Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography
New England States Vermont Bristol

Bristol, Vermont

Bristol was founded in 1762.

The Bristol Aqueduct Company was incorporated in 1811 by Noble Munson, James Saxton, Robert Holley, Jehiel Saxton and Henry Soper "for the purpose of making, using, and enjoying an aqueduct, to supply the inhabitants of the centre village in Bristol, with water.  The company built a system that operated for nearly a century.

The Village of Bristol was authorized to acquire the water system in 1906.

The Bristol water system is owned by the Town of Bristol and operated by Simon Operation Systems Inc. of Waterbury, Vermont. 

1811 An act to incorporate certain persons by the name of the Bristol Aqueduct Company. October 26, 1811.

1859 History and Description of New England, by Austin Jacobs Coolidge and John Brainard Mansfield
Page 763: Bristol. The greater part of it is accommodated by an aqueduct nearly four hundred rods in length, laid in water-lime.

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

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

1906 An act to amend sections 3, 11, 12, 25, 26 27, 28, 29, and 30 of No. 90 of the acts of 1886, entitled "an Act to incorporate the village of Bristol." December 19, 1906.

1959 History of Bristol, Vermont (1762-1959)
Page 46-47:  Water
The history of a water supply in Bristol Village begins in 1811 when, in the fall, a company was incorporated to supply the residents of the Village with water. In the principal aqueduct, the water was brought first in hollow logs, then in lead pipes, which proved so unsatisfactory that the logs were used again. In 1841, pipes were made from water, cement, lime, and river sand. These pipes proved succesful and were probably used until the Munsill system was established. In the smaller aqueducts, wood logs were used exclusively.
On November 25, 1883, the following residents of Garfield Street met and formed the Garfield Aqueduct Company: C. E. Smith, J. J. Dumas, M. P. Varney, S. D. Farr, E. G. Prime, Clark Huntington, and Frank Greenough. At this meeting, it was voted to assess each shareholder twenty dollars to meet the expense of buying the pipe. A meeting was held April 26, 1884, at which the constitution and bylaws of the company were adopted and officers elected. The supply of water was confined to the residents of Garfield Street and to S. D. Farr of North Street and to T. S. Drake on East Street who owned the spring from which the water was taken. Mr. Drake leased this spring to the company on January 3, 1885. The company was of short duration, the last recorded meeting being held April 10, 1889.
During the decade 1880-90, the Rock Spring Water Company was established. This system, better known as the Munsill system because N. H. Munsill was the leading stockholder, took its first supply of water from a spring on Hogback Mountain. Later the Rock Spring company laid a line from a spring back of Bristol Pond to the Village and still later supplemented this by obtaining water from the spring in the Basin. At first this water was piped into tubs near the street, one tub serving two families.
In 1903, Bristol Village was incorporated and the Rock Spring system could not supply the needs of the whole Village. At one time, a huge ram was brought to Bristol via the railroad with  the thought that it would be able to push water from the New Haven River up the hill into the Village. The ram operated but it would not push one drop of water up into the Village water mains. After two months of trying to make the ram work as it should, it was shipped back by rail to the manufacturer.
By 1905, plans were underway to bring water from springs at the base of Mount Abraham in Lincoln to a reservoir on Hogback Mountain and the present gravity system was thus established. In the spring of 1906, it is
said Bristol “was sure a sick-looking Village” as every man that could be hired was put to work with pick and shovel to dig ditches for water pipes through the streets and into house cellars. Meanwhile, the reservoir was
being built on Hogback.
Some time after this, the Munsill system ceased to operate. The spring in the Basin came into use again in the winter of 1933-34 when parts of the water mains in the Village froze. A pump was installed there to pump water into the mains which were not frozen and to prevent a water famine.
At a Village meeting in 1934, it was voted to buy the pump and equipment and install it permanently to be ready for emergencies.
In 1973, another water pump was installed along the New Haven River at the base of South Street. Originally this pump and the Basin Street pump were to be backup systems to the gravity system. Currently all three systems are used daily to feed water into the Village reservoir.
In 1964, there was much talk about chlorinating the water in Bristol. Finally the vote for chlorination was approved. In July 1964, a building to house a chlorinator was constructed on Briggs Hill where part of the water supply pipes are laid. Currently chlorination is mechanized at three locations, the Briggs Hill station, the Basin Street pump, and the South Street pump.
Water samples are sent to the Vermont State Health Department generally three times a month for testing. Daily it is tested at varying locations for turbidity.
The reservoir has a six-hundred-fifty-thousand gallon capacity. It is encircled by an eight-foot high fence and the brush around it is kept down. It is cleaned by hand at least twice a year and any cracks are sealed. There is a diversion pipe at the mouth of the reservoir so that the water supply can flow directly into the Village line when the reservoir is emptied for maintenance purposes. The Village Water Department serves five-hundred-fifty households. Bristol residents often say the cool, clear mountain spring water is the best water in the state.
Much of this information was compiled by Water Foreman John C. Smith.

The University of Vermont has records of the Bristol Aqueduct Company from 1811 to 1911

© 2015-2022 Morris A. Pierce