Documentary History of American Water-works

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

Auburn, New York

Auburn was founded in 1793, incorporated as a village in 1815 and as a city in 1848.

The first water system was built to supply the Auburn state prison from a spring using bored tamarack logs.  Attempts were made in the 1820s to form a company and serve other customers, but they were unsuccessful.

The Auburn Water Works Company was incorporated in 1851 by John H. Chedel, Thomas Y. How, Jr., Abijah Fitch, Daniel Hewson, Samuel Blatchford, Aurelian Conkling, Cyrus C. Dennis, Henry Underwood, John Patty, William B. Wood, John Patten, George Clapp, John Porter, Isaac S. Allen, Edward E. Marvine, John Curtis and Benjamin Ashby "For the purpose of supplying the city of Auburn and towns adjacent thereto with pure and wholesome water."  This company did not build a system, at least partly due to concerns about the proposed source of water.

Another Auburn Water Works Company was incorporated in 1859 by William Beach, Benjamin F. Hall, Theodore Dimon, George W. Peck, Franklin L. Sheldon, Albert H. Goss, William H. Carpenter, John S. Clark and Paul D. Cornell "for the purpose of supplying the said city of Auburn with pure and wholesome water."  This company was not formed until March 23, 1863, when a new board of directors was elected.  A committee was formed in October to confer with the Auburn Common Council, inspectors of the State Prison, and the New York Central Railroad, and a second committee was established to investigate and report on "the best means and probable expense of supply the City of Auburn with water."  This second committee reported in November that they had visited Lockport and "were satisfied with the plan of Mr. Holly."  The company opened books for stock subscriptions on December 15th and the entire amount of $100,000 was taken in twelve hours.  On that same day the Auburn Common Council recommended altering the city charter to allow paying the Water Works Company $2,000 per year for the use of forty hydrants, which was amended by a law passed passed in February, 1864.  (AWWC, March 23, 1863; October 17, 1863; November 23, 1863; December 15, 1863)

The Holly Manufacturing Company had successfully demonstrated its first direct pressure water supply system in Lockport in August, 1863, and in November a committee from Auburn inspected the Lockport system.  They recommended that the company contract with Holly to build a water-driven pumping plant in Lockport, which was done in January, 1864.  The Auburn company built a pump house in which the Holly firm installed their machinery in late 1864.

In January, 1864, the company contracted with I. S. Hobbie & Co. of Rochester for supplying Wyckoff wood water pipe, which Hobbie had installed in Elmira in 1861.  For unknown reasons, Hobbie was unable to deliver the pipes and the company contracted with the Patent Water and Gas Pipe Company of New Jersey for cement-lined, wrought-iron pipes which were installed starting in August, 1865.  The piping system was completed in November and began service.  Hobbie was paid $1,000 in January, 1866 to settle his contract for pipe (AWWC January 18, 1866).

The Indianapolis Journal published an article about the Auburn system on April 26, 1866, giving details of a demonstration that included water being "thrown to the top of a church in the midst of the city, one hundred and sixty feet above the point of supply."  The article was reprinted in The Evansville Journal on May 1st, but the date of the water works demonstration is unknown, and no other paper is known to have published information about it.  One possibility is that the news came from Edward H. Avery or Herman Woodruff, who were director of the Auburn Water Works Company and the Indiana Central Canal Company.  Woodruff's son, James, would lead the effort to build a Holly water system in Indianapolis that began service in 1871 using water pumped by the canal. 

The Auburn system was the first Holly system that provided water for domestic use as well as fire protection, and was visited by numerous communities considering installation of Holly apparatus.  The Holly company was very successful in this business, and hired two Auburn residents, William Chatham Weir and Thomas E. Crowell, to work on new systems.  Weir and Crowell later designed and built several water works on their own.

Additional pumping capacity was installed in 1870 and 1879, the latter including a boiler to drive the pumps during period of low water.

The City of Auburn bought the Auburn Water Works Company on July 1, 1894 for $425,000.

