Documentary History of American Water-works

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

Lockport, New York

Lockport was founded in 1824 and incorporated as a village in 1829 and as a city in 1864.

The Village of Lockport recognized the need to develop manufacturing in the village, and several residents invited Seneca Falls inventor Birdsill Holly to come to Lockport.  Together they incorporated the Holly Manufacturing Company in 1859 with $20,000 of capital, largely driven by ex-Governor Washington Hunt and local entrepreneur Thomas T. Flagler, who had served two terms in Congress and several terms as a state assemblyman.  The new company under superintendent Holly initially made sewing machines, a variety of pumps, and other metal goods, as shown in their 1867 and 1868 catalogs cited below. 

A serious fire in March, 1863 led to a call for improvements to the local fire department and purchasing a steam fire engine.  Holly took the opportunity to propose installation of a water-driven rotary pump of his design that could supply water under pressure to fire hydrants distributed throughout the business district.  The system would be owned by the Village and the cost would be paid by building owners in the business district.  When some building owners expressed doubts that their insurance savings would outweigh the tax increase to pay for the system, a "prominent citizen, who had faith in the system, secured a large portion of signatures to the petition, asking the Common Council to authorize their construction, by the promise that he would obligate himself to pay the tax of each one, for the amount of saving in insurance for the term of three years."  It is believed that the "prominent citizen" was Holly Company President Flagler, although no known contemporary document confirms this.  The system was approved by the business owners and Village council, and was successfully tested in August, 1863.   A round water-works building was constructed adjacent to an existing race on the south side of the five locks on the Erie Canal at Lockport, in which a Holly water turbine and rotary pump were installed.  The building appears in an 1864 map showing the design of a proposed third tier of locks that would allow gunboats to pass through the canal to Lake Erie.  The round water works buildings in the middle of the proposed third tier of locks on the map below:



"Map Showing Location Of One Tier Of New Locks At Lockport," in Annual Report of the State Engineer And Surveyor, on the Canals Of New York, For the Year 1863. Transmitted to the Legislature, February 4, 1864 Holly Number 7 Rotary Fire and Water Works Pump, as used in Lockport. 
Water Supply and Fire Protection for Cities and Villages, Holly Manufacturing Company, March, 1867.

The first water works performed as advertised but had several limitations – it was only operated during a fire; the pipes were normally empty so the pump had fill the pipes before water was available at hydrants; and the pump depended on water power from the canal race, which was not reliably available in the winter nor suitable for domestic use.  In 1872, the city contracted with the Holly Manufacturing Company to build and own a new pumping works on the north side of the canal, which had both steam- and water-driven pumps.  The Holly Company was also given a contract to operate both the plant and the city's water distribution system, which was renewed in 1882.  The pumping apparatus was built in a new building next to the canal tow path, shown in the following engraving:


Scientific American 58(1):1 (January 7, 1888)

The 1863 and 1872 water works buildings are both shown in this 1890-era picture of the canal locks as well as this picture.

By 1876 Holly was apparently under pressure from the company due to numerous infringements on his water works patents and he largely left the firm to form the Holly Steam Combination Company, which became the American District Steam Company in 1881.  Holly was ultimately successful in defending his patents and he was listed as a consulting engineer for the Holly Manufacturing Company until his death, although he apparently did little work for them.  Harvey F. Gaskill became superintendent of the Holly Manufacturing Company after Holly resigned, and remained in that position until his death in 1889.

Thomas Edison's interest in Holly water works was noted in an 1880 article by Francis R. Upton (cited below) which states that "the inventor conceived of a system which should resemble the Holly water works," but no evidence has been found that Edison ever visited Lockport or met Holly. 

The Lockport Water Supply Company was incorporated in 1886 by John Hodge, William McRae, James Jackson, Jr., Birdsill Holly, William T. Ransom, Jesse Peterson, Charles Whitmore, Harvey F. Gaskill, William S. Camp, Eugene M. Ashley and Washington H. Ransom.  This company issued a detailed prospectus outlining their plans to build a canal from Lake Erie to Eighteen Mile Creek that would supply water and power to Lockport and other communities.  The company was renamed in 1890 to the Lockport Water and Electric Company, but nothing ever came of it.

The Holly Company gave notice in March, 1886 that is was cancelling the contract as the machinery was no longer able to provide reliable service for fire protection.  The city advertised for proposals to build a new pumping plant, and the Holly Company provided six alternatives in response.  The city awarded Holly a contract that involved refurbishing the existing pumping plant,  turning it over to the city, and adding new steam- and water-powered pumps.  The new pumping plant began service in 1888.

