Documentary History of American Water-works

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Middle Atlantic States New York Albany 1678 Water System

1678 Water System in Albany, New York

In June, 1678, the commander of Fort Frederick (built to replace the Dutch Fort Orange) ordered the installation of water pipeline made of wooden logs.  Local residents were ordered not to dump water near the water supply wells.  By 1686 the water lines supplied small reservoirs in each of the three wards, and the Common Council ordered the High Constable to replace the "rotted spouts" that convey water.

Remains of this system were discovered in 1972 during construction of I-787 in downtown Albany, as mentioned in the 1972 and 1984 references below.

My thanks to archaeologist Paul Huey for the 1678 and 1680 references

1678 Volume II 1675-1680 of the Minutes of the Court of Albany, Rensselaerswyck and Schenectady 1668-1685 Translated and edited by A. J. F. Van Laer (1926)
Page 331:  Extraordinary session held in Albany, June 17, 1678 Present: Capt. Salsbury, commander Capt. Phill. Schuyler Mr Rich. Pretty Mr A. Teller Mr D. Wessells
The commander, Capt. Silvester Salisbury, sets forth the necessity of conducting the spring (f Fonteyn) into the fort in case there should be occasion for it and says he is willing to procure all the materials except 18 one-fathom pine logs, 30 feet in length, and 8 oaken posts, 16 feet in length and 7 inches square, which he urges their honors to have hauled by inhabitants of the colony, etc.
The honorable court, having taken the matter into consideration, recommend the matter to Director Dom. Renselaer, to have 14 of the pine logs and the 8 oaken posts hauled by the inhabitants of the colony; the remaining 4 logs Cloet and the other farmers at Canastagioene are ordered to haul.
Page 337:  At the request of Capt. Silves. Salisbury, commander, you are ordered to notify the burghers of this city that the companies at half strength are to present themselves with shovel and spade at the new fort on the hill, to dig there what shall be pointed out to them in order that the spring (het fonteyn) may be conducted into the new fort aforesaid. The carpenters and wheel- rights are to be exempt from this duty as they prepare the timber for that purpose. The first half-company is to appear tomorrow morning, being the 9th of July, at the ringing of the bell, and so on every day as many as are needed. Actum in Albany, July 8, 1678.
Page 446: [October 7, 1679) The well masters of both wells are hereby ordered and strictly enjoined to see to it that no water is poured out near the wells and that no rinsing is done there, in the space around the wells, which is to be paved.

1686 Albany Chronicles: A History of the City Arranged Chronologically, from the Earliest Settlement to the Present Time compiled by Cuyler Reynolds (1906)
Page 112: August 1686 Water furnished the city through long logs bored with a two-inch hole, from a pond created at the head of Yonkers (State) street by a dam, and called the "Fountain," whence it is distributed to a city well in each of the three wards.

September 14, 1686 Common Council orders High Constable Isaac Verplanck to replace the "rotted spouts" that convey water from "ye fountain from ye hill into ye city," * * * "in ye space of a fortnight" or forfeit 40 shillings.

1680 Journal of Jasper Danckaerts, 1679-1680 edited by Bartlett Burleigh James and J. Franklin Jameson (1913)
Page 216-217:  [April 30, 1680] Before we quit Albany, we must say a word about the place. It was formerly named the Fuyck by the Hollanders, who first settled there, on account of two rows of houses standing there, opposite to each other, which being wide enough apart in the beginning, finally ran quite together like a fuyck, and, therefore, they gave it this name, which, although the place is built up, it still bears with many, especially the Dutch and Indians living about there. It is nearly square, and lies against the hill, with several good streets, on which there may be about eighty or ninety houses. Fort Orange, constructed by the Dutch, lies below on the bank of the river, and is set off with palisades, filled in with earth on the inside. It is now abandoned by the English, who have built a similar one behind the town, high up on the declivity of the hill, from whence it can command the place. From the other side of this fort the inhabitants have brought a spring or fountain of water, under the fort, and under ground into the town, where they now have in several places always fountains of clear, fresh, cool water. 

Page 198, note 3: The fuyck is a hoop-net used for catching fish. Its shape is that of a truncated cone. The ground-plan of Albany had that shape.

1972 "Early Water Canal Found Under State Street" Albany Times-Union Pages B-1 and B-5, (August 6, 1972

1972 "Street-Digging Yields Picture of Old Albany," Albany Times-Union, Page B-2 (August 6, 1972)

1984 "Dutch Sites of the 17th Century in Rensselaerswyck" by Paul R. Huey, in The Scope of Historical Archaeology edited by David G. Orr and Daniel G. Crozier  | Also here |

2015 Morris A. Pierce