Water is currently provided by the City of Auburn.

References and Timeline
1835 "Report of the Agent to the Board of Inspectors of the State Prison at Auburn," by Levi Lewis, December, 1835.  Assembly Document No. 125.
Page 14:  The water used for cooking in the prison, is brought in logs from a spring about 150 rods from the prison. Many of these logs have become decayed, and it is quite probable, that it will be necessary to remove all of them, in the course of the next summer. As a matter of economy, I would suggest the propriety of putting down lead pipe instead of pump-logs. The first cost would be considerable more for the pipe than for the logs; but I am confident, that, in time, the lead pipe would be the most economical and least expensive to the State.

1851 An act to incorporate the Auburn Water Works Company.  July 9, 1851.

1859 An act to incorporate the Auburn Water Works Company.  April 19, 1859.

1859 Auburn Weekly Union, July 13, 1859, Page 3.
July 6. William Cartright, Esq., of Philadelphia, has been in town to-day to consult with the Directors of the Auburn Water Works Company, concerning the water works in contemplation here.  He is connected with a House which has constructed more works of this kind than any other in the United States.

1864 "City Water Works," Auburn Daily Advertiser and Union, December 16, 1863, Page 3

1864 "Water Works—Auburn Ahead," Auburn Daily Advertiser and Union, January 16, 1864, Page 3

1864 An act relating to the city of Auburn, and to amend the charter thereof.  February 19, 1864.  Authorized the city of pay $2,000 for procuring a supply of water.

1864 "City Council," July 15, 1864, Daily State Sentinel (Indianapolis, Indiana), July 16, 1864, Page 3.
A special meeting of the City Council was called last night to take into consideration the matter of establishing water works for supply the city with water.
E. H. Avery, of Auburn, N.Y., a member of the Central Canal Company, detailed the plan of supply the city with water, and suggested that perhaps that plan might be adopted with reference to Indianapolis.  Mr. Avery made a lengthy and detailed statement with regard to machinery, pipes, &c., and thought the Auburn system was perfectly adapted to the necessities of Indianapolis.

1864 "The Water Works," Auburn Daily Advertiser and Union, July 28, 1864, Page 3

1865 "The Auburn Water Works," Auburn Daily Advertiser and Union, January 20, 1865, Page 3

1865 "The Water Works," Auburn Daily Advertiser and Union, August 22, 1865, Page 3

1865 "Auburn Water Works Co.," Auburn Daily Advertiser and Union, September 2, 1865, Page 3

1865 "A small army of laborers," Auburn Daily Advertiser and Union, September 14, 1865, Page 3

1865 "Water Rates," Auburn Daily Advertiser and Union, October 17, 1865, Page 3

1865 "Peat," Auburn Daily Advertiser and Union, October 19, 1865, Page 3

1865 "The Water Works," Auburn Daily Advertiser and Union, October 27, 1865, Page 3

1865 "The water supplied," Auburn Daily Advertiser and Union, November 7, 1865, Page 3

1865 "The Water Works," Auburn Daily Advertiser and Union, November 17, 1865, Page 3

1865 "The Water Works Company," Auburn Daily Advertiser and Union, December 14, 1865, Page 3

