Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography
North Central States
Ohio Youngstown

Youngstown, Ohio

Youngstown was incorporated as a village in 1848 and as a city in 1867.

The city built a Holly water system that began service on July 18, 1872 using steam-powered gang and rotary pumps. A Worthington pump was added in 1880 and a Deane pump in 1887.

Water is supplied by the city of Youngstown.

1872 "Youngstown," Cleveland Daily Herald, June 5, 1872, Page 2.

1872 "Holly Water Works," The Inter Ocean (Chicago, Illinois), July 9, 1872, Page 2.
Accounts of the Youngstown water works test.

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

1875 Youngstown, Past and Present
Pages 35-36:  A means for supplying the manufactories and private residcnces with water, and also to provide against calamities by fire, became a necessity as the population and business of the town increased, which led -to the erection of the present Water works, which were completed July 18, 1872. The works are erected on the Holly system, and have a capacity of 1,500,000 gallons every 21 hours against a pressure equal to 150 feet head. The machinery consists of one set of double cylinder, crank vailable, cut-off, condensing engines, cylinder 14x24 inches, connected to one crank in such a manner. that both may be run at the same time, or either separately, and are erected on a heavy ornamental arched iron frame. The works are driven by one of Hol1y’s Patent Rotary Steam Engines, of 150 horse power. The works are located on the Mahoning river, west of the city, and are among the finest in the State. The entire cost of their construction was $150,000. There are now about twelve miles of main pipes laid through the streets in the city, and 4,300 feet are now being laid. There are about 539 connections made for private purposes.

1882 Youngstown, from Engineering News 9:436  (December 23, 1882)

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

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

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

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

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

1900 Report of the Engineers on an Improved Water Supply transmitted to the City Council of Youngstown, Ohio.

1907 Twentieth Century History of Youngstown and Mahoning County: Ohio and Representative Citizens, by Thomas W. Sanderson
Page 135-136:  Youngstown City Water Works.
The Youngstown City Water Works was established by an ordinance‘ passed in City Council, May 23, 1871. In the year 1872 a pumping station was erected on the bank of the Mahoning River just west of what was then known as Stull street, now known as North West Avenue. The equipment of the plant at that time was as follows: One Holly Gang pump of one million gallons capacity per twenty-four hours; two Holly rotary pumps, one of two million gallons capacity, and one of three million gallons capacity; one Holly vertical boiler to generate steam for rotary pumps; two return tubular boilers for generating steam for gang pump. With about seven miles of water mains. in sizes from 15inch to 4-inch, cast iron. and 2-inch gas pipe. This plant was installed at a cost of about $135.000. In the year 1886 the Holly rotary fire pumps were replaced by a three million gallon Worthington duplex non-expanding condensing pump. In the year 1879, the Holly rotary fire pumps were replaced by a million gallon Dean duplex compound condensing pump, thus completing the retirement of the entire original pumping plant in the short period of fourteen years. Changes were made from time to time, so that from the humble beginning in 1872, as stated above, the plant has grown in the short period of thirty-four years to the following equipment:
One five million gallons Deane duplex compound condensing pumping engine. Two five million gallon William Tod & Co. cross compound condensing, crank and fly-wheel pumping engine. Two 200-horse-power Stirling water tube boilers. Two 150-horse-power Babcock & Wilcox water tube boilers. Two 200-horse-power Scotch marine boilers. One 3,000 gallons centrifugal pump, used as a booster to increase pressure for fire purposes in high ground.
The Electric Light Plant consists of one Bullock, 50 K. W. generator, direct connected to a 85-horse-power vertical Shepard engine.
There is a filter plant of ten million gallons normal capacity, equipped as follows:
Two ten million gallons William Tod Co. centrifugal pumps, direct connected to Reeves vertical cross compound engines. One fourfive million gallons William Tod Co. centrifugal pump, direct connected to a simple vertical Reeves engine. Two 125-horse-power Sterling water tube boilers.
The outside equipment consists of two stand-pipes of 528,768 gallons capacity each. Ninety-five miles of cast iron water pipe, ranging in size from 4-inch to 24-inch, together with valves, etc. Altogether the equipment has a value on January 1, 1906, of $1,303,171.16.
A mechanical filter plant of 10,000,000 -gallons capacity has been built at Youngstown ( 1905) to treat the water of the Mahoning River, which was formerly pumped under direct pressure into the mains of the distribution system without any attempt at purification. The Mahoning River has a watershed of 960 square miles above the pumping station of the water works in Youngstown and is subject to sudden and considerable variation in flow with corresponding variation in the character of the water.