Water from the canal was not very clean and the city delivered very little, if any, water for domestic purposes.  The city opted in 1907 to build a new pumping station on the Niagara River that would pump cleaner water through a thirteen-mile pipeline to supply the city.  Filtration and chlorination was added later.

Water is provided by the City of Lockport.


References and Timeline
1859 "Origin and History of the first and only organized efforts to build upon a permanent basis a Manufacturing Interest in Lockport," Lockport Daily Journal & Courier, May 18, 1859, Page 2.
Origin and History of the first and only organized efforts to build upon a permanent basis a Manufacturing Interest in Lockport.  Early in the month of June, 1858, a meeting was called at the American Hotel, signed by about twenty citizens, to consider the question of making the the valuable water power of Lockport subservient to the advance of prosperity of the place.
The Manufacturing Company.  About three weeks since, an association was formed called the "Holly Manufacturing Company," with an investment of $20,000, comprising the following Stockholders:
Trustees - T. T. Flagler, Charles Keep, S. H. Marks, L. F. Bowen, G. W. Bowen.
Officers - T. T. Flagler, President; Chas. Keep, Secretary and Treasurer.
Stockholders - Gov. Hunt, Hon. T. T. Flagler, Charles Keep, S. H. Marks, Birdsill Holly, L. F. Bowen, G. W. Bowen.

1863 "Terrible Fire!" Daily Journal and Courier, March 20, 1863, Page 3.
This morning about 3 o'clock, one of the most destructive fires visited Lockport, recorded in its history.

1863 "Admonition," Daily Journal and Courier, March 20, 1863, Page 2.
Our citizens, we trust, are admonished by the conflagration of last time, of the necessity of adopting some more effective measures for extinguishing fires.  We need, in the first place, more ample provisions for supplying water.  Second -- a Hook and Ladder Company, and lastly, and perhaps most important of all, we need a Steam Fire Engine.  Why do our people hesitate in regard to the expense, which the cost of these provisions would be more than saved at a single fire, and when the business part of our village is in imminent danger of being laid to ashes.

1863 "Meeting of Property Holders on Main Street and Vicinity," Daily Journal and Courier, March 24, 1863, Page 2.
The property holders in Main and Walnut St., between Transit and Elm, and those also owning property on Elm, Locust, Pine and Corrage, near Main street, are requested to meet at the American Hotel, this Tuesday Evening, at 7 1-2.
To determine on the question of adopting a system which will then and there be fully explained for supply this part of the village with abundance of water and the means of extinguishing fires.
The plan of supply water is drawn and presented by Mr. B. Holly, which will give ample guarantee, if desired, that it will answer the exact purpose for which it is recommended and designed.
The plan in general terms is simply to place a water wheel of immense power at or near Cope & Harmon's mill.  All the power of this week is to be applied to a forcing pup, from which the water is to be conducted to Main street, and through its entire length, from Elm to Transit street, in an 8 inch pipe.  From Main street, it is to be conducted several rods on other streets, running from Main in 4 inch pipes.  At convenient distances the entire length of the pipes hydrants are to be located, from which water conducted through hose without any additional power except that furnished by the water wheel, can be thrown above the roofs of the highest buildings.  From 18 to 20 barrels of water can be thrown in a minute, although this quantity would require the use of three or four hydrants.  The same water can be used for sprinkling the streets in the summer, and also for supplying buildings with all the water required.
It seems to be assumed that the supplying of Main street and vicinity, in the manner proposed, would be purely a local improvement, to be done by the Board on a petition from a majority of the real estate or property owners immediately interested, and yet it would be seen that there is no part of the corporation that would not be benefited by the supply of water thus furnished; and, if adopted, it would become really a part, and an important part, of the general system of extinguishing fires, as from this source reservoirs will be filled in any section of the village.

1863 "Water Meeting," Daily Journal and Courier, March 25, 1863, Page 3.
Mr. B. Holly presented a plan ... which the meeting unanimously endorsed as entirely practical.

1863 "Hydraulic Works in Lockport," Daily Journal and Courier, April 26, 1863, Page 2.
We are gratified to perceive that the ground is already broken, and the work going bravely on for the construction of the proposed hydraulic works for supplying abundant water and power for extinguishing fires anywhere on Main and Market or the adjoining' streets, and a water-wheel of 125 horse power is to be placed on the north west side of the race, just outside of the circular wall near Moore's Grist Mill.  The water will be supplied from the race at this point, and the pipe will run from the water wheel under the race.  When it reaches or enters the bank at the north side of the race, it will run up perpendicularly to a point near the surface, but supposed to be below the freezing point, when it will run nearly horizontally to Main street.  The expense of the entire work when completed will be about eleven thousand dollars.