1866 The Evansville Journal, May 1, 1866, Page 4.
Water-Works.  As the subject of Water-Works is now occupying the attention of our citizens, the following article on the subject of Water-Works in general, from the Indianapolis Journal of the 26th, will no doubt be read with interest:
The gas question having been disposed of in such a manner as to secure to us a full supply of gas at a moderate price, our next greatest want ought to be earnestly considered—a copious and cheap supply of water for a beverage and for household use. This is not only important for our comfort but is also most useful as a sanitary provision.  In the denser part of the city there can be no doubt that the health of the inhabitants is injuriously affected by the impurity of the water obtained from wells; and the evil will constantly increase.  It is fortunately that while we have delayed consideration of this vital municipal matter, mechanical invention has been busy, and the methods immeasurably cheaper than the old ones have been found for furnishing water.  The old reservoir system seems likely to be superceded by an improved mode of obtaining water, fresh and in copious supply from streams, and throwing it directly to the desired points.  Auburn, New York, has water-works operated in this manner, and, we understand, with entire success.  The water is thrown from a river by force pumps, which are kept in motion by power supplied by a canal to the wheels that work the pumps.  There is no artificial reservoir.  The pipes are of water cement, hooped with iron.  The pressure upon these pipes, for ordinary purposes, is about thirty pounds to the square inch, but they are constructed to withstand a pressure of one hundred and eighty pounds to the square inch.  At Auburn, water has been thrown to the top of a church in the midst of the city, one hundred and sixty feet above the point of supply.  The supply of water is abundant—the apparatus connected with the pumps denoting accurately the extent of use, so that the proper amount to meet the requirements for consumption can always be required at once.  The machinery for supplying water is simple, cheap, no affected by the weather, and little liable to get out of repair.
Would it not be most proper for the Council to appoint a committee to look into this matter; to visit places where water is supplied by this new system, and to ascertain for the benefit of citizens the success thereof, and the cost of which, by adopting it, we might be furnished with a copious and steady supply of pure, fresh water?  We trust that this will be done.  We can not fairly claim to be a city until, in every room of our houses, water can be introduced cheaply and abundantly, and without labor.
We append below, a copy of a letter written in answer to one of the citizens of this place, by the Mayor and City Engineer of Auburn, concerning the water-works in that city:
"In answer to your inquiries as to the present condition and practical operation of the Auburn Water-Works, we would say that the works have been constructed upon the plan of forcing water under any required pressure, directly through the mains, by means of water engines or pumps.
"The mains are already extended between four and five miles, through the principal streets of the city, and thus far the works have proved successful, even beyond the expectations of the most sanguine.  The water can be thrown directly from the fire hydrants, through any reasonable length of hose, in large and continuous streams, over the highest buildings in any part of the city, where the mains extend.
"By means of an ingenious and apparently simple regulator, the pressure is constantly kept uniform, and only varied by the will of the engineer.
"The system of works and plan of construction, so far as we are able to judge, are perfectly adapted to the wants of our own city, not only for the ordinary uses, but especially as a safeguard against fire.
"Geo. Humphreys, Mayor of Auburn.
"D. M. Osborne, Chief Engineer."

1867 An to amend the revised Charter of the city of Auburn.  March 25, 1867.  Authorized the city to pay a sum not exceeding $75 per hydrant.

1868 Schenectady Daily Evening Star, October 7, 1868, Page 2.
Steam Fire Engine Trial.  Auburn, Oct. 6.—-The firemen of Utica visited this city to-day. At a trial between the Utica steam fire engine and the Auburn water works, Hollis' patent, the steamer was out-distanced by fifteen feet. Three streams from the hydrant were on and the volume of water from them was one-third greater than the steamer's. The water works were two miles distant from the hydrant with no intermediate powers. Carlos Holly and William C. Wier, the contracting engineers, were present, with the Common Council, giving their attention to the working of the water works.

1868 New York Times, October 7, 1868, Page 1.
Visit of Utica Firemen to Auburn, N.Y.  Auburn, N.Y., Tuesday, Oct. 6. The firemen of Utica visited this city to-day. At a trial between the Utica steam fire engine and the Auburn water works (Holly's patent,) the steamer was out-distanced by fifteen feet. Three streams from the hydrant were on and the volume of water from them was one-third greater than the steamer's. The water works were two miles distant from the hydrant with no intermediate powers. Carlos Holly and William C. Weir, the contracting engineers, were present, with the Common Council, giving their attention to the working of the water works.

