Documentary History of American Water-works

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South Atlantic States
South Carolina Columbia

Columbia, South Carolina

Columbia was chartered as a town in 1805 and as a city in 1854.

The first waterworks were built by Colonel Abram Blanding who paid the entire cost of $75,000.  The system began service in April 1821 using a 12 horsepower steam engine manufactured by James Bowman and William Galloway of Manchester, England to pump water to a circular reservoir on Taylor's Hill (later Arsenal Hill), from which it was distributed through cast iron and lead pipes.

The City of Columbia bought the system in 1835 from Blanding for $24,000 in town stock paying five percent interest, but the city never redeemed the stock.  The city built a new system in 1856 with a larger reservoir on Arsenal Hill and a new steam-powered pumping station on the lot between Williams, Laurel, and Richland streets.  The original springs were piped to the new plant location, where other springs were also utilized.  The 1856 plant and reservoir are shown below:

Bird's Eye View of the City of Columbia, South Carolina (1872)

Samuel A. Pearce, Jr.  and William Sprague bought the Columbia Canal from the State of South Carolina in January 1869 for $200. Both men were from Rhode Island, and Sprague had been Governor of Rhode Island from 1860 to 1863, and was U.S. Senator from 1863 to 1875. In August, 1870, the City of Columbia entered into a twenty-year contract with them to supply up to 1.5 million gallons of water per day to the City's water works reservoir from a new water-driven pumping plant.   The following year they and Sprague's brother Amosa formed the Columbia Water Power Company and assigned the water supply contract to that firm.  The Water Power Company met the deadline for supplying water, but the City decided not to receive it and the Company obtained an injunction forcing the City to do so.  The City lost the subsequent court case (which provides substantial detail about the workings of the water works system), but Sprague went bankrupt in late 1873 and the Water Power Company was declared to be in default by the South Carolina legislature in 1878. 

The city built a new plant in 1885, but it was destroyed by floods the following May and the rebuilt plant was destroyed by a steam engine explosion the following July.  The 1856 plant was returned to service during these periods.

A new plant was built in 1907.

The waterworks are owned by the City of Columbia.

1818 An act to enable the Intendant and Wardens of the town of Columbia, to borrow money for the purpose of supplying the said town with water, and for other purposes therein mentioned. December 18, 1818.

1820 Charleston Courier, December 20, 1820, Page 2.
Columbia, Dec. 15.  On Wednesday morning last, the Steam engine, put up by Col. Blanding for the purpose of supplying the town of Columbia with water, was set in operation before a large number of the citizens and members of the Legislature.  The pipe to the lower basin was not complete, and of course the water would not be propelled from the machine to the upper basin.  But as far as could be judged from the operation of the machine alone it gave universal approbation.  A cleaner working piece of machinery perhaps is not in the United States.  It appeared more like the movement of a celestial system than a human invention, to see the complicated machinery in active motion, with a balance-wheel of sixty hundred eight, without the least noise or jar.

1821 Camden Gazette (Camden, South Carolina), April 12, 1821, page 2.
Columbia Water Works.--We had the pleasure on Friday last of seeing these works put into full operation.  Every part of the machinery worked in the most perfect manner; and the pure spring water of the valley with great apparent ease and regularity flowed into the reservoir, which has a perpendicular elevation above the lower basin of 116 feet and above the common level of the town of 35 feet.  The distance on an inclined plane from the basin where the water is collected to the summit of discharge is 900 feet, and is laid down with iron pipes of eight inches interior diameter.  The forcing pumps makes 54 strokes in a minute when the steam engine is at ordinary speed, and discharge 10,000 gallons of water into the town in one hour.  The beauty of the machinery and the permanent construction of the work is not to be excelled by any similar establishment in the United States.  The greatest credit is due to the manufacturers, Messrs. Galloway and Bowman of Manchester, England, and to Mr. Johnson the engineer, whose ingenuity and attention to the erection of this beautiful establishment cannot be too highly extolled.  Col. Blanding could not have put this work into more faithful hands.  The whole of Richardson street, from the state house to Upper Boundary street, has been laid down with cast iron pipes.  The extent of pipes laid down is a little more than one mile and a quarter; affording a supply of water to more than half of the population of the place.  We understand, by his charter, Col. Blanding has two years to lay down the other streets.  Some of the pipes we perceive are now on the spot, and we may reasonably expect that all our citizens may soon be supplied with water, conducted through iron, which; it is understood, never gives an unpleasant taste or deleterous quality to the water.  The springs in the valley furnish an abundant supply for a population three times as large as Columbia now contains.  The water is pure, cool and delicious issuing through sand from the bottom of a range of hills rising more than 100 feet above the point of their discharge.  Whether we regard the health and comfort of our citizens, or the security of the town from fire, this establishment cannot but be considered as of the utmost importance to Columbia.

