Documentary History of American Water-works

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Middle Atlantic States Pennsylvania Scranton

Scranton, Pennsylvania

Scranton was incorporated as a borough in 1856 and as a city in 1866.

The Scranton Gas and Water Company was incorporated in 1854 by Benjamin H. Throop, Joseph H. Scranton, John D. Mead, Edward C. Fuller, and James McKinney "for making, raising and introducing into the village of Scranton, Luzerne county, a sufficient supply of gas and pure water." This company built a system that in 1858 starting pumping water with a steam engine from the Lackawanna River into an elevated reservoir, but pollution of the river forced the company to move the source to elevated springs feeding a reservoir in 1866.

The Providence Gas and Water Company was incorporated in 1867 by Henry B Rockwell, Edward W. Weston, Pulaski Carter, Horatio A. Allen, and William Silkman of the city of Scranton "to furnish to any person, or persons, and corporations, within any portion of the city of Scranton which they may see fit, with gas light and water."  This company built a gravity works using water from elevated springs.

The Scranton Gas and Water Company purchased the Providence Gas and Water Company in 1900, and later purchased several other nearby water systems.  The city made several efforts to acquire the system, but were unsuccessful.

In September, 1927, the interests of the Spring-Brook Water Company were purchased by the Federal Water Service Corporation, and in March, 1928, upon the acquisition of the Scranton Gas and Water Company by the same corporation, the Scranton and Spring-Brook Water Companies were consolidated under the name of Scranton-Spring Brook Water Service Co.   The Federal Water Service Corporation was held to be in violation of the Public Utilities Company Holding Act by the Securities and Exchange Commission and ordered to dispose of its various holdings.  This ruling was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1947 and ownership of the Scranton-Spring Brook Water Company passed to local capitalists, who renamed the company Pennsylvania Gas and Water Company on October 1, 1960.

The Pennsylvania-American Water Company, a subsidiary of American Water Works Company, Inc., acquired the regulated water assets of the Pennsylvania Gas and Water Company on February 16, 1996 for $409 million.

Water service is provided by Pennsylvania American Water.


References
1854 An act to incorporate the Scranton Gas and Water Company.  March 16, 1854.

1854 A supplement to the act to incorporate the Scranton Gas and Water Company.  April 26, 1854.

1858 A supplement to an act incorporating the Scranton Gas and Water Company, approved March sixteenth, one thousand eight hundred and fifty-four.  February 26, 1858.

1859 The Scranton Directory for 1859-'60
Pages 64:  Scranton Gas and Water Company

1860 Annals of Luzerne County: A Record of Interesting Events, Traditions, and Anecdotes, by Stewart Pearce
Page 222: The town is supplied with water from the Lackawanna, being up by steam-power into a reservoir, and thence distributed in pipes through the borough.  The capital of the company which erected the gas and water works is $100,000.

1861 A supplement to an act incorporating the Scranton Gas and Water Company, approved the sixteenth day of March, one thousand eight hundred and fifty-four.  March 21, 1861.

1862 Littell versus The Scranton Gas and Water Company, 42 Pa. 500, May 10, 1862, Supreme Court of Pennsylvania

1866 A supplement to an act incorporating the Scranton Gas and Water Company, approved March sixteenth, one thousand eight hundred and fifty-four.  April 12, 1866.

1867 An act to incorporate the Providence Gas and Water Company, in Luzerne county.  February 23, 1867.

1867 A further supplement to an act, entitled "An act to incorporate the Scranton Gas and Water Company," approved March sixteenth, one thousand eight hundred and fifty-four.  April 9, 1867.

1871 A supplement to an act incorporating the Scranton Gas and Water Company, approved March sixteenth, one thousand eight hundred and fifty-four.  May 18, 1871.