1868 Gazetteer and Business Directory of Cayuga County, N.Y. 1867-8.
Pages 41-43:  The Auburn Water Works Company was organized by a special charter from the Legislature, April 19th, 1859, for the purpose of supplying the city with water from the Owasco Lake. The work of construction was delayed until March, 1863, on account of procuring a suitable location, with sufficient elevation for reservoirs. At this time the Company was fully organized by the subscriptions to its Capital Stock of $100,000, and the election, as Directors, of Sylvester Willard, M. D., Josiah Barber, Elmore P. Ross, Cyrus C. Dennis, Harmon Woodruff, Edward H. Avery, Geo. W. Peck, Theodore M. Pomeroy and Albert H. Goss. Charles H. Peet, foreman of Works.
The attention of the Directors was called to a system of water works erected in Lockport, N. Y., by B. Holly, Esq., dispensing with reservoirs and using force pumps to force the water directly into the mains. The works were duly constructed for the Company by Mr. Holly, and accepted, and have successfully met every requirement, both for the supply of water for daily use throughout the city and also as a perfect safeguard from conflagrations. The supply of water is drawn from the outlet of the Owasco Lake, about two miles from the city. At this point a wheel house, 30 by 35 feet, has been erected, two stories high. The upper story is arranged for the family residence of the Superintendent in charge of the machinery. In the lower story is placed three of Mr. Holly’s celebrated Turbine Water Wheels—-one of 60 and two of 100 horse power—under a head of fifteen feet. Each of the large wheels drives one of Holly’s Rotary Elliptical Power Pumps, capable of discharging 1,000,000 gallons of water every 24 hours. The smaller pump has a capacity of about 425,000 gallons every 24 hours. The design of three sets of wheels and pumps is to vary the supply of water according to the wants of the city—-running one, two or three of them, as needed. The wheels are so arranged as to apply the power of either wheel to either pump, or the power of one wheel to two pumps, or the power of two wheels to one pump. The water is forced through 12-inch pipe into the main street of the city, and then through reduced sizes of 8, 6, 4 and 3 inches, is distributed through different localities. The farthest hydrant is fully three miles from the wheel house. The flow of water for the daily supply of the city is secured with perfect regularity and precision. In case of fire, by combinations of safety valves and a system of telegraphing by water, ingeniously contrived by Mr. Holly, any additional amount can be almost instantly thrown to any required point in the city. By simply opening any of the hydrants, the pressure is reduced in the regulating cylinder at the Wheel House — this reduction depresses the piston—starts the regulator which hoists one or more of the gates—rings a bell in the Superintendent’s sleeping apartment, and promptly calls him to his duty. Upon repeated tests the opening of a hydrant in the city has rung the alarm bell in the Superintendent’s room at the wheel house, from two to three miles distant, within three seconds, as near as it  was possible to determine by watches set and compared. As soon as fire is extinguished, the closing of one or more hydrants will so act upon the same regulator, safety valves, piston and cylinder, as to close the gates again, and bring the flow of water in the pipes to the same pressure required for the ordinary supply of the city.— This water telegraph of Mr. Ho1ly’s will operate not only three miles, up hill and down, as at Auburn, but for longer distances, well nigh as instantaneous as the Atlantic Cable registers a message from one extremity to the other.
In the years 1865, 1866, about eight miles of mains were laid throughout the city, for fire protection and private use, and the Company continue to extend their pipes, under the direction of the Common Council. These works have attracted a good deal of attention and commendation from different parts of the country, and are pronounced the best water works in the United States. The water for private use is the purest kind, taken from the beautiful Owasco Lake, and is conducted through the New Jersey Company’s Patent Cement Pipe and is coming into general use by the citizens of Auburn, and is a great luxury and adds an additional attraction to the beautiful city of Auburn.