1823 Southern Patriot (Charleston, South Carolina), August 22, 1823, Page 2.
Columbia (s. c.) August 19.  The Columbia Water Works have been completed by Col. Blanding, according to his charter, by the extention of the main Pipes through the town in every part required by his stipulations with the council. The whole extent of pipe thus laid down, is l7654 feet, all of cast iron; beginning at the Basin, nine miles [inches?] diameter, and ending at the extreme parts of the town, with two inches. It thus reaches about three miles and a half, conveying water to forty six squares on which the town is principally built. The water that supplies this establishment, is collected in a valley about 800 feet to the west of the main street, from pure springs. The basin in which it is thus collected is sunk about 14 feet below the surface and is enclosed with a wall of stone four feet thick.  This is covered in, so as to exclude filth and heat. This basin contains 40,000 gallons, and when the engine is not pumping, the water which is received from the spring through a trunk that enters the bottom, is passing off over the top of the walls. These springs were ascertained by accurate measurements made in the year of 1818 and 1819, to supply more than 80,000 gallons in twenty four hours. And there are springs in the valley, which have not been yet turned into the union.  From the bottom of the collecting basin to the top of the wall of the summit or d1stributing basin, there is 120 feet elevation in a distance of 900 feet. The distributing basin is on a hill about 500 feet west of the principal street, and has a genera1 elevation above the town of 25 feet, so that every house in the place can be supplied with water from it, in the second and some in the third story.  This basin is a perfect circle of brick, 76 feet diameter, and nine feet deep below the surface of the earth. It is protected by a conical cover, that excludes heat and dust, but at the same time is well ventilated.  It contains 250,000 gallons, and when full, will supply the present population of the town for ten days, without being replenished.  In the main pipes there 44 fire plugs, so that each corner of the squares that are watered has a supply for extinguishing fires.  These plugs are 2 7-8 inches diameter, and suited to the hoes of the fire engineers. Every house within the watered limits, thus has a supply for extinguishing fire within 250 feet of it, and on the main street, within 125 feet.
The pumping establishment is worked by a steam engine of twelve horse power of the most beautiful construction and workmanship, which in two and a half hours supplies the present consumption of the place, for 24 hours, and consumes about one third of a cord of wood. There are one extra boiler and duplicates of all parts of the machinery that are subject to break, so that in case of accident the necessary repairs can be made long before the water in the distributing basin is consumed. The surplus power of the engine drives two pair of mill stones ; one for corn and the other for wheat. The merchant mill is of a very superior construction, having all the facilities of the most approved work of the kind. The surplus warm water from the condensing cistern of the engine, is conveyed to a neat bathing house, which is also supplied with cold water, and affords a bathing establishment of vast use to the comfort and health of the town.
These works have been erected by the funds of an individual, who has received no other aid than the sum of 5,000 dollars from the state legislature in consideration of which he is bound to supply all the public buildings with water free of charge.  Already the Court House, Jail, and State House, are supplied. The College, Male and Female Academics and the Lunatic Asylum, are entitled to the same privilege, but the expence of service pipe, by contract is not a charge on the proprietor of the works.
The town pays $500 a year for the use of water, to extinguish fire and the ordinary charge to a family is 20 a year.  It is understood that the profit of this establishment do not as yet produce more than four per cent on the capital expences.  But we are induced to believe that the increasing population of the town and the liberal encouragement of our citizens will soon make it a valuable stock. --The comforts afforded by it, are every day more extensively felt: and whether we regard the security which this work presents against fire, the health promoted by its introducing a general practice of bathing, or the convenience it affords for every household purpose, this undertaking, superior, we believe, to any which individual enterprise has effected in the United States, must be considered as of incalculable value to our town. The only circumstance which subtracts from its universal utility is that the pipes being sunk about four feet below the surface, are affected by the heat of our summers and the water is too warm for pleasant drinking, although it is perfectly pure, and in other respects equal to the best spring water. We understand that the proprietor is about attempting an experiment to remedy this defect, and to deliver perfectly cool water for drinking. We understand his plan and think it will succeed.
The talents and enterprise of this gentleman we are in hopes, will yet meet the reward they deserve.- Telescope.

