 Report on the Filtration of River Waters, for the Supply of Cities, as Practised in Europe: Made to the Board of Water Commissioners of the City of St. Louis, by James P. Kirkwood
1870 The Early History of St. Louis and
Missouri: From Its First Exploration by White Men in 1673 to 1843,
by Elihu Hotchkiss Shepard
Page 93: 1829 - Daniel D. Page was elected Mayor of the city, and entered upon the discharge of the duties of his office with the entire confidence of the people, which he always retained while he would consent to hold the office. His administration is remarkable chiefly for the inauguration of the present water works system.
1871 "The St. Louis Water Works. Banquet and Successful Trial of the Engines made by the Knapp Fort Pitt Foundry," Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette, March 13, 1871, Page 2.
1872 An act to authorize the city of Saint Louis to issue and dispose of additional bonds to enable it to extend and protect its water-works. February 2, 1872.
1872 An act amendatory and supplementary to an entitled "An act to enable the city of St. Louis to procure a supply of wholesome water." approved March 23, 1868. March 29, 1872.
1873 An act amendatory and supplementary to an act amendatory of and supplementary to an act entitled "An act to enable the city of St. Louis to procure a supply of wholesome water." approved March 23, 1868. March 24, 1873.
Louis, the Future Great City of the World, by Logan Uriah
Page 28: By the same authority it is stated that there were only two American families in the place --those of Calvin Adams and Williams Sullivan.
Page 29: The only American tavern was kept by a man named Adams.
Page 30: The necessity of some means of transportation to and fro across the river had led to the establishment of a small ferry, which was kept by Calvin Adams and proved a paying enterprise.
Page 188-194: Water as an important auxiliary to the growth of a great city, and the advantage possessed St. Louis for an inexhaustible supply.
1874 An act to amend section two of an act amendatory of an act entitled "An act to enable the city of St. Louis to procure a supply of wholesome water," approved March 24, 1868. March 30, 1874.
1874 An act to amend an act approved March 24, 1873, entitled "An act amendatory of and supplementary to an act amendatory of and supplementory to an act entitled 'an act to enable the city of St. Louis to procure a supply of wholesome water,'" approved March 23, 1868. March 31, 1874.
1875 During the winter of 1874-75 the engines "Ajax" and "Hercules" were dismantled , and the scrap sold. During the latter part of the same year the "Allen" engine ... was sold at auction
Pipes," from The St. Louis Republican, March
21, 1875, Page 11.
In May, 1831, a competent civil engineer made an estimate of the cost of the works when completed, placing it at thirty-five thousand dollars. [The 1831 report by the water works committee shows that this estimate was actually made by Abraham Fox, and increased to $35,000 by the committee to provide a contingency. See 1831 report.]
1875 Proceedings of the Semi-Centennial
Celebration of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, N. Y.
Page 26: Class of 1861. Thaddeus S. Smith, C. E., Assistant Engineer on the St. Louis Water Works.
1876 "The Water Works," from Saint Louis: The Future Great City of the World: with Biographical Sketches of the Representative Men and Women of St. Louis and Missouri, by Logan Uriah Reavis.