1868 "The Holly Water Works," Lockport Daily Journal, June 11, 1869, Page 3.
The Auburn Advertiser of June 9th, says:  The Committees from Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus, mentioned yesterday as expected here to-day, were so well pleased with the Binghamton water works that they did not consider it necessary to come here, and accordingly returned home.  Hon. T. T. Flagler, President, Charles Keep, Secretary, Wm. C. Weir, Contracting Agent, and Birdsell Holly, all of the Holly Manufacturing Co., Lockport, and accompanied by C. A. Russell, Esq., Chairman of the Board of Water Commissioners, Saratoga, are in town to-day, having visited the pump house and witnessed the operations of the city water works, with much gratification at the perfection of the system. The fame of these works is rapidly spreading and their value soon gains for them an introduction wherever a water supply is desired.  President St. John, of the National Board of Underwriters, is expected to join our visitors here this afternoon or evening.

1869 The History of Auburn, by Henry Hall
Pages 304-308:  The formation, by wealthy citizens, of a stock company to secure the advantages of a steady and ample supply of pure water to the city of Auburn, by laying subterranean pipes from some spring or reservoir to and through every street and ward, was attempted in 1851, by the enterprising Hon. Thomas Y. Howe, Jr., who had succeeded in obtaining from the Legislature on the 19th of April, a charter investing himself, and General John H. Chedell, Daniel Hewson, Samuel Blatchford, Hon. Aurelian Conkling, Cyrus C. Dennis, John Patty, Wm. B. Wood, John E. Patten, George Clapp, Hon. John Porter, Isaac S. Allen, Edwin E. Marvine, John Curtis, and Benjamin Ashby, with needful authority in the premises.
This was an old but untried scheme. It had attracted attention in Auburn twenty years before, arising primarily out of the necessities of the State prison. That institution had been, up to 1822, furnished with water, by means of a forcing-pump, from the adjoining pond in the outlet. But the pond became stagnant every warm season, and in winter it froze. Pure water was urgently needed. Search was made for a spring near by. One being found on the lands of Dr. Joseph Cole, on North Street, an expensive aqueduct of tamarack logs, bound with iron, was laid therefrom to the prison. This spring was, for many years, the principal resource of the prison for wholesome water. In 1829, the surveys that were being made upon the outlet for those having in view the canal project, had reference also to the matter of laying pipes from the proposed canal, if it should be built on the level of the lake, down to the prison, and where ever needed in the town, to meet the imperative demand for good water. But it was estimated that water from the level referred to would no more than run into the second story of the Western Exchange, and, as the custom of the prison alone would not support a company, the enterprise had failed.
Mr. Howe’s company encountered the opposition of every interest affected by the state of the Owasco Outlet. It was not till the improvement upon that stream had been fully completed that a second attempt could be made.
On the 19th of April, 1859, the Legislature gave the Auburn Water-Works Company a new and ample charter, designating the following gentlemen as the first Board of Directors: William Beach, Theo. Dimon, Benj. F. Hall, George W. Peck, Franklin L. Sheldon, Albert H. Gross, William H. Carpenter, John S. Clark, and Paul D. Cornell. The company was not to be dissolved by reason of any failure to hold an annual election on the day appointed; an election on any subsequent day was to be valid, if held in proper form. The directors were unable to organize for active operations until the spring of 1863. A quorum then met in the office of Mr. Goss, and, as empowered by the charter, filled the places of absent and deceased members of the board, and paved the way for work. It was resolved, on the 15th of December, to open books for subscriptions to the capital stock of the company.  The whole, amounting to $100,000, was taken in twelve hours. An election resulted in the choice of directors, as follows: Edward H. Avery, president; Albert H. Goss, secretary and treasurer; Elmore P. Ross, S. Willard, M.D., Theo. M. Pomeroy, Cyrus C. Dennis, Josiah Barber, Harmon Woodruff, and George W. Peck.
The great obstacle that the project had thus far encountered was the difficulty of obtaining a sufficient elevation for a reservoir. Fort Hill, the east hill, the old camp-ground on Moravia Street, and the first hill in Fleming, on the South Street road, had severally been inspected for a location, and found to possess none suitable for the purpose. A set of works at Lockport, erected by B. Holley & Co., that employed pumps instead of reservoirs, gained the attention of the company at this point. A committee was sent to examine them.  They were working admirably, and the directors were strongly recommended to adopt the new system, for it was well adapted to overcome the only obstacle to the entire consummation of their purposes. This was accordingly done. The construction of the pump and superintendent’s house, the dam, and raceway of the company was commenced in April, 1864. In August, Messrs. Holley & Co. began putting in the machinery and works. A call for the payment in part of subscriptions of stock was made September 7th.
The laying of the mains was commenced in September, 1865, under contract, by the New Jersey Company, which employed pipes of boiler iron, coated within and without with its own patent cement, an experiment with log pipes having demonstrated their unfitness for the purpose. The work was vigorously prosecuted till the month of December, when the water was turned on at the pump-house, and distributed through the principal streets of the city, through 22,930 feet of mains. Both pipes and works were tested, and proved sound. In 1866, 18,048 feet of mains were laid, in addition to the above; in 1867, 26,804 feet more; and in 1868, sufficient to make the total length of main pipe laid about fourteen miles.
The Water-Works Company is now in the full tide of successful operation. Its pipes underlie every ward and district of our city, afford an unfailing and copious supply of spring-water at thousands of faucets, for domestic purposes, keep, during the summer, scores of fountains in perpetual play, and, at one hundred and thirty-five street hydrants, furnishes the prompt and certain means of extinguishing the most dangerous fires. The attractions of residence, and the security of property, in Auburn, have been so happily increased in this manner, that the Water-Works Company it entitled to, and has indeed won the golden opinions of all our citizens.