1825 "Pure Water," The New England Farmer 3:221 (February 4, 1825)
The Columbia (S. C.) Water Works, which have not been cleaned out for three years, were drawn off on the 1st inst. and only half an inch of sediment found in the bottom.  During the above period upwards of 50 millions of gallons of water have been thrown into the reservoir, and distributed through the town.

1825 "Journal of a Visit to Greenville from Charleston in the Summer of 1825 (Continued)," by Caroline Olivia Laurens and Mrs. Louise C. King, The South Carolina Historical Magazine 72(3):164-173 (July, 1971)
Page 165:  May 28, 1825.  About sunset we walked as far as Taylor's hill, the prospect from it was beautiful. A few yds. from the bottom of the hill was situated the steam engine for raising water to a large basin which was on the top of it, from whence it is conducted by means of leaden pipes to most of the yards in the town.

1826 Statistics of South Carolina: Including a View of Its Natural, Civil, and Military History, General and Particular, by Robert Mills
Page 383:  It behooves us to be careful of our wood lands, for we have no coal to substitute for fuel when the timber is gone.
Page 706:  Columbia is amply supplied with spring water, which is forced up by a steam power 120 feet, from springs issuing from a valley between the town and river. It is distributed through the principal streets in cast-iron pipes, and then conveyed to families from these main conduits, in leaden pipes. This is the work of our enterprising citizen, Col. Abraham Blanding. The steam engine is on Watt and Balton's plan, and was constructed by Messrs. Galloway and Bowman, of Manchester, England. It is of beautiful construction, and works with great ease and effect. The surplus power is applied to the grinding of wheat and Indian corn.
Contiguous to the engine house are public baths, supplied with both hot and cold water from the engine. On thc other side of the valley is another bathing establishment, fed by a natural spring, rising near by. These baths prove a great luxury to the inhabitants, many of whom make use of them.

1827 South Carolina State Gazette, August 25, 1827, Page 2.
The Town Council will oblige many of the citizens by having the public wells put in order, or by making some arrangement with the proprietor of the Water Works, by which some notice may be given previous to the stopping of the water, which has been stopped this day, (and this not the only time by many,) six hours without any notice being given.  It should be remembered, that those who have subscribed to this valuable work, have filled up their private well, and that they are bound in their contract with the owner of the Water Works, not to permit their neighbors to take water from the spouts; and when the water is stopped, we are obliged to go to those neighbors whom we have refused a pail of water, and beg them to supply us.  This is the situation in which we are placed, when we cannot be supplied at the public wells--which is the case at all times, except in the summer months, and the time has arrived when even those months are neglected.  Would not a few stop-cocks on the main street, remedy all the evil?  A Citizen.  August 23.

1828 City Gazette (Charleston, South Carolina) May 2, 1828, page 2.
The Water Works of Columbia were begun in 1818, and finished in 1821. The water is collected from pure springs in a valley within the limits of the town, which is about ninety feet lower than the platform on which that beautiful place is built; these springs are conducted under ground to a reservoir in the centre of the valley; which is walled with granite and covered with a wooden roof; its capacity is 60,000 gallons. The springs now turned into it, fill it twice in twenty four hours; and should the town require it, the supply may he doubled from other springs in the same valley, which are not now used.  By means of a twelve horse steam engine, the water is forced into the summit reservoir, elevated 120 feet above the valley, and about 50 feet above the general level of the town. This reservoir holds 250,000 gallons; it is a circle ninety feet in diameter and ten feet deep, enclosed with brick and covered with a wooden dome. From it, the water is conducted into every part o£ the town; this requires about twelve miles of metallic pipes, one half of which are cast iron for main, and the other half of lead, for service pipe; no wooden pipes have been used. The plans and execution of this work have been so perfect, that in seven years, during which time it has been in operation, the town has never been a day without water, and the repairs of the whole establishment have cost less than one hundred dollars a year. This work has been constructed by the funds of a single individual, and has cost about $55,000.

1835 Charleston Courier, July 8, 1835, page 3.
Wanted, a Scientific and Practical Engineer, to take charge of and conduct the Columbia Water Works, lately purchased by the Corporation of the town from Col. A. Blanding.  He will be required to produce with his application, property certificates of character and capability, and will be expected to give his whole time and attention to the employment.
The salary agreed upon will be paid Quarterly, and as it will be expected of him to live on the premises, a comfortable House with all necessary out buildings will be furnished him.
Applications stating the terms of the applicant, to be addressed to M. H. De Leon, Intendant of Columbia, Columbia, June 27.

