Documentary History of American Water-works

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

Rutland, Vermont

Rutland is in Vermont's oldest town that was chartered in 1735.   

In 1794, Gershom Cheney built a 2 mile aqueduct of wood logs to supply water to Rutland from a spring in the town of Mendon.  The Rutland Aqueduct Company was incorporated in 1800 by Israel Smith, Darius Chipman, and Nathan Osgood to own and operate the existing water system.

The Rutland Water Company was incorporated in 1853 by George T. Hodges, George W. Strong, Isaac McDaniels, E. Fosterbrook, Josiah Huntoon, L. Daniels, W. H. B. Owen, P. Johnson, J. B. Page, F. Chaffee, O. L. Robbins, James Porter, Reuben R. Thrall, Robert Pierpont, and Charles B. Manser "to supply the inhabitants of the village of Rutland with pure water for domestic purposes.  The charter authorized the company "to take, occupy, and improve under a durable lease from, or other agreement as they may make, with the Rutland acqueduct company, the present acqueduct right of way and other privileges and property of the said Rutland acqueduct company."

The water system was leased to the Village of Rutland in August 1857 for one thousand years.  The first cast iron pipe was installed the following year.

The Rutland water system is currently operated by the City of Rutland.

1797 A descriptive sketch of the present state of Vermont: One of the United states of America by John Andrew Graham
Page 65-66 [Describing Rutland] The water is conveyed from the mountains in wooden pipes, laid about two feet under ground.

1800 An act to incorporate the proprietors and owners of an aqueduct in the east parish of Rutland, into a company, for the purpose therein mentioned, November 6, 1800

1802 Weekly Wanderer (Randolph, Vermont), October 2, 1802, Page 1
Rutland, (Vermont), September 20, Fatal Accident
On Monday evening last, as Mr. Samuel Fuller, of this town, was assisting to put into a waggon a large water post, (about nine feet in length, which had lately been taking up from the aqueduct for conveying water into this village,) and after having raised it on one end, put his arms  round it to adjust it for putting into the waggon, when he fortunately fell backwards on hard ground, and the post falling on his head, put an immediate period to his existence.  A few faint gasps were all the signs of of remaining life that was discovered after his fall.
He has left a wife and six children, most of whom are too young to assist in supporting themselves, whose situation by the untimely death of their father (on whose personal exertions they principally depended for subsistence) claims the commiseration and relief of the friendly and benevolent.

1850 An act relating to the Rutland Aqueduct Company, November 6, 1850.

1851 An act relating to the Rutland Aqueduct Company, in addition to the act incorporating said company, approved November 4, 1800, and to the act relating to said company, approved, November 6, 1850. November 19, 1851.

1852 An act relating to the Rutland Village Corporation, November 8, 1852.  Authorized to contract with the Rutland Aqueduct Company.

1853 An act to incorporate the Rutland Water Company, November 21, 1853.

1858 An act in addition to an act incorporating the village of Rutland, November 16, 1868.

1861 An act relating to the duty of water commissioners in the village of Rutland. November 8, 1861.

1874 The Village of Rutland v. Jacob Edgerton, 47 Vt. 155, October, 1874, Supreme Court of Vermont
Water Rights in the Village of Rutland, Acts of 1858, No. 76.

1875 "The Vergennes Water Works," The Rutland Daily Globe, January 25, 1875, Page 2.