1863 "Hydraulic Works," Daily Journal and Courier, May 14, 1863, Page 1.
Yesterday  the  engagement  was completed  with  the  Hydraulic Company, to complete the long talked of water works in the streets of Lockport.
A large wheel, of 120 horse power, is to be put in near the  Locks.  A large forcing pump is to be introduced for the purpose of forcing the water through the town.  A ten inch pipe is to be laid through Pine street to Main, then an eight inch pipe west to the Big Bridge, then an eight inch pipe east along Main to Elm street, and a six inch pipe along Cottage and Locust to High.  There are to be 18 hydrants built.  The branch pipes are to be four inches.-- The present plan is only for fire purposes.  There is little doubt that the water will be used for other purposes in time.  We learn that the pump will be equal to a reservoir 200 feet high. 

1863 "Water Works," Daily Journal and Courier, May 22, 1863, Page 1.
Mr. B. Holly, attached one of his cistern, rotary, forcing pumps to a wheel in Cope's Mill night before last, and through a hose 1,000 feet long, has filled the reservoir in front of the Arcade on Pine Street, and the one in front of the American.  The latter has a capacity of 2,000 hhds.  The rise is about 70 feet.  The pump designed for the Village water works has 40 times the power of this.

1863 Daily Journal and Courier, July 2, 1863, Page 3.
Progressing.—We notice that the pipe for the Hydraulic works is being laid upon Pine street, and has already reached nearly to Main.

1863 Lockport Daily Journal, August 27, 1863, Page 3.
Cold Water Ahead!!
The Holly Water-Works a Complete Success!
The remarkable power of water as an agent was well and thoroughly tested last night between 6 and 7 O’clock. Our village has been very fortunate in this enterprise. Fortunate in having a great abundance of water so near at hand—fortunate in contracting with such a machinist as Mr. Birdsill Holly, and fortunate in employing Wm. G. McMaster as agent in the prosecution of the work. The work has gone on rapidly, and every part of it thus far, has met the most sanguine expectations of its friends. The water thrown last evening perfectly eclipsed anything we ever saw in “lofty tumbling” of the kind. The first stream thrown, which burst the new hose, was one inch and three-fourths in diameter, and went up full 160 feet high. Hose was attached to three hydrants and a grand competition ensued. The machinery and all the pipe and hydrants of this magnificent work, were manufactured at the Holly Manufacturing Works, under the direction of Mr. Birdsill Holly, patentee of the pump and wheel employed.
The wheel is “ Holly’s Patent Turbine” of 120 horse power. The pump is “Holly’s Patent Elliptical Rotary Pump”. Every four revolutions of the pump throws a barrel of water, and 200 revolutions per minute can be obtained. The water is thrown from the pump through a 10-inch pipe up to Main-st, about 500 feet. The pipe through Main-st, from Cottage-st, to Locust-st, is 8-inch, and each way from those points 6-inch. The lateral pipe in Cottage and Pine south of Main, and Locust-st, are 6-inch.
Test
This was from the double hydrant at the corner of Main and Pine-sts. This hydrant is distant over 500 feet, horizontally, and at an elevation of 53 feet from the pump. The hose attached to the hydrant was 100 feet in length, and water was thrown from that at least 150 feet perpendicular. Two streams were thrown from the same hydrant at least 150 feet perpendicular.
Pressure
The pressure, as shown by the indicator and pressure gauge at the wheel-house, was 372 feet-- -(equal to a reservoir 372 feet high). While the water was being thrown through a 3 inch nozzle—at which time the new hose burst—one-third of the issues of the wheel (being just one-third of the power) were closed entirely, and then the water-gate was raised so as to produce just about one-half of the power of the wheel and pump. Six streams could then have been thrown with all the force that could be then used to advantage at a fire. If the pipes were carried to High-st, then Cottage, Pine and Locust-sts, but little difference would be seen in the pressure at Main and High-sts.
This is not intended as a trial of the capacity of the works.
The regulating apparatus connected with the wheel and pump is reserved for description, say after the finish left on the completion of the work, when Mr. Birdsill Holly will furnish all needful. Mr. Holly’s contract with the village only required water to be thrown 100 feet high.
The hose which burst was made by Wm. Taylor of Buffalo, one of the best manufacturers in the country. At the time it burst, the pressure of the water in the hose, was full 150 lbs. to the square inch. It will be difficult to get hose to stand the immense force which the power is capable of producing—but it can always be controlled according to the location of the fire.
The apparatus for indicating and regulating the pressure of the water is most ingenious. The wheel, pump and all the machinery, as well as the entire plan, are the inventions of Mr. Holly, and its complete success must be particularly satisfactory to himself and his friends.
We expect this truly great work will be more and more appreciated, as it is further tried and applied in different directions. Lockport moves.

