Documentary History of American Water-works

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

St. Johnsbury, Vermont

St. Johnsbury was first settled in 1786.

The St. Johnsbury Aqueduct company was incorporated in 1813 by Willard Carlton, Calvin Jewett, Luther Jewett, Luther Clark, Ephraim Paddock, Samuel Crossman, and Joseph Lord "for the purpose of conveying water to the inhabitants on and near St. Johnsbury Plain."  Carlton was a partner with James Ramsey in a factory that built earthern conduits.  Ramsey had received a patent on October 4, 1810 for "clay tubes for aqueducts," which he offered to several communities including Troy, New York. The earthen, or clay, conduits were about two feet in length and did not prove to be suitable for delivering water.  The system was abandoned after about two years.

Another St. Johnsbury Aqueduct Company was incorporated in 1854 by Ephraim Jewett, Jesse P. Bancroft, Francis Bingham, Barron Moulton, James M. Warner, Russel Hallet and Horace Fairbanks, "for the purpose of constructing and maintaining an aqueduct to supply the inhabitants of the village of St. Johnsbury with water for domestic and other purposes."  This company prepared plans, but did not construct a system.

Another St. Johnsbury Aqueduct Company was incorporated in 1859 by Erastus Fairbanks, Thaddeus Fairbanks, Horace Fairbanks and Franklin Fairbanks "for the purpose of constructing and maintaining an aqueduct to supply the inhabitants of the village of St. Johnsbury with water for domestic and other purposes."

The Village of St. Johnsbury constructed water works in 1876 using a Flanders pump made by the Vergennes Machine Company, and was sued by the Holly Manufacturing Company for infringing their direct pressure patent.  The village system pumped water from the Passumpsic River, but this was determined to be unsuitable for domestic use in 1910 so was limited to fire protection, sprinkling, water troughs and fountains, stables, garages, and manufacturing purposes only.

The St. Johnsbury Aqueduct Company offered to sell the system to the Village in 1923 for $250,000 and voters accepted the offer in early 1924.

The St. Johnsbury water system is currently operated by the Town of St. Johnsbury.

References
1813  An act incorporating certain persons therein mentioned by the name of the St.Johnsbury Aqueduct Company October 29, 1813

1814 An act, in addition to an act, entitled "an act incorporating certain persons therein mentioned, by the same of the St. Johnsbury Aqueduct Company.  November 2, 1814.

1854 An act to incorporate the St. Johnsbury Aqueduct Company, November 14, 1854.

1859 An act to incorporate the St. Johnsbury Aqueduct Company, November 21, 1859.

1859 Aqueduct Manuscript by Erastus Fairbanks, in the collections of the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum

1872 An act in amendment of an act entitled "an act to incorporate the village of St. Johnsbury," approved November 23, 1852.  November 8, 1872
SEC. 1. The village of St. Johnsbury may issue their bonds, not exceeding in amount the sum of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars, payable in twenty years from the date thereof, at a place therein designated, and bearing a rate of interest not exceeding seven per cent., for the purpose of constructing and maintaining such aqueducts and reservoirs as the said village may judge best: provided the consent, in
writing, is obtained of two-thirds of the legal voters in said village.

1874 An act in amendment of an act entitled an act to incorporate the St. Johnsbury Aqueduct Company, approved November 21, 1859.  November 23,1874.  Capital stock increased to $100,000.

1882 St. Johnsbury, from Engineering News 9:75 (March 4, 1882)

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

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

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

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

1892 An act to legalize and continue the organization of the St. Johnsbury Aqueduct Company, November 4, 1892

1896 An act in amendment of an act approved November 23, 1874, entitled an act in amendment of an act to incorporate the St. Johnsbury Aqueduct Company, Approved November 21, 1859, November 11, 1896

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

1913 Veto Message: Governor Fletcher 1913 (H.371) An act to amend No. 416 of the Acts of 1910, relating to the charter of the E. and T. Fairbanks and Company.

1914 "Village Water Supplies," from The town of St. Johnsbury, Vt: a review of one hundred twenty-five years to the anniversary pageant 1912, by Edward Taylor Fairbanks, Daughters of the American Revolution. Vermont. St. John de Crevecoeur Chapter, St. Johnsbury
Page 299: Erastus Fairbanks' Reminiscences
"My early recollection of the village of St. Johnsbury which included at that time only the houses on the Plain, vividly brings to mind the great in convenience occasioned by the want of water, especially for culinary purposes. To meet this need various projects were put forward. Captain James Ramsey and Willard Carleton at one time undertook to bring water in clay pipes from the hill northwest of the Plain. The pipes were in sections about two feet long, made by a patent machine and designed to be inserted into each other and cemented. These pipes were great absorbents of water and easily broken; and being incapable of sustaining any considerable pressure the plan proved abortive and within two years was abandoned. Specimens of those clay pipes may be found at the present day ; they were extensively used for landmarks, and in the town records of deeds reference is frequently made to corners of lots indicated by a clay pipe buried vertically in the ground."

1924 St. Albans Messenger, January 31, 1924, Page 2
At a special village meeting at St. Johnsbury recently the citizens by a vote of 100 to 26 purchased of E. & T. Fairbanks & Co. the plant of the St. Johnsbury Aqueduct Co., which supplies the domestic water to the village.  The price paid was approximately $250,000 and serial bonds for that amount bearing four and one half percent interest will be issued.  An engineering expert had previously appraised the property of about $450,000.

1934 America's Third Slow Sand Filter manuscript, 1934-1935, by Moses Newton Baker, in the collections of the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum



2015 Morris A. Pierce