1850 Map of Columbia from an accurate survey by Messrs. Arthur and Moore, about 1850. | also here |
This map shows the site of the water works in Sidney Park, including the engine house and the lot owned by the Town Council between Laurel and Richland that was probably the site of the first reservoir.

1853 "The Palmetto Armory," The Southern Agriculturalist :50 (February, 1853)
Page 50:  The main building of the Armory, on the South front, is three stories high, and 64 feet long, to which is attached a one story extension of 90 feet, giving a  total length of 154 feet; and being located on Arsenal Hill, immediately crowning the valley in which is situated the City Water Works.

1855 An act to aid the city of Columbia in the construction of new water works, and for other purposes. December 19, 1855

1858 "Mary Blanding, Executrix vs. The Corporation of Columbia," Reports of Cases at Law and in Equity: Argued and Determined in the Court of Appeals and Court of Errors of South Carolina

1859 "Balloon Ascension," Charleston Courier, October 15, 1859, Page 1.
The canvas was stretched on Arsenal Hill, back of the reservoir or new water works.

1859 Biographical Sketches of the Bench and Bar of South Carolina, Volume 2 by John Belton O'Neall
Page 236-244:  Abram Blanding

1863 "Correspondence of the Fayetteville Observer," Fayetteville Semi-Weekly Observer (Fayetteville, North Carolina), March 19, 1863, Page 3. | part 2 |
Columbia, S. C., March 14.  The city is supplied with water from two excellent springs near the river.  The water is forced by a steam engine into a large Reservoir on the Arsenal Hill -- the summit point of the city, and thence by pipes throughout the place -- the expense per family is very small.  Fire-plugs are at every street-crossing.  I noticed fountains in several of the private gardens -- shedding their pearly spray around and creating a most delicious coolness.  The whole enterprise is a credit to the citizens of the city.

1865 "The Water Works," The Daily Phoenix (Columbia, South Carolina), June 28, 1865, Page 2.
It was whispered to us, a few days ago, that the Columbia Water Works were threatened with an abrupt stoppage of the water supply to the city, in consequence of the lack of fuel and other menus to carry on the usual operations. We are happy to assure our informant, on the authority of the Mayor that all this danger has passed; that fuel has been supplied, or will be supplied, under proper contracts, and that the present condition of the works exhibit equal performance and promise, giving us a guaranty of their continued supply and usefulness in any emergency. Still, citizens will do wisely to look to the condition of their wells and cisterns, especially after the late heavy rains.

1867 "A Visit to Columbia," Charleston Daily News, January 7, 1867, Page 5.
Water Works.

1868 "To Wood Contractors," The Daily Phoenix (Columbia, South Carolina), December 19, 1868, Page 2.
Proposals for furnishing the City Water Works with 500 Cords best Long Leaf Pine Wood.  The contractor will be required to deliver 70 Cords per month.

1870 The Daily Phoenix (Columbia, South Carolina), August 25, 1870, Page 2
ARTICLES OF AGREEMENT, Made this twenty third day of August, A. D. 1870, by and between the City of Columbia, in the State of South Carolina, of the first part, and Samuel A. Pearce, Jr., of the said city, both for himself and as Trustee of William Sprague, of the State of Rhode Island, their heirs, executors and assigns, of the second part.

1872 "The Columbia Water-Works," The Charleston Daily News, July 23, 1872, Page 1.
[From the Columbia Union.] A trip to where the work bas been progressing upon the Columbia water-works, discloses the fact that for a little stir much has been done. On the river bank, this side Geiger's mill, have been erected pretty and substantial buildings, required for the machinery, offices, &c; a turbine wheel bas been put in position, substantial masonry built, piers, supports, baius, &c, &c., one of the basins contains three hundred thousand gallons. Two lines of twelve-inch iron pipe are being rapidly laid, and the whole surroundings denote Industry aud enterprise. A large force ls required to do ail thia and the engineers, Major Mahan and Mr. Lowe, tbe latter a namesake of Colonel Lowe of the Blue Ridge Railroad, with their overseers, are on the spot constantly. At the foundry of Major Alexander the pipe ls being made now, and is nearly completed. Here, under the direction of one of Colonel Pearce's men, every section ls tested by a pressure of three hundred pounds to the inch. Tbe least little vent of spray causes the piece to be thrown aside, and many a fine looking section is thrown out. The whole business at tbe works and the canal is interesting, and worth the ride out there to see.