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

1885 Rutland, from Engineering News 14:46 (July 18, 1885)

1886 History of Rutland County, Vermont: with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers, Volume 1 by Henry Perry Smith and William S. Rann
Page 325:  Gershom became a conspicuous figure in pioneer times ; he was an architect and builder of prominence, planned and helped to build the old brick church, and erected many of the oldest houses in the place, including that recently occupied by Luther Daniels, and the old Kilburn house next south of the Governor Page residence. He held most of the town offices, was selectman in 181 2-13 and '14, and made the grand list after he was eighty years of age. He built the first aqueduct from a spring in the town of Mendon to supply Rutland with water; there was then no reservoir; he also kept a tavern on his place north of the village for eleven years.
Pages 415-16: [1845 - Fire Society formed]  A committee was appointed to raise the company authorized and another to report on reservoirs. The report of the latter directed the erection of a reservoir "back of the North church, to be connected with the aqueduct, with logs leading from it south through the length of the street [Main street], with a branch running therefrom a sufficient distance down the west street, the bore of which to be three inches."  This was the first action towards supplying the village with means for extinguishing fires through the use of the aqueduct water in pipes. Previous to that time a few small cisterns and buckets had been used with the engine.
Pages 420-21:Water Works. In addition to what we have written of the village water supply, and its connection with the fire department, it will be of interest to note a few further facts. The first important supply of water to the village was provided through the instrumentality of Gershom Cheney, who laid wooden pipes from a large spring in the edge of the town of Mendon to the village, and posts were set up at the houses of residents, who paid a certain tax for the water supply. This arrangement continued until several years after the incorporation of the village, during most of which period it was in the control and ownership of the "Aqueduct Company." We have already stated that one of the first acts of the village authorities was the extension of the old pipes for fire purposes. The subject of a better water supply was almost constantly agitated for many years and various projects discussed. In 1857 a committee of six was appointed to investigate the matter, and their report recommended substantially that water sufficient to afford an abundant supply be brought in iron pipes to the summit of Dr. Porter's lot on Main street, where a reservoir should be erected ; thence in six-inch pipes to Main street at Hodge's corner ; thence in a five-inch pipe to Washington street, and in two-inch pipes to other parts of the village ; the size of the last named pipe was afterwards changed to three inches. Bonds were to be issued for $l6,000 to pay for the works, which should be the property of the corporation. A meeting was called to act upon these recommendations, and they were adopted. Robert Pierpoint, C. B. Mann and H. H. Baxter were made a committee to superintend the entire work. The result was the aqueduct and reservoir mentioned in the account of the fire department. A board of three water commissioners was provided for, to be elected annually, the first board being Robert Pierpoint, Lyman P. White and James Barrett. About five miles of pipe were laid in 1858. It was arranged that persons already holding posts in the Aqueduct Company should have water from the new pipes at the rate of $5 a year for a family of five persons, and at proportionate rates for a larger number. The Franklin House rates were made $45 ; Huntoon's Hotel, $15 ; stores, $5. Between this time and 1862 the water commissioners extended the pipes in East, Green, Grove, Pine, Cottage, Howe, Elm and Pleasant streets. But with the very rapid growth of the village at the period in question, the new supply soon failed to meet public necessities. The great fire of 1868 also showed a lack of sufficient facilities for such emergencies. At the annual meeting of that year a committee of five was appointed to examine into the subject of getting an adequate water supply ; they recommended the erection of new works at a cost of about $20,000, and the issue of bonds for that amount ; the committee to superintend the construction of the works were John B. Page, Lyman E. Roys, S. G. Staley and John M. Hall. The recommendations were carried out.  This supply sufficed for ten years only, and in 1878 it became apparent that a still more extensive water system was imperatively needed. The East Creek as a source was thoroughly discussed and finally adopted ; the trustees were empowered to issue bonds to the amount of $28,000, and a new twelve inch iron aqueduct was laid from a point on the creek about three miles from the reservoir, which gives about seventy feet head, to the reservoir. In 1879 water-pipes and hydrants were extended throughout the village at a cost of more than $20,000 more. At the source a large stone and gravel filter is constructed which permits only clear water to enter the aqueduct. This supply is undoubtedly ample for many years to come and gives the village water in abundance and of excellent quality.

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

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

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

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

A Short History of The Rutland City Water Supply by Alan J. Shelvey, P.E., L.S. Assistant City Engineer from Rutland City Water Plant History and Facts

2015 Morris A. Pierce