1876 An Illustrated History of Missouri,
by Walter Bickford Davis and Daniel Steele Durrie
Pages 444-445: The water works is one of the grand enterprises of St. Louis. On the 27th of September, 1829, the city contracted with John C. Walsh and Abraham Fox for supplying the city with “clarified water;” that the water should be distributed through the city in cast-iron pipes three and an half feet under ground, together with several other important stipulations, and in return the contractors were granted the exclusive right of furnishing water to the citizens for twenty-five years. Although this contract was never fully executed, and the city came into full proprietorship of the works in 1835, yet from this point may be dated the grand enterprise by which to-day the city is so abundantly supplied with water. The old system being found insufficient, in March, 1867, the legislature passed an act enabling “St. Louis to procure a supply of wholesome water,” and under this act the Governor appointed Alexander Crozier, Henry Flad, and Amadu Valle the first Board of Commissioners. The act conferred on the city power to issue bonds denominated “St. Louis Water Bonds,” not to exceed $3,500,000 for the erection of the works. The old water works with all appurtenances, consisting in part of eighty-one miles of pipe, two high pressure engines, with pumps and machinery, and reservoirs, were transferred to the new board, and work commenced. The average daily consumption at that time was 6,500,000 gallons. The new works are located at Bissell's Point, and the grounds contain one hundred acres. The buildings are built of cut stone and pressed brick, and possess great architectural beauty. Situated two hundred feet from the river bank is an iron tower, ten by twenty feet in size and eighty feet deep, built on the solid rock at the bottom of the river. Through gates upon the east side, the water enters the tower, and is conveyed by means of an iron pipe, five feet six inches in diameter, to the engine pit, from whence it is pumped to the settling basins, at the rate, if necessary, of 50,000,000 gallons per day. There are four settling basins, each 270 feet wide and 600 feet long, holding from eighteen to twenty millions of gallons each. In these basins the water is allowed to settle for twenty-four hours, when it is conveyed by its own gravity through a brick conduit, a distance of several hundred feet, to the clear well, near the high service engine house, and from thence it is pumped through 36 inch pipes to the stand pipe, situated on Grand avenue and Fourteent street; thence it is carried by its own gravity to Compton Hill reservoir, and other parts of the city. This reservoir is situated nearly four miles from the stand pipe, and is regarded as the great achievement of the new regime. It is 830 feet long, 500 feet wide, and 22 feet deep, and has a capacity of 60,000,000 gallons. The influx pipe is thirty inches in diameter, while the efflux pipe, which feeds the supply pipes leading in every direction, is twenty inches. in diameter. The present consumption of water averages about 22,000,000 gallons per day. The system as it now stands, the pride, comfort, and safety of the people, has cost in round numbers $5,000,000.
1878 "St. Louis Water Works," from A tour of St. Louis; or, The inside life of a great city, by Joseph A. Dacus and James William Buel
1879 "Waste of Water in St. Louis," from Engineering News 6:385 (November 29, 1879)
1881 St. Louis, Engineering News, 8:142-143 & 151 (April 9 & 16, 1881)
1881 Alton Telegraph, July 21, 1881,
The brilliant electric light on the St. Louis Water Works Tower, is plainly visible in this city. Residents on top of the hills say it resembles the appearance of a very large star, and presents a beautiful sight.
of St. Clair County, Illinois. With illustrations ... and biographical
sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers
Page 301: Wiggins' Ferry and the Bridge. Calvin Adams
1882 St. Louis from "The Water-Supply of Certain Cities and Towns of the United States," by Walter G. Elliot, C. E., Ph. D.
1883 History of Saint Louis City and County:
From the Earliest Periods to the Present Day: Including Biographical
Sketches of Representative Men, Volume 1, by John Thomas
Pages 780-788: "Water-Works"
Page 780: The first plans were drawn by Thaddeus S. Smith, civil engineer. [Scharf makes what appears to be the earliest reference to Thaddeus S. Smith being the enginer for the first water works, but the only civil engineer by that name graduated from Rensaellaer Polytechnic Institute in 1861 and was an engineer with the city of St. Louis for some time after the civil war, see 1875 and 1909 references.]
Page 790: Before this date, however (in 1819), it is said, the citizens raised by private subscription a sufficient amount to purchase two small rotary fire engines in Cincinnati. They arrived in due time, and for many years were kept in very unsatisfactory quarters. Up to 1826 they were operated by the citizens in general. One of these primitive engines was called the "None-Such," and is described as having been "a large square box on wheels, said wheels being not over eighteen inches in diameter, the whole being painted red and black. The internal pumping machinery was worked by two large iron wheels, one on each side, revolved by the hands of persons standing on the ground, communicating the power through cogs." The first two fire-engines finally became so much out of repair that they were practically useless, and the populace returned to the " good old way" of extinguishing fires with buckets. [The 1895 history by M. L. Holman - see below - says that the first pump was unsatisfactory and "was replaced by two rotary pumps which the city had purchased for fire engines." Later accounts of Asahel Hubbard's Rotary Pump - see 1920, 1922, 1923 and 1937 references - might clarify this, but more research is needed to find a primary source.]
Page 822: Fires. 1833. July 15.--The building containing the engine of the city water-works was burnt down, and the machinery of the engine destroyed. [Looking for more information on this event, including how long the water supply was out of service and the repair or replacement of the machinery.]