1872 Bird's Eye View of the City of Columbia, South Carolina
Shows City Water Works (12) at southwest corner of Williams and Richmond, and City Reservoir (13) on Gates between Richland and Laurel

1873 "City Water," The Daily Phoenix (Columbia, South Carolina), June 27, 1873, Page 2.
The head spring that gushes forth its waters in Sidney Park is still at work. This was the first water used in the city. Tbe steam engine then used for the purpose of throwing this water up into the old reservoir was in tho park; the basin on the hill in front of Colonel Alexander Taylor's residence. In after years it was deemed necessary to enlarge the works. At this time the present distributing and receiving reservoirs were built; also,.a mach larger engine purchased. This was the first fatal mistake of oar city fathers. For at that time they ought to have erected water power instead of steam, and it would havo been famished to the city for that purpose for a trifle by the State in 1354. The engine party carried the day, and the works were placed in the steam mill lot, where they have always done good work, by supplying the city with pure water and plenty of it. The water in Sidney Park was economised and ran down to the basin in iron pipes; besides which the waters from several springs were conveyed to the same spot. Among them Rogers' spring, situated in the ravine near Messrs. Kind & Goldsmith's City Foundry, a bold gashing spring, if carefully hoarded, would supply half of tho city itself. With this bountiful supply, water was abundant for all city purposes at all seasons of the year. Tho hardest trial the works were ever subjected to,-was during the war. The city at that time was computed to contain about 20,000 inhabitants, eighteen stationary engines, large manufactories for the making of money, &c., one in particular, with two large fountains constantly playing night and day, in order to have a moist atmosphere; a Government distillery and laboratory, all of which were supplied from the City Water Works with pure spring water, and plenty of it.

1873 Columbia Water Power Company v. City of Columbia, 5 SC 225, South Carolina Supreme Court, November, 1873

1882 An act to authorize the canal commission to transfer and deliver to the board of directors of the South Carolina Penitentiary the property known as the Columbia Canal, with the lands held therewith and its appurtenances, and to develop the same.  February 9, 1882.
Sec 6. That the said Board of Directors are authorized to furnish to the city of Columbia, for the purpose of operating its water works and other purposes, five hundred horse power of water power.

1882 An act to provide for the payment of water used in the Public Institutions of the State Located in Columbia.  February 9, 1882.

1884 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Columbia, Richland County, South Carolina. February, 1884

1884 Random recollections of a long life, 1806-1876, by Edwin J Scott
Pages 69-70:  Colonel Blanding, a Northern man by birth, married a daughter of Chancellor DeSaussure, and removed to this place from Camden. Though never mingling in politics, he was one of the most useful, enterprising and public-spirited citizens that ever lived in the State. As Superintendent of Public Works, he projected the opening of the Columbia Canal and similar improvements on the Broad and Catawba Rivers, as well as the State Road from Columbia to Charleston, which was of great service in facilitating intercourse between those places. He was the first President of the Commercial Bank of Columbia, and of the South-Western Railroad Bank in Charleston, the latter being intended to aid the so-called Charleston and Cincinnati Railroad, in which scheme he took an active and conspicuous part, but in his time the road never extended beyond Columbia. He also, with David Ewart, originated the Saluda Factory, the largest cotton manufacturing establishment then in the State. Of his own accord, and at his own expense, he established our water works, obtaining from the Legislature the passage of an Act authorizing the City Council to contract with him for their erection; and importing from England the engine, machinery and pipes for conveying water through our streets and supplying it to private houses and to the State institutions in the town, at a time when such a project was almost or quite unknown in the South. Under this contract the city conveyed to him that portion of Washington and Lady streets lying East of Pickens, with the square between them, extending to and including Henderson street from Washington to Lady, and the length of one acre beyond, which thus became private property. Before his removal to Charleston, in 1838, he sold the water works to the city authorities at, I think, less than they had cost him, (some $15,000,) on the condition that the principal should run for an indefinite period, provided the interest was paid quarterly or semiannually.

1886 "The Raging Rivers," The Times and Democrat (Orangeburg, South Carolina), May 27, 1886, Page 1.
Disastrous Effects of the Flood in the State.  Columbia's New Water-Works Completely Demolished.

