Documentary History of American Water-works

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North Central States
Ohio Canton

Canton, Ohio

Canton was incorporated as a village in 1815 and as a city in 1854.

The city built Holly water works in 1870 taking water from Meyers Lake by direct pumping steam engines.  The system was designed by Joseph L. PillsburyCement-lined wrought-iron pipes were used initially, but proved unsatisfactory and were replaced with cast iron pipes.  The lake was replaced with water from Nimishillen creek in 1873, and later from from artesian wells.

Water is supplied by the city of Canton

1869 "The Canton Water Works, Their probable profits &c.", by J.L. Pillsbury, The Stark County Democrat (Canton, Ohio), June 16, 1869, Page 2.

1869 "Second Report of the Committee on Water Works," The Stark County Democrat (Canton, Ohio), July 21, 1869, Page 3.

1869 "The Holly Water Works," The Stark County Democrat (Canton, Ohio) August 25, 1869, Page 3.
Report of the Covington, Ky., Committee

1869 "Fourth Report of the Committee on Water Works," The Stark County Democrat (Canton, Ohio), September 29, 1869, Page 3.

1869 B. Holly's system of fire protection and water supply, for cities and villages. Third Edition
Page 28:  Canton, Ohio.  The works are to be propelled by waer, are in style and capacity like the Minneapolis works, and combine fire protection and water supply.

1870 "The Glorious 22nd," The Stark County Democrat (Canton, Ohio) February 23, 1870, Page 3.
Grand Celebration in Canton.  The Water Works a Triumphant Success.

1870 Report of trustees of Canton City Water Works, and report of J.L. Pillsbury, engineer, together with report of Messrs. C. Aultman, E. Ball and John Laird, and rules and regulations.

1874 "Water Works," The Stark County Democrat (Canton, Ohio), February 26, 1874, Page 1.
Itemized report of trustees.
The excessive dry weather of 1871 compelled the substitution of a more economical water wheel for domestic purposes, and the continued dry weather of 1872 made the water power so unreliable for fire purposes that it became necessary to put in a steam pump and a pair of boilers.
During the winter of 1872-'73 and early spring of 1873, the steam pump and boilers were put in, which, with the pump and boiler house, cost $6,750.

1874 "The Water Works and Gas Fittings Swindles," The Stark County Democrat (Canton, Ohio), December 17, 1874, Page 4.

1875 "The Water Works Suit," The Stark County Democrat (Canton, Ohio), April 25, 1875, Page 1.
City of Canton vs. Louis Schaefer et al.

1875 "Canton's Water Supply," The Stark County Democrat (Canton, Ohio), May 20, 1875, Page 5.
Our water works trustees correspond with engineer Chesbrough, of Chicago.

1878 "Canton City Water Works," The Stark County Democrat (Canton, Ohio), March 28, 1878, Page 5.
Full report of the Trustees from January 1, 1876 to March 1, 1878.

1881 History of Stark County: With an Outline Sketch of Ohio, by William Henry Perrin
Page 288:  City of Canton.  Meyer's Lake.  This lake is also the natural supply for the water consumption of Canton City, through, on account of deficiencies of one kind or the other, the city has to depend to a considerable extent on the West Nimishillen Creek for its water supply, for fire protection and even for ordinary demands.
Page 345:   Previous to the year 1869, some action had been taken by the City Council to utilize the water of Meyer's Lake, as a permanent water supply for Canton, both for domestic and manufacturing use, and for protection against fire. The committee of the former City Council had decided, on examination, to adopt the Holly system, and J. L. Pillsbury, an experienced civil engineer, had made surveys and estimates which clearly indicated the practicability of the work. In the organization of the City Council in 1869, Messrs Louis Schaefer, Jacob Hawk and Daniel Worley became the Water-Works Committee, and, at a later day, were, under the law, elected the first Board of Trustees of Water-Works. Under their management, aided by the wise and experienced counsel of Mr. Pillsbury, the work was pressed forward rapidly ; the citizens of Canton, by vote, authorized measures for raising the necessary funds; and by February, 1870, the works were in successful operation. On the first public trial of the new water-works Feb. 22, 1870, the District Court was in session, and the Judges were specially invited to witness their working. Upon the recommendation of the civil engineer, a majority of the committee on water-works had adopted the cement pipe for mains through the city. These had hardly dried long enough enjoy. for any test. The day was cold and windy.  Everything, however, went off well, until engineer and trustees became infatuated and consented to an undue increase of the pressure, which blew out a waste at the West Creek. There was a hurrying and a flurrying among Trustees and engineer until the exact locality of the trouble had been discovered. This was on a Saturday, and by the following Sunday evening, everything had been put again into good running order. The cement pipes in this soil did not prove a success, and they have been gradually replaced by iron pipe, which with the extensions made from year to year, gives Canton to-day one of the best systems of protection against fire to be found anywhere. The larger manufacturing establishments have not only introduced the water for ordinary use, but have also connections for emergencies from fire by which they can almost entirely save themselves from the ravages of this king of terrors.