1870 An act to amend an act entitled "An act to incorporate the Auburn Water Works Company," passed April nineteenth, eighteen hundred and fifty-nine.  April 11, 1870.

1870 Oswego Daily Press, May 16, 1870, Page 3.
The Auburn Water Works Company will put in this month a Holly patent gang pump, able to throw 3,000,000 gallons of water daily.

1871 "Common Council," Auburn Daily Bulletin, February 7, 1871, Page 1.
They also provide that after the present year not more than fifty dollars per hydrant shall be raised to pay for water for fire purposes, instead of the seventy five dollars as at present.

1871 "The Purchase of the Water Works," Auburn Bulletin, February 14, 1871, Page 1.

1871 "An act to supply the City of Auburn with Pure and Wholesome Water," Auburn Bulletin, February 14, 1871, Page 2.  The proposed bill did not pass.

1871 Auburn Daily Bulletin, December 21, 1871, Page 1.
A Hint for the Water Works Co. - Rochester is agitating the question of introducing the Holly system of Water Works.

1874 "The Water Works Question," Auburn Morning News, December 24, 1874, Page 4.  Pipe bursts during a test.

1878 "About the Holly Water Works," The Indianapolis News, July 20, 1878, Page 2.
J. Lewis Grant, superintendent of the Holly water works, at Auburn, New York, communicates the following to the Advertiser.

1879 "The Water Works. Improvements at the Pump House," Auburn Weekly News and Democrat, September 4, 1879, Page 1.