1886 "The Columbia Water Works Blown to Atoms," The Intelligencer (Anderson, South Carolina), July 29, 1886, Page 2.

1888 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Columbia, Richland County, South Carolina. March, 1888

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

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

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

1893 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Columbia, Richland County, South Carolina. July, 1893

1896 "Jewell Filter Plant in Columbia, S.C.." Engineering News, 35:356 (May 28, 1896)

1897 "Columbia," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 4

1898 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Columbia, Richland County, South Carolina. April, 1898.

1904 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Columbia, Richland County, South Carolina. August, 1904.

1907 "Columbia Water Supply," Journal of the South Carolina Medical Association, 2:503 (January 1907)

1910 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Columbia, Richland County, South Carolina. April, 1910.

1911 "Columbia Water Works," by John McNeal, from Municipal Journal & Public Works, 30(6):191-193 (February 8, 1911)

1919 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Columbia, Richland County, South Carolina.

1950 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Columbia, Richland County, South Carolina, Volume 1. May 1950 | Volume 1a  |

1956 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Columbia, Richland County, South Carolina, Volume 1. | Volume 1a  |

1993 Columbia and Richland County: A South Carolina Community, 1740-1990, by John Hammond Moore
Page 87:  The town water system.  This remarkable facility, the creation of Abraham Blanding, associate of Mills in the promotion of canals, gave Columbia one of the nation's most advanced schemes for the distribution of water to homes, businesses, and public buildings.  In 1819, the town fathers concluded a contract with Blanding that required him to have functioning pipes in the central part of the community within two years and complete the project in four.  By December 1820, Blanding had purchased an English-made, twelve-horse-power steam engine that the Columbia Telescope thought was "more like the movement of a celestial system than a human invention."  Located at the base of Taylor's Hill, it was capable of pumping water from a lower reservoir to a much larger one at the crest of that elevation (now known as Arsenal Hill), the highest point in town.  From there water was distributed underground by cast-iron and lead pipes.  The entire system cost about $55,000, and until 1835–when Blanding sold out to the city–he was permitted to charge any rate he wishes so long as his annual revenue did not exceed 14 percent of th original investment.  Blanding, a shrewd businessman, was able to use excess steam power to run two mills grinding wheat and corn, and contiguous to his engine house were public baths that, in the words of Robert Mills, "prove a great luxury to the inhabitants, many of whom make use of them."

2003 Columbia: History of a Southern Capital, by Lynn Salsi
Page 36:  Blanding was aware that the citizens relied on wells for their water.  In 1820, he personally financed the $75,000 cost to build a waterworks for the town.  Water was pumped from a spring up to a wooden tank on Taylor's Hill using a Watt-type steam engine.  He water then flowed by gravity to homes and businesses through cast iron and lead pipes.  The project did not turn out to be profitable, so Blanding sold it to the city in 1835 for $25,000.  A short time later, Walnut Street was renamed Blanding Street as a tribute to his farsightedness.
Page 123:  The city appointed a commission on waterworks in 1903 with Dr. J. W. Babcock as chairman.  The commission developed a new waterworks powered by a waterwheel to pump water from the canal for treatment.  It was completed in January 1907; parts of the original plant are still in use.  The transformers for powering the plant's high srevice pumps were installed in 1906.  Pump houses were constructed on the canal levee and used to pump up to 7 million gallons of water a day from the Broad and Saluda Rivers, seeming to provide Columbians with a limitless supply of water.  A laboratory and control building constructed in 1913 were used until the 1970s.

2015 Columbia, South Carolina: A History, by Alexia Jones Helsley
In 1820, Colonel Abram Blanding developed Columbia's first waterworks.  Blanding acquired a steam engine capable of pumping water from the base of Taylor's Hill to the eminence of Arsenal Hall.  The water plant located in Seaboard Park (Sidney Park behind the post office) pumped water from the Congaree for public facilities, hotels and fire stations in Columbia's downtown.  Blanding opened public baths at the plant and powered gristmills and flour mills with the steam.  Later, in 1835, Blanding sold the system to the City of Columbia.

2022 "'…[T]he movement of a celestial system than a human invention:' Abram Blanding and bringing water to Columbia," by Allen Driggers, Water History (January 2022)

Thanks to Allen Driggers for providing several additional references that are included above.

© 2016 Morris A. Pierce