1863 Lockport Daily Journal, August 28, 1863, Page 3.
A SLIGHT MISTAKE.—In noticing the splendid exhibition of Water Works, night before last, we stated that the Hydrants were made by the Holly Manufacturing Company. We should have stated that they were made by Race, Matthews, & Co., a firm which never turns out an indifferent job. The pumps, hydrants and other articles made by them have a wide popularity. 

1863 Daily Journal and Courier, September 3, 1863, Page 3.
More Evidence of the Value and Economy of Water Power.— We learn that since the feasibility of applying the water in the canal, by a water wheel, for extinguishing fire upon Main and other streets in the village, has been indisputably demonstrated, the rates of insurance have fallen about 40 per cent.— If this be true, and we think it perfectly reliable, property holders will save nearly enough in one year, from the former rates of insurance, to pay the whole amount of tax for the water works.

1864 Daily Journal and Courier, March 23, 1864, Page 3.
The Water Works.- We learn that the Trustees intend building a room over or near the large water wheel, so that a person may sleep there, and be on hand to manage the wheel in case of fire.

1864 "Report of the Committee on the Lockport Water Works," Proceedings of the Rochester Common Council 1864-1866, Page 91, July 16, 1864.

1864 "The Rochester Common Council and the Lockporters," Buffalo Commercial, July 23, 1864, Page 3.

1866 Lockport Daily Journal, May 22, 1866, Page 4.
Ordinance for the Assessment of the Balance due for Construction of the Water-Works, &c.  May 14, 1866
The Board of Trustees of the late Village of Lockport, did, on the 12th day of May, 1863, adopt an ordinance for the construction of certain waterworks in said Village.

1867 Water Supply and Fire Protection for Cities and Villages, Holly Manufacturing Company, March, 1867.   Thanks to Alyssa Bella Landahl for copying this at the Boston Public Library.
Pages 1-3: Lockport Water Works.

1867 "Report of Committee," The Summit County Beacon (Akron, Ohio), December 12, 1867, Page 3.
Report of committee appointed to examine and investigate the system of extinguishing fires as now practiced in the city of Lockport, New York.

1867 Special illustrated and descriptive catalogue of lift and force pumps : also Holly's celebrated patent rotary pumps, and turbine water wheels, cast iron pipe for water and steam and cut-off valves, by Holly Manufacturing Company.

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.

1868 "The Holly Water Works," Buffalo Daily Courier, October 10, 1868, Page 2.
Visit of the City Water, Officers of the Corporation, and other citizens to the Holly Water Works at Lockport -- THe Holly Works vs. a Steam Fire Engine -- A Lively Display -- The Holly Patent a success -- A few ideas on the subject.

1868 Holly Manufacturing Co's descriptive catalogue of hand, lift and force pumps : also, cast and wrought iron bench screws, thimble skeins, coach screws, cheese press screws, blacksmiths' drills, grindstone and barn door hangings, amalgam bells, sinks, sewer and bell traps, coal shovels and tongs, aerated bread machinery, hot air furnaces and registers, Holly's patent rotary power pumps and turbine wheels, centrifugal and pressure pumps, steam engines, air and gas pumps, etc., etc, by Holly Manufacturing Company.

1869 B. Holly's system of fire protection and water supply, for cities and villages. Machinery manufactured and warranted superior to any other, by Holly Manufacturing Company, Lockport, N.Y.
Pages 4-7:  Lockport Water Works.
Page 32:  Conclusive proof of the superiority of these works, is found in the fact that underwriters readily make large concessions in the rates of insurance, within districts covered and protected by them. It is pertinent to state that in  Lockport, with a view of overcoming the incredulity of tax-payers, a prominent citizen, who had faith in the system, secured a large portion of signatures to the petition, asking the Common Council to authorize their construction, by the promise that he would obligate himself to pay the tax of each one, for the amount of saving in insurance for the term of three years. He has not been called upon to make up any deficiency under this stipulation. In fact, in many cases, two years’ saving has more than equaled the tax paid for construction.  [Thomas T. Flagler, President of the Holly Manufacturing Company is believed to have been the prominent citizen who made this guarantee.]

1871 "Extension of the Water Works," Lockport Daily Journal, October 12, 1871, Page  3.
City system to be connected to the pump at the Holly Manufacturing Company.  Contractor P.H. Lineen.

1872 Lockport Daily Journal, January 26, 1872, Page 3.
The Water Works.  Special Meeting of the Common Council. Large Attendance of Citizens.  The Holly Company's Proposition.

