Documentary History of American Water-works

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

Rome, New York

Rome was settled around 1750 and was incorporated as a city in 1870.

The Rome Aqueduct Company was incorporated in 1832 by Bela B. Hyde, Amos Parmalee, Plina Darrow, Hiram Wheedon, Jane Lynch and Peter A Jay, John O'Neil, Thomas Hurmatty, Lyman Briggs, Jeremiah B. Brainerd, James Merrill, and Jeremiah Brainerd "for supplying the village on or near the Erie canal, in the town of Rome, Oneida county, with good and wholesome water, by means of conduits or aqueducts."

The Rome Water Works Company was incorporated in 1851 by Benjamin N. Huntington, Horace Adams, John Stryker, Edward Huntington, Jesse Armstrong, Roland S Doty, Calvert Comstock, John B. Jervis and Hervey Brayton for "the purpose of supplying the village of Rome with pure and wholesome water."  The charter was revived in 1853 and the incorporated were changed to Bloomfield J. Beach, Horace Adams, John Stryker, Edward Huntington, Enoch B. Armstrong, Roland S. Doty, Calvert Comstock, Hervey Brayton and John B. Jervis.

The Rome Hydraulic Company was incorporated in 1855 by Edward Huntington, John Stryker, Samuel W. Mudge, David Utley, William E. Wright, Seth B. Roberts, and Newton M. Wardwell to maintain or reconstruct a dam, provide water for hydraulic power, and to supply the village of Rome with pure and wholesome water. 

No evidence has been found that any of these companies built anything.

The 1870 charter for the City of Rome authorized them to contract with a company to supply water, or to build their own water works.  They chose the latter option and constructed a system that began service on December 2, 1872, pumping water from the Mohawk River using water power to an elevated reservoir.  Cement-lined wrought-iron pipe was used initially, but was replaced with cast iron.  The system was expanded in 1909, 1937, 1957, and 1964.  The Frank Clark Water Filtration Facility was opened in August, 1987.

Water is provided by the City of Rome, which has a water system history page.

1832 An act to incorporate the Rome Aqueduct Company.  April 24, 1832.

1851 An act to incorporate the Rome Water Works Company.  April 8, 1851.

1853 An act to revive and amend chapter ninety-six, Laws of eighteen hundred and fifty-one, entitled "An act to incorporate the Rome Water Works Company."  April 8, 1853.

1855 An act to incorporate the Rome Hydraulic Company.  April 9, 1855.

1867 An act to amend the act to incorporate the "Rome Hydraulic Company," passed April ninth, eighteen hundred and fifty-five, so as to increase the number of directors, and to provide for the choice of inspectors of election.  March 11, 1867.

1869 The Ogdensburg Journal, May 17, 1869, Page 3.
The people of Rome are moving in relation to water works, and held a meeting at the Court House on Wednesday evening, of last week, to consider the subject.  Messrs. Flagler and Keith, of the Holly Manufacturing Company, were present and explained the workings of their system.  The Romans should sens a committee to Ogdensburg to examine our works which are built upon the Holly plan, and which work to a charm.  The Holly plan, we believe, will become the most popular system ever invented for the purpose of supplying villages and cities with water and protection against fire.

1869 New York World, June 9, 1869, Page 1.
The citizens of Rome, N. Y., yesterday voted on the question of taking stock to the amount of $60,000 in the proposed water-works for the village.  The vote stood at 323 for the project to 391 against it.

1870 An act to incorporate the city of Rome.  February 23, 1870.
15. To contract with any hydraulic company for supply of water for said city, and regulate and keep in repair the reservoirs, hydrants, water-pipes and public wells in said city.
28. To provide by ordinance for the supplying the city with pure and wholesome water.

1871 The Ogdensburg Journal, August 31, 1871, Page 2.
Rome has decided to erect water works by a vote of 558 for, to 208 against. The event was elevated with fire works, music and cannons.

1872 "The Rome Water Works," Daily Albany Argus, December 9, 1872, Page 2.

1878 History of Oneida County, New York: With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Some of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers
Page 389: Rome City Water-Works. The present system of water-works in Rome was established in 1872. George Merrill, at that time mayor of the city, visited some of the principal cities in the Union and examined their water systems, and finally the commissioners adopted the machinery made at Watertown, N. Y., as being the cheapest, most durable, and most powerful of any which had come under their inspection. Two pumps are in use, made on the horizontal, double-action plan, and have a capacity of 84 gallons per revolution, with a force of 535 horse-power. The daily average of water pumped is 900,000 gallons, while, if necessary, the amount can be raised to 1,200,000. The water-pressure has been tested as high as 160 pounds to the square inch; with this force the hose belonging to the city would burst in pieces. The usual pressure is 50 pounds at the works, or 60 at the city, the fall in the intervening distance, and the advantage of a straight pipe, raising it 10 pounds; 100 pounds per square inch is the highest ever used. The pumps are run entirely by water-power, the dam being six feet in height. A short raceway is used, and a turbine-wheel with surface capable of taking 1840 inches of water. The average daily run is fourteen hours, the pumps not being kept in operation Sundays nor nights, except in case of necessity. The water is elevated 65 feet into a circular reservoir 21 feet in depth and 297 in diameter, having a capacity for 9,000,000 gallons. This reservoir is kept constantly full. There are in the city about 13 miles of water-mains and a few over 100 hydrants. The original cost of the works, or the amount for which bonds were issued, was $160,000; this has been increased to about $172,000 at the present date (July, 1878). Not more than twenty-five dollars have been laid out for repairs. Until the winter of 187778 telegraphic signals were established between the city and the waterworks; but the telephone has since been introduced, and works very satisfactorily. William N. Mott, a man of much experience with machinery, is chief engineer, and has his residence at Ridge Mills, where the works are located. The general superintendent is Charles T. Hayden, with the office at Rome. The members of the Water Board are Mayor E. L. Stevens, B. J. Beach, G. V. Selden, John J. Parry, Theodore Comstock. The system has proved very effective here, and although numerous alarms of fire have been given in the city, the force of the streams from the hydrants is such that flames are speedily extinguished.

1881 Rome, Engineering News, 8:393 (October 1, 1881)

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

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

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

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

1896 Our County and Its People: A Descriptive Work on Oneida County, New York, by Daniel Elbridge Wager
Page 528: The Rome water works were established in 1872 and are owned by the city, bonds having been issued to the amount of about $172,000 for the purpose. The plant comprises two horizontal, double action pumps, with a capacity of eighty-four gallons per revolution. The usual pressure is about fifty pounds to the square inch, but this can be greatly increased. The water is elevated sixty-five feet into a reservoir twenty-one feet deep and 297 feet in diameter, with capacity of 9,000,000 gallons There are now about 2,000 consumers, and the pressure is such that there is very little need for fire engines. The water works are in charge of the Water and Sewerage Commission, comprising in 1896, W. J. P. Kingsley, ex-officio, chairman, John S. Baker, H. S. Bedell, A. R. Kessinger, and J. S. Haselton. H. S. Wetherbee is superintendent.

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

2015 Morris A. Pierce