1884 Canton, from Engineering News 11:262  (May 24, 1884)

1886 "New Water Works Engine," The Stark County Democrat (Canton, Ohio) December 2, 1886, Page 8.
The Water Works Trustees purchase a new Worthington pump.  With a capacity of three million gallons per day -- the purchase price $12,300 -- a valuable and timely act.
The engine now in use, also a Worthington, has pumped the water for the city for about six years and it is said that there has never been a break in its perfect working and that thus far no repairs have been needed. This engine originally cost $8,000 and has a capacity of 2,000,000 gallons of water per day.

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

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

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

1892 "The Canton (O.) Water-works," Fire and Water Engineering 12(18) (October 29, 1892) | also here |
I paid a visit to the Canton water-works on Friday last and was very cordially received by all the officials. An inspection of the works showed a most progressive and highly satisfactory condition of affairs. Improvements to meet the demands of a city of about 30,000 inhabitants, that owing to its increased population on account of manufactories and the natural growth of its people, are fully appreciated by the trustees, were in progress. Notably among these was the extension of the well system, about one mile from the pumping station. There are now thirty-two wells in existence, averaging 275 feet in depth. These wells are pumped by a Gordon vertical engine into a receiving basin, from which a conduit is connected with the pump well and then distribu’ed by direct pressure. A drilling outfit owned by the city and operated by the water department is constantly adding to this supply. In sinking the wells iso feet of shale has to be passed, which makes the work one of considerable difficulty. Around the pumping station a beautiful park has been laid out with graveled walks, shade trees and a pretty stream of water that forms a cascade at the upper end and flows through its centre. The pumping station is a fine buildnig, two stories in height end of pleasing design. It contains two Worthington compound condensing engines of two and three million gallons daily capacity respectively. During the dry season these engines are called upon to pump 4,500,000 gallons, so that it will be seen the margin is very small. Superintendent Ohliger informed me that the two-million pump had been in constant use for e’ght years and had only cost $17 for repairs. This is an excellent record, which I think can scarcely be surpassed. Both engines now work alternately, but as stated above the demand upon their maximum capacity is so exacting that a new engine will soon have to be added to the present plant. Another improvement contemplated is the construction of a standpipe, which the trustees have become convinced is necessary to relieve the direct pressure and reduce pumpage expenses. There are forty-five miles oi mains in the distribution and there are extensions being made in all sections of the city. The lowest diameter is four inches and the highest sixteen, but only in cases of necessity will any of the former size be laid in future. The work entailed upon the engines can be judged by the fact that the pressure at the highest point is maintained at thirty-two pounds and at the pumping station over ninety pounds. Several Union meters have been put into large business houses and the rate fixed at six cents per 1000 gallons, but the board has not yet decided its future course as to a general metering system. When it is stated that $161,267 has recently been expended on improvements it will readily be seen to what an extent the works have progressed. Fifteen miles of old mains, mostly cement lined, were replaced with cast-iron and twenty-eight miles of new cast-iron pipe laid ; the three pumps purchased and 2500 feet of addition made to the park. Canton need have no fear of its water interests being neglected while its present board of trustees are in office, as they are quite abreast of the times and understand thoroughly what the city requires. To L. B. Ohliger. superintendent, I am indebted for the above information. The board of trustees are : M. J. Hogan, president, Daniel Paar and D. Cobaugh. Paul Field is secretary.