1879 History of Cayuga County, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers, by Elliot G. Storke.
Pages 214-215:  The Auburn Water-Works Company was incorporated April 19th 1859.  Wm. Beach, Benj. F. Hall, Theodore Dimon, Geo. W. Peck, Franklin L. Sheldon, Albert H. Goss, Wm. H. Goss, Jno. S. Clark and Paul D. Cornell were the corporators and first directors. The capital stock was $100,000, with the privilege by charter of increasing it to $300,000. It was subsequently increased to $150,000. Their organization was not perfected until December, 1863, when Edward H. Avery was elected President, and Albert H. Goss, Secretary and Treasurer.  A new set of directors was elected, consisting, in addition to Messrs. Avery and Goss, of Elmore P. Ross, S. Willard, M. D., Theodore M. Pomeroy, Cyrus C. Dennis, Josiah Barber, Harmon Woodruff and Geo. W. Peck. Construction was delayed till 1864, by reason of the difficulty experienced in obtaining a suitable location with sufficient elevation for reservoirs. At this time attention was directed to the Holly system of water-works, which resulted in the abandonment of the idea of using reservoirs. With this obstacle overcome, active operations were begun in April, 1864, and prosecuted with such vigor that by December of that year water was distributed through 22,930 feet of mains, traversing the city through its principal streets.
The source of supply is the Owasco Lake, twelve miles long and nearly one mile wide, and the Outlet one mile down to the pump works and dam, which are on a level with the lake, and about a mile distant from the center of the city.  The area of water-shed is reported by the State Engineer to be about 100,000 acres, including the lake, which has an area of 7,400 acres. The southern boundary or limit of the water-shed is about twenty miles to the south of the head of the lake, near Fall Creek, which discharges into Cayuga Lake, near Ithaca. Several minor tributaries find their way through lateral valleys into the Inlet and the lake, while springs flowing from the hillsides and hidden in the bosom of the lake are a valuable and fruitful source of supply.
Skaneateles Lake, on the east and Cayuga Lake on the west, are at an average of eight to ten miles from the Owasco, the former 150 feet above, and the latter 250 feet below its level. A ridge of high land and hills running nearly north and south, at an elevation of some four or five hundred feet, bound the Owasco valley almost the whole length of the lake, broken on the easterly side in only two or three instances, to allow the passage of small tributary streams. The highest elevation of land varies in distance between these lakes from one to four miles. The hills are underlaid with rock of a slaty nature, that decomposes into a loose shale upon exposure to the elements. Owasco Lake is above the level of the lime rock formation, which underlies the greater portion of this part of the County, and which shows itself upon the surface in many places in the vicinity of Auburn. There is very little low or marsh land through which the water passes in reaching the lake, and were it not for the small area of low land or swamp at the head of the lake, say not more than one hundred acres, none would be touched by the Owasco water. The hill-slopes and lands generally are, or were, wooded with maple, beech, chestnut, basswood, and hemlock, while the low land at the head of the lake is thickly wooded with ash and soft maple.
The record of the rain fall on the water-shed was accurately kept in Auburn, from 1836 to 1849, both inclusive. The maximum, in 1843, was 50.06 inches, and the minimum, in 1838, 21.74 inches. The average for the time was 35.6 inches. The average outflow of the lake during these fourteen years was 8,541 cubic feet per minute, or 12,300,000 feet per day. It is claimed that the clearing up of the country and drainage of low lands has materially reduced the aggregate annual outflow of the lake.
The analysis of the water flowing from the Owasco, shows it to be of excellent quality, and of purity almost unequalled. It is as follows:
Chloride of Potassium ........0.39 grains.
Sulphate of Potassa.............0.32
Sulphate of Soda.................0.37
Sulphate of Lime.................0.01 
Carbonate of Lime...............5.43
Carbonate of Magnesia........1.57
Oxide of Iron and Alumina..trace.
Organic Matter......................1.28
Total per gallon.....................9.53
The original cost of the works and additions was about $225,000. The cost of their maintenance, beyond the compensation of its general officers and office expenses, the payment of a mechanical engineer, superintendent of pipes and hydrants, is a moderate sum, as the power in actual use is obtained from water-wheels, and the pipes and machinery are comparatively new.  There are about twenty-six miles of mains laid, and 225 hydrants distributed throughout the city.  There are nearly two miles of twelve-inch heavy iron mains, and about half a mile of cement pipe of the same caliber, forming two parallel lines, one on the east and the other on the west side of the river, leading from the pump works directly into the heart of the city, from which branch out laterally, mains often eight, six and four inches. The average daily distribution of water, exclusive of that used for extinguishing fires, is about 2,000,000 gallons. The supply is ample for the present wants of the city, and is furnished by pumps driven by three turbine wheels. One wheel drives a gang of six vertical pumps, which
are almost sufficient to supply the ordinary wants. The two other wheels drive a capacious rotary pump each. There is in reserve, in addition to the power above mentioned, one of Holly's two hundred horse-power steam engines, which drives one of his No. 14 rotary pumps.
In connection with the above is a fire alarm telegraph line, having nineteen stations, from all of which an alarm can be instantly conveyed to the engineer at the works. The ordinary average daily pressure maintained in the mains is forty pounds to the inch ; but with the reserve power, no difficulty would be experienced in obtaining a pressure of thrice that amount.
Distribution is made generally through cement pipes, having a sheet iron center lined and covered with a strong and hard cement. Cast iron is adopted for future use, and is being substituted where an increase of size is required. The cement pipes for ordinary pressure have given good satisfaction, but under fire pressure, in a few instances where corrosion of the iron through imperfection of the cement coating has existed, they have failed.
The Ludlow & Eddy gates and stop-cock, and Matthews' patent hydrants and mains are used. The water is not filtered, but forced through ample gates and screens.
The present officers and directors are : Alonzo G. Beardsley, President; Josiah Harber, Vice-President; Nelson H. Eldred, Secretary, Superintendent and Treasurer; A. G. Heardsley, Josiah Barber, E. H. Avery. Wm. H. Seward, T. M. Pomeroy, Nelson Beardsley, Wm. Allen, and S. L. Bradley, Directors. The engineer at the pump-house is Orrin Carrington ; the foreman of mains and hydrants, William Jago.

