Documentary History of American Water-works

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

Paterson, New Jersey

Paterson was established in 1792.

The Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures was incorporated in 1791 with extensive corporate powers, including the establishment of Paterson.  The Society chose to locate at the Great Falls of the Passaic River, and controlled all of the water above the falls.

The Paterson Water Company was incorporated in 1825 by Mark W. Collett, John Colt, Daniel Holsman, Robert King, and Robert Robertson for the "purpose of effectually supplying the said town and its inhabitants."  John Colt, Mark W. Collet, Daniel Holsman, James Van Blarcom, and Nesbit Taylor were appointed as commissioners to sell stock.  No evidence has been found that this company built a system.

The Passaic Water Company was incorporated in 1849 by William Cundell, John Hopper, Cornelius S. Van Wagoner, William Crosset, Stephen Allen, Patrick Maginnis, and Abraham Godwin "for supplying the town of Paterson and village of Manchester, within the limits aforesaid, with water sufficient for extinguishing fires, culinary and other family uses, watering the streets, and such other purposes as may conduce to the health and comfort of the citizens."  The charter required that work commence within two years, which was not done, and the charter was renewed in 1854 with Thomas D. Hoxsey, John J. Brown, Cornelius S. Van Wagoner, John Drew and Samuel Smith appointed as commissioners and incorporators.  This act also stated that "nothing in the said act creating the Passaic Water Company, or in this act, shall be construed to authorize or empower the said company to take, without the consent of the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures for that purpose had and obtained, any water for the purposes of said act from above the falls of the Passaic river at the city of Paterson."  The majority of capital stock was taken by John Ryle, who had water rights at the Passaic's lower falls.  He installed a water-powered pump that filled a reservoir at night, with a steam engine available for auxiliary use.  Water was delivered to part of the city in late 1856, and in September, 1856, the city of Paterson made a contract with the company for one hundred hydrants, which provided good service at a fire on December 30, 1856.

The system was not adequate, and and rights to use water and water power from the great falls was obtained in 1861, with additional steam engines added in 1878 and 1880.  Garret Augustus Hobart (1844-1899) became a director of the Passaic Water Company in 1885 and was elected president after Ryle's death in 1887.  Hobart was later Vice President of the United States from 1897 until his death in 1899. The East Jersey Water Company built a new filtration plant at Little Falls that came online in 1902, also providing a new source for the system.

The Passaic Consolidated Water Company was formed in 1923 to own the Passaic Water Company and other water companies.

The Passaic Valley Water Authority was formed in 1927 and took control of the Passaic Consolidated Water Company in 1930 after a legal battle over valuation.

Water is currently supplied by the Passaic Valley Water Commission, which has a history page and timeline.

1791 An act to incorporate the Contributors to the Society for establishing useful Manufactures, and for the further Encouragement of the said Society.  November 22, 1791. | Also here |

1825 An act to incorporate the Paterson Water Company.  December 9, 1825.

1849 An act to incorporate the Passaic Water Company.  February 13, 1849.

1854 An act to renew and re-establish an act entitled "An act to incorporate the Passaic Water Company," approved February thirteenth, eighteen hundred and forty-nine, and supplemental thereto. February 9, 1854.

1855 A supplement to the act entitled, "An act to renew and re-establish an act to incorporate the Passaic Water Company," approved February thirteenth, eighteen hundred and forty-nine, and supplemental thereto, approved February ninth, eighteen hundred and fifty-four. February 9, 1855.

1856 Newark Daily Advertiser, May 19, 1856, Page 2.
Paterson is to be supplied with the Passaic water and the works will be completed during the present summer.

1857 Newark Daily Advertiser, January 2, 1857, Page 2.
Destructive Fire at Patterson.  We learn from the Paterson Guardian the full particulars of a destructive fire there on Tursday night.  The supply of water from the new works was abundant, and but for that the entire block would have been destroyed.

1868 A further supplement to the act entitled, "An act to incorporate the Passaic Water Company," approved February thirteenth, eighteen hundred and forty-nine.  April 7, 1868.

1871 New York Tribune, May 5, 1871, page 8.
Paterson.- At the special election Wednesday, 2,658 votes were cast against the purchase of the Passaic Water Works, and 634 votes in favor of the project.  the total vote was 2,286 less than the number polled at the last charter election.

1872 A Further Supplement to the act entitled “An Act to incorporate the Passaic Water Company,” approved February thirteenth, one thousand eight hundred and forty-nine.  February 7, 1872.

1881 Paterson, Engineering News, 8:459 (November 12, 1881)

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

1882 "The Passaic Water Company," from A History of Industrial Paterson: Being a Compendium of the Establishment, Growth and Present Status in Paterson, N.J., of the Silk, Cotton, Flax, Locomotive, Iron and Miscellaneous Industries, by Levi R. Trumbull
Page 64:  Arkwright Manufacturing Company - There were two boilers of great capacity and a very powerful engine, the same that was purchased and set at work by the Passaic Water Company in 1880.

