Documentary History of American Water-works

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Middle Atlantic States New York Hudson

Hudson, New York

Hudson was chartered as a city in 1785.

In 1785 a group of local residents banded together to build a water works systems.  The first meeting was held on March 9, 1785 and the first managers were Thomas Jenkins, Daniel Lawrence, Daniel Gano, Samuel Mansfield, Stephen Paddock, and Ezra Reed with William Mayhew as clerk.  Work was begun by July and was 1785 and completed on January 14, 1786 by the proprietors of the Hudson aqueduct.   (1878, 175)

More than a year later, in March, 1790, the legislature passed an act "for the better regulating and protecting the aqueducts in the city of Hudson."

The Hudson Aqueduct Company was incorporated on March 16, 1816 by Robert Jenkins, William Johnson, Judah Paddock, Ebenezer Comstock, and Gayer Gardner.

A law passed in 1841 allowed the City of Hudson to borrow money to pay for installation of iron pipes, and also the right to buy the system, which they did not exercise.  Iron pipes were installed in 1841.

After the Chicago fire of 1870, the city decided to build its own water works, and laws authorizing the city to do so were passed in 1872 and 1873.  Local voters chose by a small margin to use water from the Hudson River and construction began in March 1874, with service beginning on January 1, 1875.  (1878, 176).  This system included a slow sand filter designed by James P. Kirkwood, who had designed an earlier filter system in Poughkeepsie.  The Hudson filter was the second installed in an American water-works.

An outbreak of typhoid in 1900 resulted in an effort to abandon the Hudson River as a water source and to build a 12-mile long pipeline to Taghkanic Creek at New Forge.  A 1902 law authorizing the construction was vetoed by the mayor, but a 1904 law was accepted and the new water source came into operation in 1906. 

The aqueduct company went out of business in 1909 and the City of Hudson currently supplies water to the community.  

1786 New-York Journal, April 6, 1786, Page 2
The inhabitants are plentifully and conveniently supplied with water brought to their cellars in wooden pipes from a spring at two miles distance.

1789 Albany Gazette, January 23, 1789 Petition of Seth Perkins and other proprietors
To the honorable the Legislature of the state of New-York
The petition of diverse citizens of the city of Hudson, proprietors of the AQUEDUCTS, in the said city, Respectfully sheweth,
That your petitioners associated themselves together for the purpose of obtaining water, for the necessary use of said city; and, in pursuance of the object of such association, at the very considerable expence, conducted the same, by means of aqueducts, from a fountain, at a distance of two miles, through the city aforesaid----AND whereas, your petitioners forcibly feel the inconveniences arising from a want of some regular system, established by legislative authority, to compel the several proprietors of the said aqueducts to bear their proportional part of the expence for the necessary reparations, alterations, and additions to the same----AND whereas, no sufficient power is lodge in your petitioners to prevent the unnecessary waste of water, without which, the beneficial effects, resulting from their exertions, in this respect will be rendered nugatory:
YOUR petitioners therefore, fully sensible of the injurious effects from the causes above mentioned, most humbly pray the honorable the legislature, to take their situation into serious consideration, and be pleased to grant to them such powers, as the wisdom of the legislature may deem proper, for the better regulating and protecting the aqueducts aforesaid, and that your petitioners may have liberty to bring in a bill for that purpose.
AND your petitioners, as in duty bound, shall ever pray.

1790 An Act for the better regulating and protecting the aqueducts in the city of Hudson, March 9, 1790

1792 The American geography, by Jedidiah Morse
Page 260:  Hudson.  The inhabitants are plentifully and conveniently supplied with water, brought to their cellars in wooden pipes, from a spring two miles from the town.

1793 Philadelphia Dunlop's American Daily Advertiser, July 20, 1793
Albany, July 8.  We learn that enterprizing citizens of Hudson raised 1000 last week, for the purpose of making additional water works, and bringing the water of a larger flowing spring, nearly three miles, through pipes, into that city--the spring along cost them 100l.  Few places have worse water, and perhaps none are capable of having better water, by the same means, than this city, and at a very small expense--especially should this mode come into general life, as it doubtless would, if once the great utility of it was made obvious.

1803 "Curiosity," The Balance (Hudson, New York), June 21, 1803, Page 198.
The roots of a willow tree, had found their way thrugh the joints of a private pipe, and from thence had proceeded to the main pipe, where they had ground and increased to such an immense number of fine fibers, that the bore of the main log, for about 20 feet, was entirely filled up.

1816 An act to incorporate the Hudson Aqueduct Company, March 22, 1816.

1827 "Notices of applications to the next legislature," The Evening Post, November 26, 1835, Page 2.
For an increase in the capital stock of the President and Directors of the Hudson Aqueduct Company, of ten thousand dollars, to be expended in substituting iron pipes in place of the wooden logs now in use.

1841 An act to authorize the common council of the city of Hudson to borrow money for defraying the expense of laying down iron pipes by the Hudson Aqueduct Company, and for purchasing the property and stock of said company,  May 25, 1841.

1857 An act requiring the Hudson Aqueduct Company to make annual reports to the common council of the city of Hudson, March 23, 1857.

1872 An act to provide for supplying the city of Hudson, Columbia county, New York, with pure and wholesome water.  April 6, 1872.

1873 An Act to provide for supplying the city of Hudson with pure and wholesome water, May 7, 1873

1878 Hudson Aqueduct from History of Columbia County by Captain Franklin Ellis
Page 175:  The iron pipes were laid in 1841.

1881 Hudson, Engineering News, 8:394 (July 23, 1881)

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

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

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

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

1894 "Continuous Sand Filtration at Hudson, N. Y.," Engineering News, 31:487-488 (June 14, 1894)

1895 "Sand Washer for the Filter Beds of the Water-Works of Hudson, N. Y.," by George A. Soper,  Engineering News, 34:170 (September 12, 1895).  Includes a diagram.

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

1904 An act to provide the city of Hudson with pure and wholesome water.  April 4, 1904.

1909 History of the City of Hudson, New York: With Biographical Sketches of Henry Hudson and Robert Fulton, by Anna Rossman Bradbury
Pages 54-55:  Aqueduct Company.
Pages 183-187: Water Supply.  [Note the law mentioned on page 185 was passed in 1904, not 1903.]

Records of the Hudson Aqueduct Company are in the collections of the New York State Library.

2015 Morris A. Pierce