1883 Life on the Mississippi, by
Pages 166-167: When I went up to my room, I found there the young man called Rogers, crying. Rogers was not his name; neither was Jones, Brown, Dexter, Ferguson, Bascom, nor Thompson; but he answered to either of these that a body found handy in an emergency; or to any other name, in fact, if he perceived that you meant him. He said—
'What is a person to do here when he wants a drink of water?—drink this slush?'
'Can't you drink it?'
'I could if I had some other water to wash it with.'
Here was a thing which had not changed; a score of years had not affected this water's mulatto complexion in the least; a score of centuries would succeed no better, perhaps. It comes out of the turbulent, bank-caving Missouri, and every tumblerful of it holds nearly an acre of land in solution. I got this fact from the bishop of the diocese. If you will let your glass stand half an hour, you can separate the land from the water as easy as Genesis; and then you will find them both good: the one good to eat, the other good to drink. The land is very nourishing, the water is thoroughly wholesome. The one appeases hunger; the other, thirst. But the natives do not take them separately, but together, as nature mixed them. When they find an inch of mud in the bottom of a glass, they stir it up, and then take the draught as they would gruel. It is difficult for a stranger to get used to this batter, but once used to it he will prefer it to water. This is really the case. It is good for steamboating, and good to drink; but it is worthless for all other purposes, except baptizing.
1885 Report of the Board of Public
Improvements on Proposed Extension of the St. Louis Water Works
Statement "A" showing financial results if Interest on Water Bonds be paid out of Interest Revenue | Diagram No. 1 |
Statement "B" showing financial results if Interest on Water Bonds be paid out of Water Works Revenue | Diagram No. 2 |
St. Louis City Water Works Extension. Profiles Showing Elevations.
Section of Conduit for Carrying Water from Settling Basins at Chain of Rocks to Filter Beds at Bissell's Point.
Plan of Water Works. Low Service Extension, located at Bissell's Point.
Plan of Waterworks Low Service Extension, Located at Chain of Rocks.
Map Showing Northeastern Portion of St. Louis County
1886 Annals of St. Louis in Its Early Days
Under the French and Spanish Dominations, by By Frederic
Pages 82-83: Water. For some years after the commencement of the village settlement there were no wells sunk, the underlying formation being limestone but a few feet below the surface and cropping out at various points, particularly on the edge of the bluffs, where the rock was bare along the whole front. With the exception of two or three springs, the inhabitants used the river water for all purposes, and for this reason the lots along the river front were first sought and built upon.
The water was hauled up from the river in a barrel laid across two sappling poles which served for shafts, called a "drag." After a time a few wells were sunk, back on the second and third streets, but as they had to bore through the limestone bed-rock of the village in their excavation they cost much money and but few undertook them.
Col. Chouteau, who lived on his block almost sixty-five years, had made two attempts on different parts of the same; one of them was unsuccessful, the other, after going to the depth of one hundred feet, at great cost, procured a little water, but a very inadequate supply.
Besides, it was only in the summer time that a little cold water was needed for drinking purposes, there being then no ice put up, but the river water was universally preferred, as being more wholesome and palatable.
Page 401: Calvin Adams came here from Connecticut at the close of the century with a wife and sons. In 1801 he lived in a small house, built by Pierre Roy, blacksmith, at the northwest corner of Main and Plum. About the year 1814, he went with others to Old Mexico, leaving his family here, from which he never returned, being killed in the revolution in that country.
of St. Louis in its territorial days, from 1804 to 1821; being a
continuation of the author's previous work, the Annals of the French
and Spanish period, by Frederic Louis Billon
Page 9: 1804 December 18. First Grand Jury. Calvin Adams
Page 11: 1805 Monday, April 29th, special session. Calvin Adams, Andre Andreville and Wm. Sullivan, of St. Louis, were licensed to keep tavern.
1888 "St. Louis," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 1.
1890 "St. Louis," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 2.
1891 "St. Louis," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 3.