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

1904 Old landmarks of Canton and Stark County, Ohio, by John Danner
Pages 1208- 1210:  Louis Schaefer

1958 The Suburban Era 1917-1958, Volume 4, Part 2 of The Stark County Story, by Edward Thornton Heald.
Pages 245-253:  History of the Massillon Water Supply.

2019 "Canton’s water history: From ‘old, musty socks’ to today," by Kelly Bayer, (July 13, 2010)
1869: The Canton water system was established for a population of 8,000. Water came from Meyers Lake and through a pumping station on Elgin Avenue NW, inspiring the name of Waterworks Park.
1873: Because the lake water tasted and smelled unpleasant, the city began using water from the West Branch of Nimishillen Creek. Crews dammed the creek south of Fulton Road NW and built a parallel canal, the Canton Waterworks Raceway, to supply water. Treating surface water was unheard of and typhoid fever became common until chlorine was added.
1890: The city purchased more land in Waterworks Park and drilled 25 wells. They produced little, so Canton officials searched for additional ground water.
1902: They found a supply near Ninth Street SW and drilled 40 wells that connected to the Elgin Avenue NW pumping station.
1905: The Elgin Avenue pumping station was reconstructed and upgraded, from an engine with a capacity of 8 million gallons per day to one that could pump 12 million gallons per day. “Canton was booming in a period of its greatest growth and industrial expansion,” according to Canton Water Department records.
1917: Prospectors found an underground water supply on a 73-acre farm northeast of the city and purchased the site of the current Harrisburg Road NE plant. City Council created a Canton Water Commission to advise officials on stabilizing the water supply.
1918 to 1921: The commission made several recommendations, including metering all customers, based on a study by the Morris Knowles Company of Pittsburgh. The city drilled additional wells and built a receiving basin, a distributing reservoir and a high-service pumping station at the northeast field. A receiving basin also was constructed near the Ninth Street SW pumping station.
1920s and 30s: The city continued to drill wells for additional water sources and expanded distribution north of the city.
Late 1930s: The city drilled two large wells in the northeast field and one on newly purchased land just north. The Elgin Avenue pumping station was demolished in 1938. The following year, a new water commission determined the city’s underground water supply would be insufficient by 1980 and recommended building a reservoir.
1944: The city water supply amounted to 13 million gallons a day, with 8 million coming from five wells in the city’s northeast and the rest from two wells in the northwest. City Council had halted reservoir plans by refusing to hire engineers or obtain rights of way for construction, and then the city discovered a water source capable of producing 15 million gallons a day in the northwest, near Guilford Avenue and 38th Street NW. “By reason of the gravel being covered by clay, the pit would recharge itself constantly,” according to Water Department records. “The water in the new field was excellent in taste and softer than the older sources.”
1950: A water softening plant was discussed but ultimately dismissed by Water Department Superintendent Al Ransom, who said Canton still needed a secure supply for the future. Softening would have been expensive and needed at all three sites.
1952: The city started adding fluoride to the water.
1956: Additional prospecting resulted in the discovery of an underground water source near Beach City that could produce 20 million gallons a day — enough to meet the demands of Canton’s 140,000 customers.
1958: The city purchased 75 acres in Tuscarawas County to acquire the new Sugar Creek well field and also began building a northwest supply and filtration plant, which opened the following year.
1962: The Sugar Creek supply and filtration plant began operation. The Ninth Street SW pumping plant was demolished.
1967: Canton demolished the old northeast pumping plant and built a new supply and filtration plant, where department offices are today.
1998: The Sugar Creek plant was expanded.
2009 to 2011: Canton renovated the northwest filtration plan and then the northeast filtration plant and office building.

© 2018 Morris A. Pierce