Documentary History of American Water-works

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North Central States
Ohio Portsmouth

Portsmouth, Ohio

Portsmouth was incorporated as a town in 1815 and as a city in 1851.

The city built a Holly water system that began service on February 22, 1872, pumping water from the Ohio river using a steam-driven Holly gang and rotary pumps.  The Common Council considered selling the system in 1889, but instead several new pumps were added starting in 1890 and a new plant was opened in 1914.

Water is supplied by the city of Portsmouth.

1870 "An ordinance ordering the construction of water works, and establishing trustees of the same," Portsmouth Daily Times, December 17, 1870, Page 2.

1871 "The Water Works," Portsmouth Times, June 3, 1871, Page 2.

1872 Portsmouth Daily Times, February 24, 1872, Page 3.
The water works gave an exhibition of their works on the 22d at the water works, the corner of Fourth and Court and in front of the Times office.  Water was thrown thirty feet above the top of Massic Block.  Citizens were generally well pleased.

1872 "Report of the Trustees of Water Works to the City Council," Portsmouth Times, May 11, 1872, Page 2.  Also by-laws, regulations, and rates.

1872 "Water Works Items," Portsmouth Times, October 19, 1872, Page 3.
Material is kept in readiness to start the rotary pumps at a moment's warning.

1882 Portsmouth, from Engineering News 9:289  (August 19, 1872)

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

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

1889 "Sober Thoughts," Portsmouth Times, September 28, 1889, Page 1. | Part 2 | Editorial |
About the Transfer of the City Water Works.

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

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

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

1909 Fourth Annual Report of the Commissioner of Health of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Part 2.
Page 1436:  Portsmouth, Ohio water works.

1916 A Standard History of the Hanging Rock Iron Region of Ohio: An Authentic Narrative of the Past, with an Extended Survey of the Industrial and Commercial Development, Volume 1, by Eugene B. Willard
Pages 170-171:  Portsmouth.  Founding the First Waterworks. The long agitation for a city system of waterworks gave birth to the passage of an ordinance, in December, 1870, which provided that it should be established on the Holly plan of water-supply and fire-protection. The founding of the works was placed in the hands of three trustees, specially elected for the purpose—Phillip H. Kelly, Charles S. Green and Lewis C. Robinson. On March 3, 1871, an ordinance was passed which “set apart and appropriated that part of the public landing, so called and known, as lies between the old corporation line and the east line of Gay street and between Mill street and the Ohio river” to the uses of the waterworks trustees; and thereon was constructed the necessary machinery. The contract for constructing the works complete, which were ready for use in April, 1872, was given to Weir and Overdale. On May 8th of that year, the trustees of the waterworks reported that the total cost of the
installation of the system had been $132,291.13; that there were nearly eight and a half miles of mains and 16,114 feet of service pipe.
The growing city required an enlargement of the works in every department, so that by the middle ’80s nearly twenty miles of pipe was in service, with about thirteen hundred hydrants, of which some ninety were for the use of the fire department. Although a vast improvement over the public wells, the old waterworks were very imperfect and unsatisfactory; but they filled the bill, in a way, for a period of forty years.
Building of the Present Water System.  In 1908 there was a general demand for a new system of waterworks, and the common council appointed a committee of citizens to study the needs of the community with reference thereto. After three years a decision was reached and the proposed plan was submitted to the State Board of Health. That body recommended minor changes as to location and nature of installation; it was upon the recommendation of the state board that the reservoir was placed on Timmonds Hill and the general location of the plant fixed at its present site on the banks of the Ohio River, five miles east of the city.
The committee of citizens, by whom the original investigations were conducted, resigned, and the common council, as a body, built the works. The contracts were let in August, 1911, and, on account of vexatious delays, the works were not completed until after about three years; and there are still defects which experts claim should be remedied, in order to guarantee the city against a shortage of water in case of a break in a main.
The pumping station and the filtering plant are on the river bank, a quarter of a mile apart, and the clear-water basin, or purifying station, on Timmonds Hill, not far to the northwest. The general plan of distribution includes a direct connection of this outlying plant with the City of Portsmouth, which is encircled by a belt of water pipes.
The total value of the Portsmouth system of waterworks as now installed is estimated at $750,000. Adam Frick, the present mayor of Portsmouth, has been a leader in the founding of the waterworks now in commission.

1935 "Kentucky Tax," The Cincinnati Enquirer, October 19, 1935, Page 14.
Must be paid on City Property, Portsmouth City Council is told by attorney.

1937 Seventeenth Annual Report of the Ohio Conference on Water Purification, held at Cincinnati on October 21 and 22, 1937
Page 75:  Portsmouth Water Works in the 1937 Flood, by H. C. Growdon.
On January 13th, the stage of the Ohio River at Portsmouth was 38 feet and steadily rising. On January 22nd it had reached a stage of 64 feet, water had entered

© 2019 Morris A. Pierce