Documentary History of American Water-works

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South Atlantic States
Virginia Leesburg

Leesburg, Virginia

Leesburg was settled in the late 1730s and was incorporated in 1813.

The Town of Leesburg had a water system by 1823, when a Town ordinance referred to existing hydrants.  The town was authorized in 1832 to conduct lottery to support Leesburg Academy and construct a water works in 1832.   The lottery was apparently successful and the water system was built, as it is mentioned in an 1835 gazetteer. 

New water systems were built in 1845 and 1906.  Iron pipes were being used by 1888.

Water is currently provided by the Town of Leesburg, which has a good history of the utility system that includes a picture of an old wooden water pipe.

1823 - Leesburg Law for the Use of Public Water from Leesburg Volunteer Fire Company History
November 28th, 1823 - The Town of Leesburg enacts the following ordinance:
"A Law Concerning Pumps and Hydrants"
Section 1 - It shall be unlawful for any person:
    To leave open any hydrants or let the water flow unnecessarily, or in waste
    To use from any of the cisterns except in case of fire or for the purpose of exercising the fire engines
    To break off any covers to the cisterns
    For each offence the fine will be not less than two nor more than ten dollars at the discretion of the Town Council
It is interesting to note that in Section 1 it states "except in case of fire or for the purpose of exercising the fire engines" . At the time this law was enacted, the fire companies of Leesburg operated at least 2 hand drawn, hand pumped fire engines. This is the earliest reference found that indicated the fire company used fire engines instead of relying solely on bucket brigades. Little else is known about the actual apparatus used in town during this time.

1832 An act authorizing the citizens of Jefferson and Loudoun to raise sums of money by lottery, for certain purposes therein mentioned.  February 16, 1832.
9. Be it further enacted, That the mayor, recorder and common council of the town of Leesburg, in the county of Loudoun, be, and they are hereby authorized to raise by lottery or lotteries, any sum of money not exceeding twenty-five thousand dollars, for the purpose of re-building or repairing the Leesburg academy, and endowing the same, and for the further purpose, with the residue of said sum, of supplying the said town with water. The said mayor, recorder and common council shall possess and enjoy the like officers. powers, shall execute a like bond, and shall be subject to the like penalties and responsibilities in performing the duties assigned them by this act, as are herein-before given to, required of, and imposed upon thecommissioners named in the first section hereof; and the contractor or contractors by them employed, to manage the said lottery or lotteries, and the superintendent or superintendents, agent or agents employed in the construction of the works, and execution of the duties aforesaid, shall respectively execute such bonds, exercise such powers, perform such duties, and be, liable to such penalties for failure therein, as are herein prescribed in relation to the lottery and road first before authorized by this act.

1835 A Comprehensive Description of Virginia and the District of Columbia: Containing a Copious Collection of Geographical, Statistical, Political, Commercial, Religious, Moral, and Miscellaneous Information, Chiefly from Original Sources, by Joseph Martin
Page 212: The streets are well paved, and the town, supplied with fine water, in pipes of wood, from a spring issuing at the base of Kittoctan mountain.

1871 Alexandria Gazette, May 30, 1871, Page 2.
Letter from Loudon Co. Leesburg, Va. May 29 - Our water works are free to the general public; private rights being granted to individuals on very moderate terms.

1872 Alexandria Gazette, December 5, 1872, Page 2.
Leesburg - The Mayor, who is superintendent of the Water Works, stated, at the Council on the 29th of November, that the repairs to water works, which had been costing at least $300 per annum, would cost not more than $150,--and that the special tax on water rights would pay it.

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

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

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

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

1904 Richmond Times Dispatch, July 6, 1904, Page 5.
To Vote on Bond Issue. Leesburg, VA., July 5.--A bond issue of $30,000 to erect a gravity system of water works for Leesburg will be voted on Saturday.  It is proposed to convey the water into a reservoir from springs about three and a half miles from Leesburg.  There is considerable opposition to the plan.

1906 Richmond Times Dispatch, July 8, 1906, Page 22.
Leesburg.--W. G. Morris, of Phoebus, Va. has contract at $25,400 for the construction of water works system.  Two small concrete pools, power house, 2 1/2 miles 8, 6, and 4-inch C. I. pipe and 52 fire hydrants will be installed.

1906 Richmond Times Dispatch, September 28, 1906, Page 5.
Leesburg, VA.--The Water Works Committee of this town have been unable to dispose of the bonds authorized to be issued by the amount of 30,000 for the construction of the water works system.  This is due to stringency in the money market.  Manassas and other towns have experienced the same difficulty.

1965 “Original Water System Included Wooden Pipes,” by Penelope Osburn, Loudoun Times-Mirror, July  29,  1965, 

2009 Wooden Water Pipe Reveals History of Town’s Infrastructure, by Jennifer Fulcher | also here |

© 2016 Morris A. Pierce