St. Louis Water Works," Association of Engineering Societies,
14(1):1-51 (January, 1895) includes:
I. Historical, by Minard LaFevre Holman, read March 7, 1894. Holman
II. Points of Interest in the Design and Construction by S. Bent Russell, read March 21, 1894.
III. New Machinery, by John A. Laird, read April 4, 1894.
IV. Quality of the Supply, by Robert E. McMath, read April 18, 1894.
V. The Filtration of City Water Supplies in Light of Recent Researches, by Robert Moore, read May 2, 1894.
1897 "St. Louis," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 4.
1899 "City Water Works," from Encyclopedia of the History of St. Louis: A Compendium of History and Biography for Ready Reference, Volume 4, edited by William Hyde and Howard Louis Conard
1902 Report on the water supply of the city of St. Louis, by the Commission of Hydraulic Engineers
1909 "Early History of the St. Louis Water Works," Water and Gas Review 20(2):10-11 (August 1909)
1909 St. Louis, the Fourth City, 1764-1909,
Volume 2, by Walter Barlow Stevens
Page 546: A reservoir on top of one of the mounds was the beginning of water works for St. Louis. The mound selected was east of Broadway, not far from Ashley street. It was adjoining the home of General Ashley, one of the show places of St. Louis in 1830. About that year the movement for water works obtained practical form. This reservoir held 230,000 gallons, which, according to con temporaneous comment, was "amply sufficient for the wants of the city of that period." The water was pumped from the river into this reservoir a distance of about four blocks. Before 1840 an increase in the capacity of the reservoir was necessary. It was 60,000 gallons. The city had grown in ten years from 6,000 to 16,000.
The next decade, from 1840 to 1850, sent the population up from 16,000 well toward the 100,000 mark. The water problem became serious. As a temporary expedient, wooden walls were erected to increase the capacity of the mound reservoir to 400,000 gallons. This was soon inadequate as to capacity. Moreover, it lacked the pressure to distribute the water to all parts of the city. A mile or more to the westward, north of Cass avenue, about Twenty-second street, the city obtained a site and built a reservoir with walls of masonry to hold 7,900,000 gallons. Almost before that was finished plans were made for a reservoir to contain 32,000,000 gallons. The engines worked night and day to meet the demand. In 1854 the city was using 3,500,000 gallons a day. That year St. Louis had forty miles of water pipe. A new industry had been born. Until about 1847 water pipe was brought to St. Louis from iron works up the Cumberland or the Ohio river. John Stacker obtained the first contract to supply the city with water pipe. In 1846 or 1847 the Garrisons proposed to manufacture water pipe and were encouraged by an order from the city. That was six-inch to ten-inch pipe. In 1849 Palm & Robinson began to make twenty-inch pipe. Two years later Graham & Co. became water pipe makers. Peter Brooks was highly complimented in the newspapers when he had completed his addition to the water works in 1843. The addition was described as "one hundred feet each way and twelve feet deep." It was constructed of planks and was "caulked and pitched" like the hull of a steamboat.
1909 St. Louis, the Fourth City, 1764-1909,
Volume 3, by Walter Barlow Stevens
Page 35: Thaddeus S. Smith, long connected with the music trade in St. Louis, was born in Mobile, Alabama, in 1840 but when three years of age was brought to this city by his parents, Sol and Martha Smith. In the schools of this city the son pursued his early education and afterward attended the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute of Troy, New York. When the war was over he returned to St. Louis and here took up the profession of civil engineering, in which connection he assisted in the building of the Grand avenue reservoir.
1910 The Story of Coal and Iron in Alabama, Ethel Armes | Reprinted 2011 | also here (subscription required) |
1911 St. Louis, the Fourth City, 1764-1911,
Volume 1, by Walter Barlow Stevens
Page 94: In the old records of the municipality is told the story of the narrow escape St. Louis had from a proposed public work which would have been a serious error. In 1835, the city authorities, after much investigation, selected what is now the site of the court house on Fourth street as the most fitting place for water works. It is recorded that "on the written application of John W. Johnson, mayor of the city of St. Louis," commissioners were authorized by the city authorities to select a piece of ground for the reservoir, the mayor stating, among other things, that "in his opinion there is no vacant place more suitable for that purpose than the public square on which the court house is erected." The court appointed Marie Leduc and Rene Paul commissioners. These commissioners were to take up the subject with the city authorities and report on the expense of locating the reservoir where the court house now is. The record gave the first name of Mr. Leduc as "Mary." Mr. Leduc was christened "Marie." A curious publication made by one of the newspapers was that Mr. Leduc "took the name of his deceased wife out of respect to her memory." The investigation satisfied the city authorities that the mound near Ashley street and Fifth street was a better location for the proposed reservoir than the court house site. In that day commissioners were appointed to undertake various public duties. According to the record, Henry S. Geyer, who became later one of the foremost members of the bar and a United States senator, "was appointed a commissioner to erect a lightning rod on the north side of the court house."
