Documentary History of American Water-works

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Middle Atlantic States New York Ogdensburg

Ogdensburg, New York

Ogdensburg was first settled by Americans in 1796 and originally known as Ogdensburgh.  It was chartered as a city in 1868.

The Ogdensburgh Aqueduct Company was incorporated in 1827 by George Guest, Charles D. Raymond, David C. Judson, Richard Freeman Jr., and Baron S. Doty "for the purpose of supplying the village of Ogdensburgh, in the county of St. Lawrence, with water by means of aqueducts."  No evidence has been found that this company built a system.

The Ogdensburg Water-Works Company was incorporated in 1854 with no named incorporators, "for the purpose of supplying the said village of Ogdensburgh with water."  The president and trustees of the village of Ogdensburgh were appointed as commissioners to receive the subscriptions to the said capital stock, and award the same after advertising for proposals, which would specify the price per annum, for each hydrant, at which the parties proposing will furnish water to the said village corporation for public purposes, and also the terms in which, and the date at and any time after which, they will allow the village corporation to become the owners of the works; and such proposals shall contain any other specifications which the said board may deem important.  No record of any proposals being received has been found.

After several fires in the 1860s, a plan was developed to build a reservoir on Limekiln Hill, but notice had been made of the new Holly Water Works system, and the gentlemen from the Holly Manufacturing Company of Lockport were invited to present their plan to the community.  A committee visited the Holly system in Auburn that had been installed in November, 1865, and enthusiastically recommended its adoption in Ogdensburg.  A detailed proposal was assembled and approved by voters on July 7, 1868.  Contracts were let for the pumping machinery, pipe, and installation, and the system was thoroughly tested on January 21, 1869.  A steam engine was installed in 1871 as an auxiliary to the water power.

The water system grew rapidly, and by 1874 the three initial Holly water-driven pumps were supplemented by a Flanders water pump, built by a firm in Vergennes, Vermont that had earlier replaced their Holly pumps.  The Flanders pump worked very well, and a second pump of a similar design was installed in December, 1880.  In October, 1880, however, the Holly company had prevailed in a patent suit against Flanders and sought damages from communities that had installed Flanders pumps, including Vergennes and Ogdensburg.  The two cities collaborated on negotiating an agreement, but the ultimate outcome has not been ascertained.

Water service is provided by the City of Ogdensburg.

1827 An act to incorporate the Ogdensburgh Aqueduct Company.  April 2, 1827.

1854 An act to incorporate the Ogdensburgh Water-Works Company.  April 1, 1854.

1854 An act to amend the charter of the village of Ogdensburgh.  April 10, 1854.
12. Whenever water-works shall be constructed, supplying said village with water for public purposes, the board of trustees shall lay out and establish a water district, and from time to time, as may be necessary, extend the same, so that the boundaries thereof shall at all times be outside of, and not more than fifteen hundred feet beyond the line of the outermost hydrants. In each year thereafter, the said board shall certify to the assessors, during the time in which they are by law required to make their roll, the amount of the expense of furnishing water for one year in said district, for public purposes, which amount shall be assessed upon the taxable property in the district, and be collected and paid over to the treasurer with other taxes, if any.

1868 The Ogdensburgh Daily Journal, March 17, 1868, Page 3.
Water Works - Messrs. Holly & Flagler, water works men, of Lockport, will arrive in town today, and will meet the water-works committee at the office of C. I. Baldwin, State street, at half past two P..M., today.  Such of our citizens as are interested in hearing Mr. Holly are invited to attend.

1868 An act to incorporate the city of Ogdensburg.  April 27, 1868.  Authorized the city to construct water works.

1868 "Report of the Committee on Water Works," The Ogdensburg Daily Journal, May 8, 1868, Page 2.  Includes detailed cost information.

1868 "Plan for Water Works," The Ogdensburg Daily Journal, June 30, 1868, Page 2.  Information provided to voters.

1868 "Report of the Board of Water Commissioners," The Ogdensburg Journal, July 8, 1868, Page 2.

1868 The Ogdensburg Daily Journal, July 8, 1868, Page 3.
Water Works Election.  The whole number of votes cast was 212, of which 177 were for, and 35 against.

1868 The Ogdensburg Daily Journal, July 23, 1868, Page 3.
A Strike. The laborers employed on the water works, in this city, who were receiving a compensation of $1.50 per day of ten hours, struck for a reduction of time, on Tuesday morning, and were permitted to leave.  They had been at work but one week, understood perfectly the number of hours they were to work for the amount of pay.  The Common Council, who are working for the public, have determined not to permit anyone to say what rules and regulations shall govern them in prosecuting the work to supply the city with water.  Laboring men can find plenty of work in Ogdensburg at $1.50 for ten hours.

