Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography
Middle Atlantic States
New Jersey Burlington

Burlington, New Jersey

Burlington was settled by Europeans around 1677.  

The Burlington Aqueduct Company was incorporated on October 31, 1804 by William Coxe, Thomson Neale, Abraham Stockton, and John Hoskins Jr. for the purpose of "supplying the city of Burlington with pure and wholesome water."  The company built an system using water from Crow Hill distributed through used wooden logs purchased from the City of Philadelphia, which was converting its distribution network to cast iron pipes. As with earlier charters in New Jersey, "not more than four rods in the said highways or streets may be dug up at one time nor kept open more than six days, Provided also, That the said pavement or earth shall be replaced at the expcnce of the said company in as good condition as if the same had not been removed.

In 1843, Thomas Dugdale built a separate water system using iron pipes supplied by a steam-driven pump taking water from the Delaware River.  The city granted him permission to operate a general supply, providing that he would supply 25 fire hydrants free of charge. The pumping plant burned in 1844 and Dugdale built a new one, which is shown in a famous lithograph.  In 1848 Dugdale purchased the stock of the Aqueduct Company and in 1855 the city council authorized him to issue bonds that were secured by a mortgage on the system.   The financial panic of 1857 led to a general business recession and Dugdale defaulted on the bonds.  The system was sold at a sheriff's sale on June 11, 1860.  Prior to the sale, a law was passed granting relief to the company's creditors, and renaming the surviving company as the Burlington Water Company.

The City of Burlington was authorized to purchase the water works in 1873, but did not do so.  General water works laws passed in 1876 and 1877 were more favorable, especially after a large fire in the city in December 1876.

The City of Burlington bought the system in March, 1877 for $25,000 and currently supplies water to the community.

1804 An act to incorporate an aqueduct company in the City of Burlington, October 31, 1804

1859 An for the relief of the creditors of the Burlington Aqueduct Company, March 23, 1859.  New company to be called Burlington Water Company.

1873 An Act to authorize the inhabitants of the City of Burlington to purchase the works and franchises of the Burlington Water Company, March 11, 1873

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

1882 Burlington, N.J. from Engineering News 9:24 (January 21, 1882)

1883 "The Burlington Water-Works" from History of Burlington and Mercer Counties, New Jersey : with biographical sketches of many of their pioneers and prominent men by Evan Morrison Woodward and John Frelinghuysen Hageman.  This work erroneously states that the wood pipes from Philadelphia had been in use for 70 years, when in fact that system has only started in 1801.

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

1890 "Burlington," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 2.
Supply was so limited, and regulations to prevent its use so strict, that prominent citizen was fined $5 for giving some of this water to a horse.

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

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

1910 "Old Wooden Water Pipes" from American Contractor 31(14):106  (April 2, 1910)  This article repeats the error of the pipe age from the 1883 history.

2011 The City of Burlington’s Insatiable Need for a Clean and Dependable Water Supply, by by Jerseyman.  An excellent article with good documentation and many pictures.

© 2015 Morris A. Pierce