|Introduction||Historical Background||Chronology||Geography||Biography||Technology||Ownership and Financing||General Bibliography|
|New England States||Vermont||Bellows Falls|
Bellows Falls was founded in 1762.
The Bellows Falls Aqueduct Company was incorporated in 1821 by Bill Blake, James I. Cutler and Alexander Fleming "for the purpose of supplying the inhabitants of said Bellows Falls, with water." No further information has been found about this company.
The Second Bellows Falls Aqueduct Company was incorporated in 1822 by William Hall, Jun., John Robertson, James I. Cutler, and Dana Miller, "for the purpose of supplying the inhabitants of said Bellows Falls, with water." This company built a system using freestone pipe, which was later replaced with lead pipe. The freestone pipe was cut about two inches square and twelve or fourteen inches long, bored lengthwise, and the sections were connected by lead thimbles. The aqueduct was built by Levi Crowell, Jr. from nearby Westminster, whose father had secured a patent for stone water pipe in 1818. This system served a small number of families until early in the 20th Century.
The Third Bellows Falls Aqueduct Company was incorporated in 1834 by William F. Hall, Henry F. Green, Russell Hyde, William Henry, William Conant, James I. Cutler, John Robertson, and Samuel H. Taylor, "for the purpose of supplying the inhabitants of Bellows Falls village, in the town of Rockingham in Windham county, with water." No further information has been found about this company.
The Bellows Falls Water Company was incorporated in 1849 by Russell Hyde, William Conant, Horace Baxter, William F. Hall, and John Arms, "to supply the inhabitants of the village of Bellows Falls, in the county of Windham, with pure water for domestic uses." This company built a system taking water from Minard Pond, and in 1858 received permission to make and sell manufactured gas in the village although they apparently never did so.
The village of Bellows Falls purchased the Bellows Falls Water Company in 1872 for $22,000.
The water system is owned
by the Village
of Bellows Falls Water Department.
1821 An act, to incorporate certain persons by the name of the Bellow's Falls Aqueduct Company, November 8, 1821.
1822 An act to incorporate certain persons by the name of the "Second Bellows Falls Aqueduct Company," November 4, 1822.
1834 An act, to incorporate certain persons by the name of the Third Bellows Falls Aqueduct Company, November 6, 1834.
1849 An act to incorporate the Bellows Falls Water Company, November 9, 1849.
1853 An act in relation to the Bellows Falls Water Company, November 21, 1853.
1858 An act in addition to an act incorporating the Bellows Falls Water Company, passed November 9, 1849, November 5, 1858. Authorized the company to make and sell manufactured gas.
1872 An act establishing a water department of the Bellows Falls Village Corporation. October 25, 1872.
1874 An act authorizing the Bellows Falls Water Company to distribute its capital stock to its members, November 17, 1874.
1882 Bellows Falls, from Engineering News 9:158 (May 20, 1882)
1882 Bellows Falls, from "The Water-Supply of Certain Cities and Towns of the United States," by Walter G. Elliot, C. E., Ph. D.
1888 "Bellows Falls," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 1.
1890 "Bellows Falls," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 2.
1891 "Bellows Falls," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 3.
1892 An act in amendment of the charter of the Second Bellows Falls Aqueduct Company, November 2, 1892.
1892 An act empowering Bellows Falls Village Corporation to increase its supply of water, November 10, 1892.
1897 "Bellows Falls," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 4.
1907 History of the Town of Rockingham,
Vermont: Including the Villages of Bellows Falls, Saxtons River,
Rockingham, Cambridgeport and Bartonsville, 1753-1907, with Family
Genealogies, by Lyman Simpson Hayes
The first water supply of the village was obtained from wells dug in the vicinity of many of the residences and public buildings. The last of these wells connected with public buildings, was closed up in 1903 when the foundations of the village building were laid between Rockingham and Canal streets. When the workmen came to excavate for the foundations of the new building they found the walls of the well still in good condition although the well itself was filled to some depth with debris. This old well had an interesting history. It was dug in 1799 by Quartus Morgan, who had the year previous purchased the historic "Morgan Tavern" located on the opposite side of Rockingham street, now known as "Frost's block." It was dug as a supply for that hotel at first. It soon became the principal supply for all the residents of that vicinity, and was known as the "town well." In the last years of its use it had a large well house, and a long chain with a bucket on each end, running over a drum operated by a crank ; when one bucket ascended full, the other one descended. Many of the present old residents remember seeing this well and house, and recall going there to procure water.
When "Robertson's Tavern" was built in 1817 upon the present site of Hotel Windham, the supply of water was secured from a similar well behind the house, between where the railroad track now is and the canal. This water was good for cooking purposes, but so hard that the different proprietors of the hotel had to use a "wash house" on the banks of the canal using river water for their laundry work.
