Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography
Middle Atlantic States Pennsylvania Lancaster

Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Lancaster was incorporated as a borough in 1734.  

In 1772 Casper Singer was granted the right to install conduits to convey water to his tannery, and this apparently led to others installing similar conduits.  The City of Lancaster was granted permission to build waterworks in 1822, which came to nought. 

The Lancaster Water Company was incorporated in 1829 with George Lewis Mayer, Robert Evans, John Longenecker, Henry Keffer, and Philip W. Reigart appointed to sell stock, but this company appears to have done nothing. 

The City of Lancaster built water works in 1836 that were designed by Frederick Erdman.  Water was introduced to the city on February 22, 1837. 

The waterworks are owned by the City of Lancaster.

1822 An act to supply the city of Lancaster with pure water.  March 18, 1822

1829 An act ... to incorporate the Lancaster Water Company, and for other purposes.  April 23, 1829

1836 A further supplement ... and to an act entitled "An act to incorporate the city of Lancaster, and for other purposes.  March 21, 1836.

1869 Water works history from An Authentic History of Lancaster County: In the State of Pennsylvania  by Jacob Isidor Mombert

1883 Water works history from History of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania: With Biographical Sketches of Many of Its Pioneers and Prominent Men by Franklin Ellis, Samuel Evans
Page 381: The first action taken by the borough authorities to secure or provide a water supply to serve as a protection against fire was upon Sept. 14, 1772. Under this date the following appears in the records of the burgesses: “it being represented that Casper Singer, of this borough, Tanner, hath lately obtained permission from from Isaac Whitelock, of the said borough, to take and lead the water of a certain spring which rises in the ground of the said Isaac Whitlock, near his Brew-House, into Water Street, to the intent that the said Casper Singer may by pipes or other proper conduits carry and convey the water thereof to building and tanyards of him, the said Casper Singer, in King Street, in the some Borough, and the same Casper Singer,  now requesting the privilege of laying pipes and conduits for the purpose aforesaid along Water Street, and to break the ground to fix them properly, and he engaging in return and satisfaction for the privilege aforesaid to have a stock or jet d‘eau fixed in such a pipe or conduit at such place as the Burgesses or Assistants of the Borough shall direct in King Street aforesaid where such pipe or conduit shall cross the said street so that the public (in cases of fire and at such other times as it shall not be injurious to the said Casper Singer to be deprived of said water) may be supplied with water from the same, and that, at his own expense, that he, his heirs and assigns, shall and will maintain and keep in good order and repair such stock or jet d'eau at his and their expense. Upon consideration had upon the premises, the privilege aforesaid of breaking the ground in the said streets, and of laying pipes, trunks or conduits in and through the streets aforesaid for taking and conveying the water is granted unto the said Casper Singer, his heirs and assigns, forever.  He and they in laying and fixing such pipes or conduits, and in keeping them in good order and repair from time to time, taking care to cover them as not to obstruct or hinder the easy and convenient passage in and through the said streets, and that expeditiously and without unnecessary delay, and he and they, from time to time, and at all times, fixing and keeping the said stock or jet d'eau in good order and repair for the use and benefit of the inhabitants of the said Borough at the time and seasons before mentioned."

1978 The Heritage of Lancaster by John Ward Willson Loose
Page 32: Casper Singer, a tanner whose yard was along Water Street, had an idea. He would lay a wooden pipe under Water Street to King Street where a jet d 'eau, a stream of water spouting upward, would be installed wherever the borough officials desired, all at his own expense, provided the borough would permit him to dig up Water Street and would not deprive him of water necessary for the tanning vats. Approval came swiftly, along with the proviso that Singer, his heirs, and assigns, keep the system in repair forever. An ordinance then was adopted to penalize anyone who would "willfully or maliciously" interfere with or destroy the system.
The success of Singer's jet d'eau prompted the borough to dig cisterns in King Street and other parts of the town for holding water in large quantities when needed for firefighting. Numerous springs that lay in the vicinity of East King and North Duke streets were connected to the cisterns, using wooden pipes, or "conduits" as the borough officials were fond of calling them. One of the larger springs was under the Sign of the Leopard Tavern, a hundred feet east of Duke Street on the north side of East King Street.

Creation of the Lancaster Water Works, by David P. Schuyler.

© 2015 Morris A. Pierce