1872 Lockport Daily Journal, October 3, 1872, Page 3.
Water.  Our Present Protection against fire.  The old and new system contrasted.
Four months have now elapsed since the city closed its contract with the Holly Water Works Company, whereby said company became responsible for a constant supply of water for fire purposes.

1872 Geneva Courier (Geneva, New York), November 20, 1872, Page 2.
At a trial of the Holly water works at Lockport, a few days since, water was taken from a main at an elevation of 75 feet above the pamps and a stream 3 inches in diameter was thrown to the height of 213 feet 2 inches, and the wind unfavorable, too. This is the most extraordinary feat on record. It demonstrates the enormous power and capacity of the Holly system of water works. 

1873 Newark Union (Newark, New York), July 12, 1873, Page 3.
At Lockport, last Friday, the Holly Water Works Company's pump threw a three-inch stream to the unprecedented height of 301 feet!

1873 Map of City of Lockport South of N.Y.C. & H.R.R.R.

1877 "Lockport," The Buffalo Sunday Morning News, March 18, 1877, Page 3.
The stability of the Holly Manufacturing Company assured of.

1877 "The Holly Water Works," Lockport Daily Journal, March 27, 1877, Page 4.
Work on Full Time to be Resumed Next Monday.

1878 "Validity of the Holly Patent," The New York Times, March 26, 1878, Page 1.
Lockport, N.Y., March 25.- The Holly Manufacturing Company, of this city, have just gained an important suit, involving the exclusive right of the company to construct water-works on the Holly system of direct pumping and without a receiver or stand-pipe.  The suit was commenced about four years ago at Indianapolis, Ind., before Judge Drumond, in the United States Circuit Court, who decided, affirming the validity of the Holly patent.

1878 Birdsill Holly v. Union City, Indiana, 14 Off. Gaz. 5, June 3, 1878, Circuit Court, District of Indiana.

1878 "The Holly Suit," Engineering News 5:233 (July 25, 1878)
Decision of the U.S. Circuit Court in the case.  Birdsill Holly vs. Union City, Indiana.

1879 "Holly Water Works against Union City, Ind.," Engineering News 6:75 (March 8, 1879)
Full text of the final decree in the case of Birdsell Holly vs. Union City.

1878 "The Holly System of Water Supply and Fire Protection for Cities and Villages," Scientific American Supplement, 6(140supp):2219-2234 (September 7, 1878)

1879 "Water Works Systems, Ancient and Modern," The Burlington Free Press, July 5, 1879, Page 2.
Birdsill Holly's claims to a new system reviewed and exposed--No pump, No System and an old Regulator.

1880 "Edison's Electric Light," by Francis R. Upton (Mr. Edison's mathematician), Scribner's Monthly 19(4):531-544 (February, 1880)
Page 535:  Mr. Edison's idea in regard to the electric light was that, in all respects, it should take the place of gas. Following the analogy of water, the inventor conceived of a system which should resemble the Holly water works. As the water is pumped directly into pipes which convey it under pressure to the point where it is to be used, so the electricity is to be forced into the wires and delivered under pressure at its destination. In the case of water, after being used, it flows away by means of a sewer-pipe, and is lost. But it is easy to imagine that the water used in working machinery, for instance, instead of being lost, might be returned to the pumps and used over and over again. With such a system as this, we should have a perfect analogy to the Edison electric lighting system; The electricity, after being distributed under pressure and used, is returned to the central station.

1880 Lockport Daily Journal, May 11, 1880, Page 3.
Description of water works owned by the city and under control of the Holly Manufacturing Company.

1880 Birdsill Holly v. Vergennes Machine Company, 18 O.G. 1177, 18 Blatch. 327, 4 Fed. Rep. 74, October 5, 1880, Circuit Court, District of Vermont | Decision |

1880 "An important water works legal decision," Engineering News 7:343-344 (October 16, 1880)

1880 "Decisions Related to Patents," Scientific American 43(24):376-377 (December 11, 1880)
Holly vs. Vergennes Machine Company.

1881 "Lockport in Ashes," Batavia Daily News, January 6, 1881, Page 1.
The Hodge Opera House and Gargling Oil Works Destroyed. The firemen with the Holly water works, fought the flames until 6 a.m.

1881 "The City of Lake View Sued for Infringing the Holly Water Works Patents," The Inter Ocean (Chicago, Illinois), April 5, 1881, Page 6.

1881 Lockport, from Engineering News, 8:510 (December 17, 1881).

1881 "B. Holly's Patent Fire Hydrants," Holly Manufacturing Company.

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

1885 Engineering News 14:221 (October 3, 1885)
About 40 laborers, employed by contractors McKee & Lally, at Lockport, N.Y., struck for an increase of pages from 90 cents to $1.25 per day.  The men have been engaged digging a trench for the new waterworks.