A few years after the well was dug a peculiar taste became apparent in the water. At about that time, a great interest, which in some places amounted to excitement, was engendered by the discovery of important and valuable medicinal springs in different parts of the country. The springs at Saratoga were being developed, and the medicinal qualities of the Abenaqui springs, located two miles south of Bellows Falls in the town of Walpole, which became so popular a few years later, were then being prominently discussed. The curious taste and smell in the water which came from the "Robertson Tavern" well was at once attributed to the same popular cause, and Mr. Robertson became convinced that he had a second Saratoga, with an equal bonanza for his pocket-book. The fame grew for many weeks, the qualities of the well water becoming more and more pronounced, and people came from long distances with jugs and all kinds of receptacles to get the water. It was soon reported to have made marvellous cures of many kinds of diseases. A new and showy house was erected over the well and many people boarded at the tavern to get the benefit of continuous use of the water.
One day it occurred to Mr. Robertson that it would be a good plan to clean out the well and still further improve it. When those who were at work emptying the well came to the bottom they were chagrined to find the decayed bodies of two large house cats which had in some manner fallen into the well. Their presence had caused the offensive taste and odor to which the valuable qualities had been attributed. After the cleaning was completed, there were no further indications of "medicinal" qualities, but the water was of an unusually pure and sweet taste. Mr. Robertson was ever after sensitive at being rallied upon his "medicinal" water, but claimed that he "had the advantage of having enjoyed fame, even if it was of brief duration."
When the Mansion House was erected on the location now covered by the block of the Chase Furniture company and other buildings extending as far south as the School street stairs, a well was dug almost in the centre of the ground now covered by the store of the New York Racket. Over that well for a number of years was a large wooden pump with a long handle, under which was a long trough and into it the water was pumped for animals. Buckets from the house were tilled by hanging them on the spout of the pump. The Bellows Falls Aqueducts 359 picture of this old building upon another page shows this old pump and wooden trough standing in the yard, a prominent feature of the surroundings of the building.
Traditions of the family state that Solomon Hapgood was the first resident to bring running water to his dwelling. His residence was on the west side of Westminster street, on the north corner of the present Hapgood street, where the residence of Francis G. Flint now is.
His aqueduct was at first made from pine "pump-logs," later changed to freestone. His source of supply was a small spring on the side of Oak hill. Later other persons had similar private aqueducts supplying one or two families.
As early as 1821 the question was agitated of bringing water from Minard's pond. The legislature October 27 of that year passed an act incorporating the "First Aqueduct company," upon the petition of Bill Blake, James I. Cutler and Alexander Fleming, "to bring water from Minard's pond, so called, about 1 1-2 miles from said village." No pipe was laid there until 1848.
November 4, 1822, the "Second Bellows Falls Aqueduct company" was incorporated, the act not naming the incorporators. This company was formed for the purpose of bringing water from the large springs in Westminster, just above Gage's Mills, a distance of about two miles. The first meeting of the stockholders of this corporation was held at Robertson's Tavern, June 3, 1828. The stockholders were Henry F. Green, James I. Cutler, Rufus Emerson, Alexander Fleming, William Hall, Hall & Goodrich, John Robertson, Elizabeth Atkinson, Artemas Robbins, Carlton Chase, J. D. Bradlee, Simon Pettes and Benjamin Burt. There were twenty-four shares in all, of which Judge Benjamin Burt owned three and the other stockholders owned one and two shares each. The officers elected June 16, 1828, were Dr. Artemas Robbins, president; Rev. Carlton Chase and William Hall, Esq., directors; Henry F. Green, clerk; and Simon Pettes, treasurer. They purchased the springs of Judge Burt for $100. December 30, 1828, a committee reported the aqueduct as completed by Levi Crowell, Jr., the cost being $1,696.05. Mr. Crowell gave bonds of $2,500 to guarantee that the water would run all right for three years. This aqueduct was first laid with freestone cut about two inches square and twelve or fourteen inches long, bored lengthwise, and the sections were connected by lead thimbles. A few sections of this old aqueduct are still treasured as curiosities. It was later relaid with lead pipe and has served with varying regularity from ten to fifteen families until the present time.
The present principal source of water supply of the village is a natural pond located a mile and a half northwest of the centre of the village, for many decades known as " Minard's pond." It contains thirty-seven acres, and the surface of its water is two hundred and ninety feet higher than the paving of the Square when it overflows. It nestles in a basin among the hills, completely surrounded by woods, and forms a picturesque and beautiful locality. The water comes largely from very cold springs that rise from the bottom of the pond and it is of unusually pure quality. Within the past few years, as the population of the village has increased and demanded more water, two brooks have been brought into the pond to add to the supply.