The location of the waterworks was not settled without a stubborn contest in the board of aldermen. David Hill was on one side, in favor of conservative action. Sam Gaty took the other view, that the city was growing and that provision should be made on a liberal scale for a much larger population. In that day, men who worked about the foundries were accustomed to take very strong snuff to clear the bronchial tubes and lungs of the small particles of iron in the dust. On the night when the waterworks issue was to reach the crisis Gaty carried to the meeting a package of this foundry snuff. As Hill was about to make a speech on the Big Mound proposition Gaty passed along his snuff box with the invitation:
"Mr. Hill, take a pinch of snuff?"
"Yes, I will," replied Mr. Hill, putting his thumb and forefinger into the box and taking a big dose. Unaccustomed to the foundrymen's brand Hill sneezed and sneezed until he was obliged to leave the room, the shouts of laughter following him to the door. Gaty won the fight, and the larger plan was adopted.
Page 111: Investigation of the water conditions showed that in the near future St. Louis must prepare for a more abundant supply. Mayor Francis obtained authority from the council to buy the present site at the Chain of Rocks and to inaugurate the removal and building of new water works with a conduit. For this purpose the municipal assembly made an appropriation of $1,000,000.
Pages 121-123: Water purification.
1913 Report to the Board of public improvements on the water supply of St. Louis, by the water commissioner, Edward E. Wall.
1914 Report of St. Louis Public Service Commission to the municipal assembly of St. Louis on the St. Louis water works.
1914 History of the St. Louis fire department, with a review of great fires, and sidelights upon the methods of fire-fighting from ancient to modern times, from the lesson of the vast importance of having efficient firemen may by drawn Only brief references to water supply.
1915 "St. Louis Filter Plant Opened," Municipal Journal, 38(20):700 (May 20, 1915) | Illustration here |
Years Among the Indians and Mexicans, by Thomas James
Page 230: Note 1. Calvin Adams, one of the few Americans in upper Louisiana during Spanish times, came to St. Louis from Connecticut about the beginning of the nineteenth century.
1917 "Improved Efficiency of the St. Louis Pumping Stations," by Leonard A. Day, Journal of the American Water Works Association 4(4):417- 431. (December 1917)
1920 "St. Louis Bought First City Pump with Horse," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 15, 1920, Page 10. This is the first known reference to the Hubbard pump in St. Louis.
1920 Annual Report of the Water Commissioner of the City of St. Louis
of Early Windsor Industries in the Mechanic Arts," A paper read
before the Vermont Historical Society at Windsor, September 4, 1922, by
Guy Hubbard. Proceedings of the
Vermont Historical Society for the years 1921, 1922, and 1923.
Page 169-170: One of the earliest and most important orders was for the twenty horse power pump of the first water works of the city of St. Louis. This "huge pump" was built at Windsor and in the spring of 1830 it was taken by the inventor to St. Louis; the journey being made by wagon over the Green Mountains to Albany, thence by the Erie canal to Buffalo, and by lake steamer to Chicago, (which was then but a small settlement) and then by wagon and river boat to St. Louis. The pump was successfully installed by Asahel Hubbard, but when he came to settle the bill he discovered that the Aquaduct Company did not have sufficient cash to pay for it. A collection was then taken up among the citizens by the forerunners of the present Chamber of Commerce, and this additional amount, together with a white saddle horse "to boot", was accepted by the inventor as payment in full.
Asahel Hubbard and his horse returned by the same route by which he went West, and months after his departure he rode into Windsor, where his mount was long remembered by the old inhabitants as the "St. Louis Horse."
of Machine Tools in New England," by Guy Hubbard. American Machinist
59(13):463-467 (September 27, 1923). A portrait of Asahel
Hubbard (1787-1845) is shown on page 390.
