Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography
South Atlantic States
North Carolina Salem

Salem, North Carolina

Salem was originally settled in 1753 by Moravians.  It merged with the adjacent town of Winston in 1913 to form Winston-Salem

The first waterworks was built in Salem in 1778 by local residents Christian Triebel and Joannes Krause.  The waterworks were modeled after the similar Moravian system in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

The wood logs used in the first system began to fail by 1800, and many were replaced by earthen conduits that may have been produced by Samuel Bakewell in Charleston, Virginia (now Wellsburg, West Virginia).

In 1828 a new waterworks system was constructed using a combination of cast iron, ceramic, and wooden pipes.

The Salem Water Supply Company was incorporated on November 27, 1877 and built a third water system, which was purchased by the City of Salem in 1905.  Salem merged with neighboring Winston to form the City of Winston-Salem in 1913.

The waterworks are currently owned by the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Utility Commission.

The City of Winston-Salem has an excellent page on the early history of the Town of Salem that includes substantial details of the early water work as well as later works in Salem.

1882 Salem, from Engineering News, 9:189 (June 10, 1882)

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

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

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

1897 "Salem," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 4

1973 The Salem Waterworks: 1778-1913 by Robert W. Neilsen, Salem Moravian Museum and Archives

1981 "The Salem Water Works" by Linda Le Meiux in The Chronicle of the Early American Industries Association, Inc 11:18-20 (September, 1958)

2007 A History of Salem, North Carolina by J. D. Lewis
In the year 1791, the President of the United States, George Washington, visited for two days in the town of Salem. His main reason for visiting the town was to see the water delivery system that the Brethren had installed. Through a series of hollowed wood logs the Brethren were piping water from springs located some distance away to cisterns located throughout the town. Some of the major buildings, such as the Single Brothers house and the Tavern had the running water piped directly into the buildings.

Salem Waterworks Historical Marker

2015 Morris A. Pierce