1916 City Water Works Department, A Souvenir of Opening Days May 10-11, 1916. Howard C. Aley, Collection, Mahoning Valley Historical Society.

1916 "Has New Water Works," The Greenville Journal, May 18, 1916, Page 3.

1916 "Youngstown Water Works," from Fire and Water Engineering 59(23) (June 6, 1916) | also here |
State Examiner Diefenbacher has made a report of his examination of the Youngstown, O., Water Works, covering the period from October 1, 1914, to December 31, 1915. This report states that on December 31, 1915, the water works extension bonds outstanding aggregated $1,170,000, and in 1915 the city paid $48,890 in interest charges. The outstanding bonds also include the Milton reservoir bonds. On the same date there were $582,200 regular water works bonds outstanding, the examiner making a difference between regular water works bonds and water works extension bonds. Last year the department furnished free water service totalling $67,770.49 in value, and the report suggests that some of this free service should be paid for.
The examination further states that the city furnished $10,400.49 worth of free water to the schools, hospitals, nurses home, Old Ladies’ home, library, city building, police station and fire stations. Other free water was furnished for watering troughs, ornamental fountain, parks, playgrounds, street flushing and sprinkling, sewer flushing and fire hydrants. There are 1786 fire hydrants maintained bv the department and this service, if furnished by a private concern, would cost the city not less than $30 per hydrant annually, amounting to $53,580, declares the examiner. In spite of this free service the department’s profits during the year were $42,000, and relative to this the report reads: “For the year 1915, in addition to furnishing free service at an estimated value of $67,770.49, the revenue of the plant exceeded the total cost of operation plus interest on bonds, taxes, which would have to be paid if the plant was privately owned, and a fair charge for depreciation, by nearly $42,000. This is indeed a creditable showing for which commendation is due the various officials having charge of the management of the department.”