Page 465: The First Water Works. In 1829, Mayor Daniel D. Page and the Board of Aldermen of St. Louis, set on foot a movement to build the first water-works for that rapidly growing city and a firm of contractors, Wilson & Fox, undertook the work. Through Charles Manser, its agent at St. Louis, The National Hydraulic Co., in 1830, was given an order to build a revolving hydraulic engine of 20 hp., capable of raising water from the Mississippi and forcing it through 1,300 ft. of iron pipe into a 230,310-gal. reservoir. The reservoir was located on top of one of the mounds on the east side of what was later called Broadway, near the residence of Gen. W. H. Ashley, and was 104 ft. above the normal level of the river.
This "huge pump" was built at once and under the direction of the inventor was taken to St. Louis, being transported by wagon over the Green Mountains at Albany, by canalboat from Albany to Buffalo, by lake steamer from Buffalo to Chicago (then only a small settlement) and by wagon and riverboat from Chicago to St. Louis. This journey lasted for several weeks but both the inventor and the pump arrived safely at the then "far western" city. Under Asahel Hubbard's direction the pump was attached to a steam engine built by Francis Pratt of Pittsburgh and coupled to the mains which had been cast by Vanleer & Co. and Woods, Stacker & Co. at their iron works in Tennessee.
The pump worked very satisfactorily, but when it came to settling the bill, it was discovered that the water company did not have suflncient money on hand to pay for it. A committee of citizens, forerunners of the very progressive St. Louis Chamber of Commerce, then took up a collection but still there was a deficit, so these patriotic citizens presented the inventor with a fine, pure-white saddle horse. Asahel Hubbard, who was by that time anxious to return home, was glad to accept this as payment of the balance. Taking the cash in gold in a money belt, he rode the horse to Davenport, Iowa, where he had other business and from there he and the horse journeyed back to Windsor by the same route and method by which he had gone west. His arrival in Windsor on his St. Louis horse was an event long remembered by the old residents.
The revolving hydraulic engine remained in use at the St. Louis Water Works, with another type of pump later added, until 1848, when it was replaced by a new steam pump of 150 horsepower.
1925 St Louis Water Works pamphlet
1926 "St. Louis Builds New Waterworks," by Edward E. Wall, Director of Public Utilities, City of St. Louis. Aquafax 2(8):5-16 (January, 1926)
1926 "A History of the Water Works of St.Louis, from their inception in the year 1829 to the year 1868," from the Manuscript of Thomas Jefferson Whitman, Chief Engineer of Water Works, 1867-1876; Edited and Annotated by Thomas E. Flaherty, Assistant Engineer, Distribution Section, from Annual Report of the Water Commissioner of the City of St. Louis for the year ending April 12th, 1926. Whitman was the brother of writer Walt Whitman.
1929 "New Missouri River Water Works of Saint Louis," by Leonard A. Day, Journal of the American Water Works Association, 21(4) 485-510 (April, 1929)
1930 "St. Louis Water Works," from The Mueller Record 19(211):20-24 (March, 1930)
1930 "Development of the Water Distribution System for a Greater St. Louis, Mo.," by Thomas J. Skinker, Meyer Serkes, V. Bernard Siems, J. B. Eddy and Louis E. Ayres, Journal of the American Water Works Association 22(12):1583-1608. (December 1930)
1931 "St. Louis Water Works: A Century of Operation," John C. Pritchard, Official proceedings of the annual Convention - American Society of Municipal Engineers 37:253-267 (October 1931)
1934 "The Howard Bend Plant of the St. Louis Water Works," by C. M. Daily, Journal of the American Water Works Association, 26(4):495-500 (April, 1934)
1935 "St. Louis installs 13-Mile Conduit," by Cornelius M. Daily, Water Commissioner of St. Louis, Mo,. Water Works Engineering 88:476, 479, 480. (May 1, 1935)
1937 "Waterworks on Air: John B. Dean Gives Interesting Story Concerning the St. Louis System," from The Mueller Record 27(267):16-19 (November, 1937)
1959 The Urban Frontier: The Rise of
Western Cities, 1790-1830, by Richard C. Wade.