1886 Lockport Daily Journal, March 23, 1886, Page 3.
From the Committee on Finance: To the Hon. the Common Council: Your Committee on Finance, to whom were referred the plan and estimate for new water works for this city, reported to the Honorable, the Board of Water Commissioners, by the City Surveyor, February 23, 1836, and by them submitted to your honorable body, and to whom was also referred the notice of termination of pumping contract by the Holly Manufacturing Co., beg leave to report the following preamble and resolutions, and recommend their adoption:
WHEREAS, In pursuance of a stipulation in an agreement, dated November 30, 1882, between the Board of Water Commissioners of the city of Lockport and the Holly Manufacturing company of said city, the said Board of Water Commissioners were, March 1, 1886, served by the said Holly Manufacturing company with a notice of termination of said agreement, to take effect December 1,1886; and
Whereas, Said notice makes it imperative upon the Common Council of this city to at once take the preliminary steps toward providing the city with water works machinery of its own; and
Whereas, The machinery now in use is almost worn out, and it is necessary to purchase new and more powerful machinery and to provide a house therefor; now be it
Resolved, That this Common Council does hereby determine that it is expedient and for tbe best interests of the city to purchase the engines, machinery and apparatus necessary for the operation of water works, and does hereby determine to make such purchase, and as a preliminary step to such purchase required by section 7 of Title Ten, Chapter 361 of the laws of 1865, as amended May 3, 1882, hereby directs the City Clerk to publish twice In each week for three weeks in the Lockport Daily Union and Lockport Daily Journal, beginning March 23i instant, the following NOTICE TO ELECTORS. Notice is hereby given, that the Common Council of the City of Lockport propose to provide new water works machinery for said city, the description and details of which are as follows: A pump house 63 feet by 31 feet and 30 feet in height, made of stone and located on the north side of the Erie canal, at the foot of Caledonia street, between the present water works building of the Holly Manufacturing Co. and tbe wheel house of the Richmond Manufacturing Co.; a boiler house of stone, 31 feet, by 22 fest and 15 feet high, adjoining said pump house; a wheel house of stone, 24 feet square and 10 feet high, adjoining said pump house; a vertical water power Gaskill pumping engine of 3,000,000 gallons capacity daily; a 200 horse power steam engine; two steel boilers, each 16 feet by 5 feet in dimensions; two 30-lnch water wheels, with two wheel cases; a smokestack 80 feet high and of an average inside diameter of 36 inches; a tunnel 60 feet in length, to be connected with the present tunnel of the Lockport Hydraulic Company, at or near the intersection of the middle of Gooding street, with the middle ot Caledonia street. The total estimated cost of the foregoing improvements is thirty thousand dollars, divided as follows:
Buildings $7,800
Pump 9,000
Engine 7,500
Boilers 2,500
Water wheels and accessories 1,655
Bulkhead, pipe connections and excavation for tunnel 1,845
Total cost $30,000

1886 "Our Water Works," Lockport Daily Journal, April 3, 1886, Page 3.
Ultimatum from Mr. H. F. Gaskill of the Holly Manufacturing Company -- Action and Notification to the Public by the Water Board Commissioners -- The Old Water Works Comparatively Useless -- What is to be Done? -- That is the question to be decided at the upcoming city election.

1886 An act to incorporate the Lockport Water Supply Company.  April 8, 1886.

1886 An act to revise the charter of the city of Lockport.  April 10, 1886.
Title VIII.  Street Lighting and Water-Works.

1886 Lockport Daily Journal, April 14, 1886, Page 3.
Water Works Election. For - 1,851; Against, 359; Majority for Water Works, 1,492.

1886 Prospectus of the Lockport Water Supply Company, Lockport, N.Y., U.S.A., August, 1886.

1887 Lockport Daily Journal, January 14, 1887, Page 2.
Proceedings of the Water Board. Notice to Contractors.  Sealed proposals will be received by the Water Board of the city of Lockport for furnishing of a new pumping station for the water works of the city.

1887 Lockport Daily, Journal, February 11, 1887, Page 3.
Proceedings of the Water Board.  Evaluation of six proposals received from the Holly Manufacturing Company.