1880 "Gas and Water Companies," History of Luzerne, Lackawanna, and Wyoming Counties, Pa

1882 Scranton, from Engineering News, 9:106 (April 1, 1882)

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

1885 History of the Lackawanna Valley by Horace Hollister

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

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

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

1891 "The Scranton Gas and Water Company," History of Scranton, Penn: With Full Outline of the Natural Advantages, Accounts of the Indian Tribes, Early Settlements, Connecticut's Claim to the Wyoming Valley, the Trenton Decree, Down to the Present Time, by David Craft

1895 A Half Century in Scranton, by Benjamin Henry Throop
Page 308:  The water in the Lackawanna River had not at that time become polluted with the mine water from the various shafts and slopes which have since been located upon it, and converted it into a sewer, and this was deemed the most available source of supply. A pump house was erected on the banks of the stream, in Pine Brook, near where the street car line now crosses the river, and the reservoir on the corner of Madison Avenue and Olive Street, lately purchased by the First Presbyterian Church as a site for their new edifice, was constructed. At this time it was above any residence in the city, and gave an abundant supply. The demand for water increased, however, as did also that for gas, and in 1858, the capital stock was authorized to be increased to $100,000. In 1861, Hyde Park and Providence were included in the territory for which the franchise was granted, and the stock has since been largely increased.

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

1900 "Water Company Sold," The Scranton Republican, March 26, 1900, Page 5.
Biggest Deal in the History of the City of Scranton.  Purchase Money $650,000.  Providence Gas and Water Company Absorbed by the Scranton Company.

1903 "Scranton Seeking City Water Works," The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 20, 1903, Page 7.

1906 Scranton Gas and Water Company, Appellant. v. Scranton City, 214 Pa. 586, February 19, 1906, Supreme Court of Pennsylvania

1912 "Syndicate Wants Scranton Utilities," The New York Times, February 17, 1912, Page 15.

1914 History of Scranton and Its People, Volume 1, by Frederick Lyman Hitchcock
Page 96:  The Scranton Gas and Water Company, organized in 1854 with a capital of $100,000—then regarded as a very doubtful venture, the stock being taken mostly pro bono publico—because it was realized that the new borough must have water.  Even so they proceeded to prepare along what was supposed to be very bountiful lines for the future. The large water main on Lackawanna avenue was six-inch, and a distributing reservoir was built, occupying part of a square on the hill where the Presbyterian church now stands, into which water was pumped from the Lackawanna, having a capacity of 1,000,000 gallons, and from its one main on Lackawanna avenue there was force enough to enable the new fire company to throw a stream of water over any of the houses then built—the Wyoming House, three stories, being the highest. This, it was then thought, was looking far enough into the future.  But it was not. It was scarcely a beginning. In fact the company was "put to its stumps" to keep pace with the demands of the increasing population, until the same company has now an investment upwards of $10,000,000 in its water sheds and distributing plant for the city's use, embracing twenty-three reservoirs with an aggregate capacity of 7,000,000,000 gallons. Its supply mains which bisect the city are six times the diameter of the one supply main first laid, viz., thirty-six inches. This is one illustration of our growth in three-score years.

1928 "Federal Firm Buys Scranton G. & Water Co.," The Scranton Republican, January 10, 1928, Page 3. | Part 2 |

1957 "The Water Supply," History and Geography of Scranton and its Vicinity, by Elizabeth H. Williams

1969 "The Early Development of Scranton's Water Supply," The Lackawanna Historical Society Bulletin 4(1):1 (November-December 1969)

1980 "Like Fathers, Unlike Sons: the fall of the business elite in Scranton, Pennsylvania, 1880-1920," by Burton W. Folsom, Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies 47(4):291-309 (October 1980)

1991 The Myth of the Robber Barons: A New Look at the Rise of Big Business in America, by Burton W. Folsom.
Page 58:  Scranton Gas and Water Company.  William Scranton and his son, Worthington, ran this company profitably and, in 1928, Worthington sold it for $25 million.







© 2017 Morris A. Pierce