1921 History of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley, Ohio, Volume 1, by Joseph Green Butler
Pages 203-204:  In 1870 Youngstown had attained a population of 8,075, the number
of inhabitants almost tripling in the preceding ten years. One of the distinct improvements made about this time was the establishment of a city water works, a project that had been discussed for several years but that had been considered by some a rather ambitious undertaking for Youngstown. The earliest legislation along this line was in the opening months of 1870 when a survey was made by the city engineer, on instructions from council, outlining the possibilities of a waterworks.
It was a year later, or in May, 1871, that a favorable report was made and the Holly system recommended. On May 23, 1871, an ordinance was passed authorizing* the construction of a waterworks and providing for the creation of a board of waterworks trustees to build and manage this municipal utility. At the election on June 17, 1871, Freeman O. Arms was elected for the full three-year term, David Theobald for two years and William B. Pollock for one year.
The board sold $110,000 worth of municipal bonds to. cover the cost of the improvement and the initial installation of pipe, and creditably supervised the work of putting up this first waterworks. The honor of being elected the long-term member of the first waterworks board was one that came justly to Freeman O. Arms, as he had been one of the pioneer- promoters of this improvement and had worked unceasingly to bring it about.
Pages 365-368: The Youngstown City Water Works, a municipally-owned utility as well as a public utility, was established by councilmanic ordinance passed on May 23, 1871, after the need of a better water system for Youngstown had become plainly apparent. To arrange for building and managing this plant a board of waterworks trustees was created, this organization of three members remaining in existence until the amended municipal code became effective in 1903.
The waterworks, or pumping station, was built in 1872 on the west bank of the Mahoning River just above Stull Street, now West Avenue, and the Holly pumping system installed. The equipment consisted of one Holly gang pump of 1,000,000 gallons capacity each twenty-four hours; two Holly rotary pumps, one of 2,000,000 gallons and one of 3,000,000 gallons capacity; one Holly vertical boiler to generate steam for the rotary pumps; two return tubular boilers to generate steam for the gang pump. The original cost of the plant was about $135,000. In 1879, and again in 1886, more modern equipment was installed.
The filter-intake was located in the river more than half way across from the pumping station, the main suction pipes leading from this filter to the pumps. Also a steam whistle was installed, giving Yoqngstown a more modern fire alarm than the fire bell.
With improvements from time to time the old waterworks did service for forty-four years, but was abandoned with the completion of the new pumping station, located on the opposite side of the river and in connection with the filtration plant. The equipment at this new station consists of four stoker equipped boilers of 500 horse power each; one vertical triple expansion pumping engine of 7,500,000 gallons capacity daily; three centrifugal pumps direct connected to turbine engines with 8,000,000 gallons capacity each per day. The plant has a rated pumping capacity of 10,000,000 gallons each twenty-four hours through two separate distributing systems, one against a head of 210 feet, the other against a head of 320 feet. In actual practice the plant delivers about 12,000,000 gallons of water daily.
Youngstown Filtration Plant
The filtration, or filter plant, also municipally-owned, is the outgrowth of a movement begun twenty years ago for a purer domestic water supply. The old system of taking the water directly from the river with no purification except through a netting was well enough when Youngstown was small, but wholly inadequate as the city grew. Disease, especially typhoid fever, became prevalent and was traced to the water supply.
Work on the filter plant was begun in 1904, the location being on the east bank of the Mahoning River, opposite the old pumping station. The plant was completed in June, 1905, the construction work being done by Thomas Lightbody while the equipment was installed by the William Tod Company.
In 1912 work was begun on a new waterworks plant, to include a modern pumping station and a virtually new filtration system. This modern plant was completed and placed in operation in November, 1916, provision being made in connection with this work for softening the water before turning it into the city mains through the medium of lime, intended to precipitate iron from the water. Even this system has not been continuously successful as the city has expanded and the amount of foreign matter introduced in the river has increased. Various "softening" methods have been used but the water is still far from "soft."
The present filtration and waterworks system comprises a mechanical sand filtration plant of 30,000,000 gallons capacity daily; pumping station equipment with a capacity of 31,500,000 gallons capacity daily; 206 miles of cast iron distributing mains ; 2,091 fire hydrants; two standpipes of 528,000 gallons capacity each and one of 3,000,000 gallons capacity. The valuation of the system is approximately $2,500,000.
Milton Reservoir
The Milton Reservoir was designed as an industrial water supply for Youngstown, the great demands made upon the river for water having seriously imperiled the future of the city as a manufacturing center as the stream was drawn upon almost to the exhaustion supply during the summer months. Proposed as early as 1906, the original plan provided for a reservoir to be built in Berlin Township. Interference of private interests caused a further survey of the river valley to be made, and the Milton basin was selected as a more favorable site for the proposed lake,, although the greater part of the land needed in Berlin Township had been purchased and is still municipally-owned.
It was 1911 before any appreciable progress was made, but within two years all the necessary land had been obtained and in December, x 19i3> the contract for the great dam to impound the water was let to Louis Adavasio of Youngstown. Work was started in the spring of 1914, but proceeded slowly and it was late in 1916 before the dam was completed and the filling of the reservoir begun. The first relief given the industries was in the summer of 1917.
The dam is located in Milton Township, a little more than a half mile south of the Trumbull County line and is 2,800 feet long, spanning the river valley at a comparatively wide point. The reservoir is about six miles in length, varying in width from more than a mile to a few hundred yards. It covers approximately 1,700 acres and impounds 10,000,000,000 gallons of water, sufficient to maintain a flow of 90,000,000 gallons a day in the lower river during the dry months. The lake is seventeen miles from Youngstown by a direct line, although twice that distance away by the river route. The cost of this improvement was $1,250,000.

1962 "Youngstown," from Public Water Supplies of the 100 Largest Cities in the United States, 1962, US Geological Survey Water Supply Paper 1812, by Charles Norman Durfor and Edith Becker

2011 Youngstown City Water Works, Historic American Engineering Record, HAER No. OH-118

© 2019 Morris A. Pierce