1887 Lockport Daily, Journal, February 15, 1887, Page 4.
Common council receipt of recommendation from Water Board.

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

1889 Scientific American 60(16):245 (April 20, 1889)
Harvey F. Gaskill. It is with profound regret we learn of Mr. Gaskill's decease, at Lockport, N. Y., on the 8th inst., at the age of 44 years. Mr. Gaskill was a distinguished engineer and inventor, the active head of the Holly Manufacturing Co., and the real author of the well known Holly water works system. Among the thirty or more patents secured by Mr. Gaskill, and which are of indispensable value to the Holly Manufacturing Company, are the Gaskill horizontal and the perpendicular engines, the Gaskill triple compound pumping engine, a number of water meters, conceded to be the best in use, steam pump, pump valves, engine valves, motion water motors, Gaskill hydrants, etc. The Lockport Daily Union says : "When it is taken into consideration that one single individual is the inventor of a set of water works and pumping machinery that beyond the power of contradiction excel all other inventions in this or any other country, it is wonderful, and in the demise of Mr. Gaskill not only Lockport, but the world at large, has lost one of its greatest benefactors. Untold millions of property have already been saved by this superior class of pumping machinery, and its value is all the time increasing, as new works are being completed in all parts of the country."

1889 "Harvey F. Gaskill," Transactions of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers 10:833-834 1899
In 1873 he entered the employ of the Holly Manufacturing Company, of Lockport, as draughtsman, and in 1877 became their mechanical engineer and superintendent, which he remained till the time of his death.

1890 An act to amend chapter one hundred and six of the laws of eighteen hundred and eighty-six, entitled "An act to incorporate the Lockport Water Supply Company."  May 24, 1890.   Name changed to Lockport Water and Electric Company.

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

[1890?] View of the old Erie Canal at Lockport, Niagara County, showing the two tiers of five locks under construction, with a towpath on the right. The locks take the canal off the Allegheny Plateau down to the Ontario Lake Plain.  This photograph shows the 1863 round water works building on the left and the 1872 building on the right of the canal.  | Both buildings are also shown in this picture |

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

1892 An act to amend chapter one hundred and twenty of the laws of eighteen hundred and eighty-six, entitled “An act to revise the charter of the city of Lockport.”  March 1, 1892.

1894 "An Inventor Dead.  He was Birdsill Holly, of Water-works Fame," The Buffalo Express, April 28, 1894, Page 7.

1897 "Hon. Thomas T. Flagler," Lockport Daily Journal, September 7, 1897, Page 4.

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

1897 Landmarks of Niagara County, New York, by William Pool
Page 120:  The water supply of Lockport had its inception in a reservoir on the site of the later American Hotel: the water being pumped into it by a pump which Lyman A. Spalding had procured to use in case of fire in his early mill. From the reservoir the water flowed by gravity. This inadequate establishment did not long suffice. Fires were frequent and many of them were destructive in spite of the efforts of firemen. This condition of affairs led Birdsall Holly, whose name became famous in connection with his system of supplying water to communities, to turn his attention to devising a remedy. As a result of his genius the Lockport Water Works were constructed in 1864, by a company organized for such undertakings. The system, as now well known, consists briefly in setting up pumping machinery to raise water to a sufficient height and to supply it under pressure, and so regulated by the pressure of the water in the mains that the machinery will respond to the demand. About 6,000 feet of pipe were laid in the village (then soon to become a city) and twenty-seven hydrants were set, the highest of which was seventy-two feet above the pumping station. The machinery was propelled by a turbine wheel under a head of nineteen feet. The contract between the village and the Holly Company stipulated that from a hydrant fifty feet above the pumping station a stream could be thrown through one hundred feet of hose one hundred feet high. At the test the stream was thrown 175 feet under those conditions, and the works were promptly accepted. In 1882 the water works were taken under municipal control. About twenty four miles of mains are now in use, with one pump of 3,000,000 and one of 5,000,000 gallons daily capacity. George H. Drake was the first superintendent, and was succeeded by R. J. Sterrett. The present superintendent is B Burroughs who assumed the office in 1893.
Page 166:  One of the most important industries in Lockport is that of the Holly Manufacturing Company, which was organized May 2, 1859, with $20,000 capital. The original stockholders were Thomas T. Flagler, Charles Keep, Silas H. Marks, L F. Bowen, Washington Hunt, G. W. Bowen, and Birdsall Holly. The company began the manufacture of pumps and hydraulic machinery, and in later years constructed water works for cities and villages after the plans and inventions of Mr. Holly, referred to on an earlier page. They constructed the Lockport Water Works in 1864 and three years later supplied Auburn with a system. Since that time the company has installed their system in hundreds of cities and villages. The massive stone buildings used by the company were completed in 1866. Birdsall Holly is deceased, leaving several sons, only one of whom, Frank W., is resident in Lockport.

1898 Contract between the city of Lockport and the Niagara, Lockport and Ontario Power Company and the Lockport Water and Electric Company, February 16, 1898.
Contract for a supply of pure and wholesome water.