Pages 94-95: As early as 1810 Calvin Adams petitioned the trustees of St. Louis for "exclusive privileges" for "bringing fresh water into the Town by Mean [sic] of Pipes." Though no community actually embarked on such an ambitious project, Pittsburgh and Lexington had similar suggestions under consideration before 1815.
Note 45 - St. Louis, Minutes, August 16, 1810; Pittsburgh Gazette, November 26, 1813, and Lexington, Trustees Book, November 4, 1813.
Page 297: By 1830 work had begun on installations, but no water moved through the pipes until the next decade. [!]
1962 "St. Louis," from Public Water Supplies of the 100 Largest Cities in the United States, 1962, US Geological Survey Water Supply Paper 1812, by Charles Norman Durfor and Edith Becker
Louis: An Informal History of the City and Its People, 1764-1865,
by Charles Van Ravenswaay
Page 226: [Samuel Gaty} When work began on the St. Louis waterworks in 1837, Gaty's rapidly expanding company supplied the water pipes. As alderman Gaty argued for a water plant large enough to provide for future needs. Capt. David B. Hill, a local mechanic (his pet project was a perpetual motion machine) rose to speak against Gaty's proposition. Gaty, knowing Hill's fondness for snuff, courteously handed him his box. Hill took a tremendous "gorge," turned to address the aldermen---and began to sneeze. "Mr. President," he tried again, but got no farther. The board began to laugh. Hill's sneezes continued and he finally had to run for the door. Gaty's proposal for a really adequate waterworks was approved.
Page 248: With the city's growth came an increasing need for a water supply. Most housewives were tired of struggling with water jars; merchants, fearing that the downtown clutter of old wooden buildings invited a devastating fire, also favored a water system for better fire protect.ion. In 1829 the city contracted with J. C. Wilson and Abraham Fox to build a waterworks, acquiring a lot for a reservoir from Gen. William H. Ashley on the "Little Mound" at the corner of Ashley and Collins streets and an additional lot at the foot of Bates Street for a pumping site on the river. The contract also provided for a water hydrant at the Sisters of Charity Hospital and pipes to the fot1ntain in General Ashley's lawn on North Broadway. When available funds had been spent, Mayor Daniel D. Page supplied more, showing the strong civic interest that would make him one of the city's most generous benefactors. Water flowed to a few outlets in 1831, but financial difficulties arose and Fox became the sole owner. He operated the utility for a time, but found it so unprofitable that he sold the plant to the city in 1835.
Page 297: February, 1835. The waterworks helped by supplying more water than usual, but it was clear that the pipes were too small for an emergency.
2001 "The Water Wizard:
John F. Wixford and the Purification of the St. Louis Water Supply in
1904," by Christine Froechtenigt Harper, Dissertation, American
Studies, Saint Louis University, June 2001.
Abstract: Native St. Louisan John F. Wixford, today a forgotten local hero, transformed the murky output of the city’s waterworks into sparkling streams, making possible at a nominal cost the fairy-tale atmosphere of the World’s Fair of 1904 and providing the people of his city with clean water from the tap. The clarification of the water supply was the most important civic improvement effected in St. Louis during the Progressive Era, if not in the entire history of the city. Yet the controversy that erupted around Wixford and his work encompassed wider issues of its time, including the nationwide rise of the professions and its attendant jealousies, a violently partisan political climate in which every act and personality was fraught with political significance, conflicts between ethnic and socioeconomic groups, and the challenge of social acceptance faced by odd ducks such as Wixford in an age of conformity.
2004 “The Water Wizard: John F. Wixford and the Purification of the St. Louis Water Supply in 1904.” By Christine Froechtenigt Harper, Missouri Historical Review, 99(1):24-45 (October 2004)
2005 "A Summer of Terror: Cholera in St. Louis, 1849," by Linda A. Fisher, Missouri Historical Review 99(3):189-211. (April 2005)
Lewis, by Thomas C. Danisi
Page 121: Return to St. Louis. There was a bill of exchange for $91.50 to the tavern keepers Calvin Adams and William Christy who put on the big celebration two days after the expedition returned.
Songs: Suing for Freedom before Dred Scott, by by Lea
References to Calvin Adams' divorce from his wife Sally.
© 2016 Morris A. Pierce