1886 Mary E. Ryle v. John Ryle, 41 NJ Eq 582, June Term, 1868, New Jersey Court of Errors and Appeals.

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

1888 Outline of Plans (with Illustrations) for Furnishing an Abundant Supply of Water to the City of New York: From a Source Independent of the Croton Watershed Delivered Into the Lower Part of the City Under Pressure Sufficient for Domestic, Sanitary, Commercial and Manufacturing Purposes, and for the Extinguishment of Fires, with Legal and Engineering and Other Papers, by John R. Bartlett  Passaic Water Company, Acquackanonk Water Company, West Milford Water Storage Company, Montclair Water Company

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

1890 "Paterson's Water Supply," by John J. Brown, from Paterson, New Jersey: Its Advantages for Manufacturing and Residence: Its Industries, Prominent Men, Banks, Schools, Churches, Etc, by Charles Anthony Shriner

1890 "Water for Jersey Towns," New York Times, November 9, 1890, Page 17.

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

1892 Report on the Passaic Water Company, by John W. Griggs, President, January 15, 1892.  Also includes comparative consumption and financial data for 1895 from Newark, Jersey City, Paterson and Passaic.

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

1899 "The East Jersey Water Company's Hydraulic Plant at Little Falls," The Engineering Record 40(6):122-444 (July 8, 1899)  Supplies the cities of Newark, Jersey City, Paterson and and a dozen or more smaller communities.

1901 "The Water Purification Works of the East Jersey Water Company at Little Falls, New Jersey," by George W. Fuller, The Engineering Record 43(19):442-444 (May 11, 1901)  Supplies filtered water to the cities of Paterson and Passaic.

1908 The Mayor and Aldermen of the City of Paterson v. The East Jersey Water Company, 74 NJ Eq 49, May 4, 1908. New Jersey Chancery Court.

1916 An Act to create two water supply districts in the State of New Jersey, to be known respectively as the North Jersey Water Supply District and the South Jersey Water Supply District.  March 16, 1916.

1916 An Act authorizing the appointment of district boards of water supply commissioners in the water supply districts created by an act entitled "An act to create two water supply districts in the State of New Jersey, to be known respectively as the North Jersey Water Supply District and the South Jersey Water Supply District," and defining the powers, duties, terms of office, and compensation of such commissioners; and providing for the obtaining, maintenance and operation of water supplies or new or additional water supplies by said commissioners as agents of and by contract with municipal and other corporations in their respective water districts, and further providing for the raising, collecting and expenditure of the moneys necessary therefor.  March 16, 1916.

1919 An Act to amend an act entitled "An act to create two water supply districts in the State of New Jersey, to be known respectively as the North Jersey Water Supply District and the South Jersey Water Supply District," approved March sixteenth, one thousand nine hundred and sixteen.  April 2, 1919.

1919 "A Matter of  Water Supply," Four Chapters of Paterson History: I. The War for Independence. II. The Early White Settlers. III. Struggle for Industrial Supremacy. IV. Municipal Administration, by Charles Anthony Shriner

1920 "Public Utilities," from History of Paterson and Its Environs (the Silk City): Historical- Genealogical - Biographical, Volume 2, by William Nelson and Charles Anthony Shriner

1923 The Wall Street Journal, November 1, 1923, Page 3.
Board of Public Utility Commission of New York has authorized formation of Passaic Consolidated Water Co. by Acquackanonck Water Co., East Jersey Water Co., Kearney Water Co., and Passaic Water Co. Property of marged companies is valued at more than $13,000,000, and consolidating agreement provides for capitalization of $11,500,000, of which $8,000,000 is to be bond and $3,500,000 stock.

1923 An Act to authorize two or more municipalities in this State by means of a commission to acquire, either by purchase or condemnation, and operate privately owned water works now or hereafter supplying water therein, and in other municipalities, if any, in which water is supplied by the same water works, together with the franchises, rights, and any or all other appurtenant property of the owner or owners, of such works, and to enlarge and extend the same.  March 23, 1923.

1930 New York Herald Tribune, October 22, 1930, Page 42.
3 Cities in Jersey to Get Control of Water System.  Paterson, Passaic and Clifton Take Title Friday.
Paterson, N. J., Oct 21.--The cities of Peterson, Passaic and Clifton will take title Friday to a large part of their combined water system, through the Passaic Valley Water Comission.  Representatives of the various interested banks, members of the commission and their counsel will formally take over the holdings of the Passaic Consolidated Water Company at 10 am Friday at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.  At the same time $16,400,000, the price of the holdings, will be paid to the clerk of the Court of Chancery.
A condemnation commission set $12,000,000 as the value of the water company's holdings, but when appeal was threatened a price of $13,000,000 was agreed upon.  The remaining $4,400,000 represents the value of property acquired subsequent to condemnation proceedings.  Including the Wanaque reservoir and aqueduct, the total cost of the system will be about $23,000,000.
James Wilson, president of the water commission, said an increase of about 15 percent in the water rates probably will be necessary, but he did not take it would last more than five years.

1936 "History of the Development of the Use of Water in Northeastern New Jersey,"  Charles H. Capen, Jr., Engineer, North Jersey District Water Supply Commission,  Newark, N. J., Journal of the American Water Works Association, 28(8):973-982 (August, 1936)

1962 "Patterson," 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

© 2015 Morris A. Pierce