The first pipe from Minard's pond was laid in 1848 by a private corporation chartered under the name of the "Bellows Falls Water company." It was organized with the following directors: James H. Williams (1st), Asa Wenrworth, Jr., George Slate, William Conant and John Arms. Mr. Williams was president and Mr. Slate superintendent and manager during all its history. It was proposed to lay a three-inch pipe, but the village voted to pay the company six per cent interest on the amount of the difference between the cost of a three and four-inch main, and the latter size was adopted. The laying of the mains was completed in 1850 and from that year it became the principal source of supply of the village. The works were purchased by the village in 1872 for $22,000, and in 1873 the four-inch main was replaced by an eight-inch pipe. Again in 1898 this size was found inadequate and it was in turn replaced by the present main of twenty inches in diameter.
Early in the history of the use of the pond as a water supply, a dam was placed across the low bank on the east side, materially increasing the storage capacity. This dam was relaid and raised five feet higher in 1904, again increasing the estimated storage capacity from seventy-five million gallons to one hundred and thirty-five million gallons.
Frequent analysis of the water by the state laboratory has shown it to be of remarkable purity, and this have been proved by the average good health of the citizens.
1929 The Connecticut River Valley in Southern
Vermont and New Hampshire: Historical Sketches by
Lyman S. Hayes
Pages 335-337: OLD VILLAGE WELLS AND AQUEDUCTS OF BELLOWS FALLS
In the autumn of 1903, when the foundation for the present brick village building between Rockingham and Canal Streets were being laid, upon the same location where the frame building had stood since the summer of 1869 devoted to the purpose of a. village hall and fire department headquarters, the workmen found an old and deep well under it. The walls of the well were still in good condition, although debris had fallen into it to above where the water had originally stood. It was from fifteen to twenty feet deep. In order to make the foundations of the new building of the most substantial character, the well was filled up and every trace of it removed. Considerable speculation was indulged in at the time as to the history of the well, and who had probably used it in former years.
It was dug in 1799 by Quartus Morgan, who in 1798 had bought and become the proprietor of the old historic "Morgan Tavern" which was located on the opposite side of. Rockingham Street, and which still stands there, the oldest building in the village. It was recently favorably discussed by the U. S. government as a site for the new post office building. It was occupied by the Bellows Falls post office in 1805, when Mr. Morgan was postmaster. The well was dug in 1799 across the "road" for the use of the hotel and it soon become the principal water supply of all the residents in that section of the village. For many years it was known as the "Town Well" and in the last years of its history had a large well house and a long chain with a bucket on each end,  running over a drum operated with a crank. When one bucket ascended, full, the other one descended. Many residents of 50 years ago remembered seeing this well, and the house over it, and recalled going there for water. Until 1848, when the first pipe was laid from Minard's Pond, but few families in the village had the luxury of running water in their residences.
The next hotel of the village was built, sometime previous to 1826, on the location now covered by the block where Fenton & Hennessey's furniture store is. Its ell and barn extended as far south as the School Street stairs. In the yard was dug another well almost in the center of the ground now covered by the Boston Store building. Over that well for many years was a large wooden pump with a long handle. In front of it was a long trough into which the water was pumped for the animals, and buckets for the use of the hotel were filled by hanging them on the spout of the pump . A picture of the old building in the History of Rockingham shows the pump and its surroundings clearly.
Traditions of the Hapgood family state that Solomon Hapgood was the first village resident to bring running water to his dwelling. His residence was on the west side of Westminster Street, on the north corner of the present Hapgood Street, where the home of John E. Babbitt now is. Mr. Hapgood's aqueduct was made from pine "pump-logs," later changed to freestone from the quarries near Cambridgeport.
In 1822 a corporation was formed to lay a pipe and bring a supply of water from the large spring near North Westminster, and it supplied a dozen or more families many years. It was first laid with freestone cut about two inches square and twelve or fourteen inches long, bored lengthwise, and the sections were connected by lead thimbles. This was later replaced by lead pipe. A few sections of this old freestone pipe are still treasured by citizens as souvenirs of a most primitive water-supply aqueduct. There are two in the town clerk's office.
The first pipe from Minard's Pond, the present water supply of the village, was laid in 1848 by a private corporation, chartered under the name of the "Bellows Falls Water Company." The pipe was only four inches in diameter as it left the pond, reduced to three as it entered the village. Water was first used from it in 1850. The works were purchased by the village in 1872, the price paid being· $22,000. The village at once relaid the pipe by an eight-inch one, which was in turn replaced by the present one twenty inches in diameter.
Early in the history of the use of the pond as a water supply a dam was built on the east side increasing the storage capacity. In 1904 this dam was relaid and raised five feet higher, again increasing the supply and making it adequate for many years to come. The pond now covers an area of 43-1/2 acres and has an estimated capacity of 125,700,000 gallons. Frequent analysis of the water by the state laboratory has always shown it to be of remarkable purity, and this has been proven by the average good health of the citizens.
© 2016 Morris A. Pierce