1898 "The Holly System," from Fire and Water 23(24):195 (June 11, 1898) | also here |

1898 The men of New York: a collection of biographies and portraits of citizens of the Empire state prominent in business, professional, social, and political life during the last decade of the nineteenth century, Volume 1, by George E. Matthews,
Pages 100-101:  Thomas T. Flagler.

1902 An act to amend chapter one hundred twenty of the laws of eighteen hundred eighty-six, entitled "An act to revise the charter of the city of Lockport " and the several acts amendatory thereof and supplemental thereto, relating to the construction and maintenance of water works and the procuring of a supply of pure and wholesome water sufficient for public and domestic purposes, and to repeal section one hundred fifty-five of said act.  March 28, 1902. 

1905 Twenty-First Annual Report of the Commissioners of the State Reservation at Niagara
Pages 154-156:  Another company incorporated for the purpose of taking water from the Niagara river is the “Lockport Water Supply Company,” which received its grant by chapter 106 of the Laws of 1886. This company is authorized to issue capital stock in all amount not to exceed $10,000,000, and to take water from the Niagara river at a point near Tonawanda. Its purpose is to supply the water taken from the river to the city of Lockport, and any towns or villages in Niagara county, for municipal, sanitary, domestic, manufacturing or agricultural purposes. According to the terms of the grant, work was to be actually begun within five years from the date of the act, but, by chapter 438 of the Laws of 1890, its powers were extended and jurisdiction given to supply water throughout Niagara, Erie and Orleans counties, and the time in which work must be begun Was extended to ten years from the time of the passing of the amendment. The name of this company has been changed to that of the “Lockport Water and Electric Company.” It is not limited in the amount of water it is authorized to take from the river, and no compensation has been or is to be given to the State for the powers and privileges granted. Your committee understands that no work has been begun under the provisions of this charter. 

1907 Second Annual Report of the State Water Supply Commission of New York for the year ending February 1, 1907
Pages 132-149:  In the matter of the application of the City of Lockport for approval of its maps and plans for water supply.  Approved July 13, 1906.
Page 134:  That prior to the year 1887, a certain water company under the name and style of the Holly Manufacturing Company, among whose objects and purposes were to supply the city of Lockport and its inhabitants thereof with water, had acquired by deeds, contracts and franchises certain property, rights, privileges and easements, and did until the year 1887 supply the city of Lockport and its inhabitants with water taken from the Erie canal. That such water was used for but fire and sanitary purposes, and was not supplied for domestic purposes, either before or after filtration.

1908 "Lockport, New York," National Magazine 27:683-689 (March, 1908)
Page 684:  Lockport water system is being changed to an immense water plant located on the Niagara River at North Tonawanda, about thirteen miles from Lockport, the water being conveyed in a thirty-inch pipe, the working being will under way and to be completed June, 1908, which will give Lockport an unlimited supply of pure water equal to any in the country.

1912 Municipal Journal and Engineer 32(20):770 (May 16, 1912)
Breaking of Pump Limits Water Supply
North Tonawanda, N. Y..—The large 6,000,000-gallon pump at the water works station has broken down. As a result the water supply will be limited for about three weeks. The crippling of the water works means that in case of fire or other emergencies the city of Lockport will he called upon to help North Tonawanda's water works in furnishing a sufficient supply of water. The Lockport water system and the North Tonawanda systems are connected at Wheatfield street, and Lockport's system can become a part of the local system by the mere opening of a valve. Arrangements have been made with Lockport officials to cut in the Lockport service at any time the fire whistle is sounded. Three hours after the pump broke down a fire call was sent in, but before the Lockport system could be cut in the fire had been extinguished by the use of chemicals.

1912 Board of Education of City of Lockport v. Richmond et al., June, 1912, Supreme Court, Equity Term, Niagara County.
The board of education of Lockport being a municipal corporation distinct from the city, the Water commissioners should not, for nonpayment, resort to remedy provided in city charter of shutting off the water supply to the public Schools; Water being a public necessity, and the duty of paying the rates being a ministerial one, enforceable by mandamus.

1925 Whitbeck v. Niagara Lockport and Ontario Power Company

1932 "The Filtration Plant and Pumping Station at Lockport, New York," by J. F. Laboon, Journal of the American Water Works Association 24(4):483-493. (April, 1932)

1933 "Harvey Freeman Gaskill," from The National Cyclopedia of American Biography 33:187 (1933).

1937 "Birdsall Holly," from The National Cyclopedia of American Biography 26:108-109 (1937). 

Fire Hydrants, Creepy Inventors, and Sharknados: Why You Should Travel with a Writer

Lockport Cave and Underground Boat Ride



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