1868 The Ogdensburg Journal, October 26, 1868, Page 2.
Water works ordinance and water rates.

1868 "Mayor's Report," The Ogdensburg Journal, December 4, 1868, Page 2.

1869 "Our Water Works," The Ogdensburg Daily Journal, January 25, 1869, Page 2.

1871 The Ogdensburg Journal, January 27, 1871, Page 3.
The steam engine, purchased for the water works is now in complete running order.

1874 "The Water Works - New Flanders Pump," The Ogdensburg Journal, April 21, 1874, Page 3.

1878 "The Holly System of Water Supply and Fire Protection for Cities and Villages," Scientific American Supplement, 6(140supp):2219-2234 (September 7, 1878)
Page 2219: The Auburn works had triplicate rotary pumps and turbines, and works having similar pumping apparatus were subsequently introduced at Minneapolis, Minn. ; Gouverneur, Ogdensburg and Potsdam, N. Y.; Canton, Ohio; and Allegan, Mich.

1880 The Ogdensburg Journal, March 3, 1880, Page 3.
The increased demand upon our water works requires the replacement of the Holly rotary pumps with something of greater capacity.  The Flanders pump put in six years ago has run continuously night and day all that time with an expense of only $20 for repairs.  It has done all all the domestic pumping since it was started.  The board of water commissioners are considering the necessity and are disposed to purchase a Lang pump with is an improvement on the Flanders and which will raise 75 gallons with each stroke of the plunger.

1880 "A New Lang Pump Purchased and Put Up," The Ogdensburg Journal, December 23, 1880, Page 3.

1881 Watertown Re-Union, July 27, 1881, Page 3.
A Mr. Benjamin, an agent of the Holly Water Works company is in Ogdensburg, attempting to collect $3,000 from that city for an alleged infringement of a patent by the late introduction of the Flanders and the Lang Pumps.

1881 Ogdensburg, Engineering News, 8:394 (October 1, 1881)

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

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

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

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

1891 Official Reports of Various Duty Trials of the Gaskill Pumping Engines, Holly Manufacturing Company
Page 12:  Ogdensburg, Holly Water Power, capacity 2,000,000 gallons daily.

1894 Our County and Its People: A Memorial Record of St. Lawrence County, New York, by Gates Curtis
Page 364: City Water Works on the Holly system were erected at the south  end of the dam in the summer of 1869, at an expense of $135,000.  Water mains were laid mostly of cement pipe, through the principal streets of Ogdensburg the first year, and several fire hydrants set.  The pumps are driven by a turbine for domestic purposes, and two extra ones are held in reserve for fire purposes, together with a large steam engine that can readily be coupled in case of drought or accident. In 1893 there were nearly twenty miles of mains, 106 fire hydrants and 118 gates.

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

1907 Reminiscences of Ogdensburg, 1749-1907, by Daughters of the American Revolution. New York. Swe-kat-si Chapter, Ogdensburg, Nellie Merriam, Laura M. Hasbrouck, Mary Chapin Brown, Lucia James Madill, Charlotte L. Shepard, Annie E. Daniels, Emily J. Spratt
Page 178: The attention of the municipal government was early called to the necessity of establishing a proper water system. Many animated discussions took place among the citizens as to which should be used, the water of the St. Lawrence or of the Oswegatchie. A noted public meeting was held in the old town hall, and it would be of great interest were I able to reproduce the arguments of the gentlemen who addressed the meeting upon that occasion. The address of the late Gen. R. W. Judson, as recorded and delivered on many an occasion by our late beloved friend and neighbor, Col. E. C. James, is well worthy to be preserved for all time to come. After full and free discussion it was finally decided to use the Oswegatchie water, and in the summer of 1869, the City Water Works on the Holly system were erected at the south end of the dam. Water mains were laid, mostly of cement pipe, through the principal streets of the city the first year, and several fire hydrants set. Those cement pipes have been replaced by cast iron and the mains have been enlarged and largely extended, and the city abundantly furnished with hydrants for fire purposes of the most approved pattern. Sometime after the water-works buildings were enlarged and reconstructed and new machinery installed. Not long ago the city entered into an agreement with the State authorities to furnish water to the State Hospital, and we are advised it has given entire satisfaction. It has always been a source of regret to many of the townspeople that the shores of the upper Oswegatchie, with their beautiful trees, were not preserved as a park instead of being given over for residential purposes, and it is hoped that some time action may be taken to utilize this river shore for a park, which would be both beautiful and beneficial.

2015 Morris A. Pierce