Documentary History of American Water-works

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Middle Atlantic States Pennsylvania Nazareth

Nazareth, Pennsylvania

Nazareth in Northampton County was founded in 1740 by Moravian immigrants,

The nearby Moravian community of Bethlehem built water works in 1754, which are widely known.  The first water system in Nazareth was built in 1773 by "Brothers Christensen and Bischof" from Bethlehem.  Christensen may have been Hans Christian Christiansen, who built the earlier system in Bethlehem.  The Nazareth records contain several references to the building and maintenance of the water works.  A 1799 letter describing the systems in both towns mentions that Nazareth used white oak for water pipes that "have lasted 20 years."  An 1843 register of Moravian marriages lists Solomon Schaeffer as "director of the Nazareth Water Works."  A new reservoir was built in 1859 and water was distributed by iron pipes.

The Nazareth Water Company was incorporated in 1870 with Joseph Keller, C. F. Hartman, E. C. Beitel, J. H. Beck and Edmund Ricksecker appointed commissioners to establish the company, which was authorized to "lease, purchase or acquire the water works now in operation in the said borough of Nazareth."

The Nazareth Water Company merged into the Blue Mountain Consolidated Water Company on December 9, 1902.  This company was in turn merged into the current owner around 1986

Water is currently provided by Pennsylvania American Water Company.

1771-1773 Translations of excerpts from the diary of the Moravian congregation at Nazareth, 1740 1871
January 18, 1771 - There also, in the preliminary conferences, should be considered and weighed the matter with the water, how far it has to be brought into the village.
April 13, 1773 - At the same time one had made the beginning with the laying of the pipes from the water-conduit in the Gemeinort.
May 7, 1773 - In the forenoon we saw with joy and thankfulness, that the water, which was led to the Square of the new Gemeinort, ran from the sample 7 feet high.
May 19, 1773 - In the afternoon went the brethren Christensen and Bischof, after they had worked since Easter here on the water-works and had finished it to-day, back to Bethlehem.

1799 Philadelphia Gazette, March 25, 1799, page 3.
Extract of a letter from a gentleman of intelligence and information in Bethlehem, to his correspondent in this city, dated February 1.
"With pleasure I answer your's--I have several times read Mr. Latrobe's Report, concerning the supplying the city of Philadelphia with water.  My wish is, that is may be adopted without hestitation or delay.  In no part do I think it impracticable.  It appears the only advisable method of effecting it to the purpose required.  I also perceive the clashing it occasions with the proprietors of the Canal; but interest on such occasions, and in matters of such great moment, ought not to raise its head.  As to pipes, we have had the yellow and pitch pine.  Good pitch or yellow pine pipes have lasted 30 years, 2 1/2 inch bore.  No inconvenience with regard to the taste, and indeed our water was better and cooler than we have it at present through leaden pipes.  Here, it is to be observed, that a tree for a 4 inch bore should have 12 inches grain (heart) to leave 4 inches wood.  The sap will not last 2 years--the 12 inches must be at the thin end.  The next best is white oak; in Nazareth the pipes are all white oak, the water excellent, no taste of the wood, and have lasted 20 years.  When our water works were first erected we have pine pipes from the machinery to the reservoir.  The pine was very troublesome--we have to put many rings round the pipes, and yet we could not make them tight--the weight of the water, &c. would burst them.  We then used gum, a wood that will not splilt, but will last only about 12 years--yields no taste to the water.  If good yellow pine of the size mentioned in the gain of the smallest end (but straight it must be by all means, otherwise the hole will come too near the sap and will not last at all) it ought to be preferred to any other: but if it is not of this description, and every stick alike, white oak is preferable; for only one piece is bad in an extent of a compressed water course, the while is useless until that spot is repailed.  Mr. Henry, to whome I shewed your letter, gives the preference to white oak.  I wish good success to the undertaking, and anything required of me, will always be communicated with pleasure."

1843 Register of Marriages, from Bethlehem Digital History Project
Sep. 7 SCHAEFER, Solomon (second marriage). b Sep. 3, 1812 in.Lehigh twp., a s. of Daniel and Maria, mn. Kratzer; a saddler; contractor; proprietor of sash factory burgess; director of the Nazareth Water Works; d Mar. 28, 1881 in Nazareth. He m. first, May 19,1835, Wilhelmina Adelaide Giersch , who d Feb. 19, 1842 in Nazareth.

1870 An act to incorporate the Nazareth Water Company.  March 31, 1870.

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

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

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

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

1920 History of Northampton County [Pennsylvania] and The Grand Valley of the Lehigh, Volume 2, under supervision and revision of William J. Heller.
Page 514:  In the latter part of the eighteenth century water for public use was introduced from several contiguous springs, brought to the consumers by a main pipe.  A reservoir was built in 1859 just west of the Evergreen Cemetery,  and the waters of John's spring some distance beyond was by iron pipes distributed through the greater part of the village. The Nazareth Water Company was chartered in 1870. The first hand fire engine was introduced  in 1790, and a second one about 1820. At different times various fire organizations existed, but at the time of the incorporation of the borough there was but one fire company, though both of the old engines were on hand, with a large supply of hose for attachment to the fire plugs connected with pipes leading from the reservoir.

2015 Morris A. Pierce