1881 The Evening Auburnian, May 7, 1881, Page 1.
Auburn Water Works Company.-- by contract entered into January 1st, 1881, with the Auburn Water Works company for five years, the city agree to pay each year $17,500, $10,000 August 1st, and $7,000 December 1st, for supply of water for city hall, hose houses, drinking fountains and hydrants.  The contract being made on the basis of 240 hydrants, 7 drinking fountains, and 8 hose houses.
For each additional hydrant ordered on extended mains $68.50 to be paid.

1881 Auburn, from Engineering News, 8:413 (October 15, 1881).

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

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

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

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

1892 An act to supply the city of Auburn with water.  May 4, 1892.

1894 An act supplementary to and amendatory of chapter four hundred and seventy-nine of the laws of eighteen hundred and ninety-two, entitled "An act to supply the city of Auburn with water."  February 22, 1894.

1895 An act to amend chapter fifty-three of the laws of eighteen hundred and seventy-nine, entitled "An act to revise the charter of the city of Auburn," and the several acts amendatory thereof.  May 18, 1895.
§ 86. a sum not exceeding sixty dollars per hydrant for supply of water for the fire department.

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

1905 Report of the Water Board of the City of Auburn for the year ending December 31, 1905, bound with reports through 1916.

1913 Historical Records of a Hundred and Twenty Years, Auburn, N. Y., by Joel Henry Monroe
The Auburn Water Works Company was chartered in April, 1859, with a capital of $100,000. A board of directors was then chosen composed of the following citizens: William Beach, Theodore Dimon, Benjamin F. Hall, George W. Peck, Franklin L. Sheldon, Albert H. Goss, William H. Carpenter, John D. Clark, and Paul D. Cornell. Yet on account of the lack of money the enterprise remained dormant until the spring of 1863.  By this time sufficient money had been raised to proceed with the work of construction. A new set of officers was chosen as follows: Edward H. Avery, president; Albert H. Goss, secretary and treasurer. The work of laying the water mains began early in 1865 and before the end of the year water was supplied to residents and business places on the principal streets of the city. In 1894 the city purchased and took over the water company.

1927 "Electrification of the Upper Pumping Station, Auburn, N.Y.," by A. J. Adams, Journal of the American Water Works Association, 18(6):683-688 (December, 1927)

The minute book of the Auburn Water Works Company (March 1863 - August 1894) is included in the Seward Papers held by the Rare Books and Special Collections Department of Rush Rhees Library at the University of Rochester.  Cited above as AWWC.

© 2017 Morris A. Pierce