Documentary History of American Water-works

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North Central States
Wisconsin La Crosse

La Crosse, Wisconsin

La Crosse was first settled in the 1840s and incorporated as a city in 1856.

The La Crosse Hydraulic Company was incorporated in 1856 by Theodore Rodolf, John S. Simonton, Samuel T. Smith, Chase A. Stevens, William J. Gibson, Dugald D. Caneron, Samuel D. Hastings, A. P. Blakeslee and Thos. B. Stoddard with the exclusive right "for supplying water to said city or village for the period of twenty five years."  An 1867 law amended the list of incorporators to include Theodore Rodolf, John S. Simonton, John M. Levy, Harvey T. Rumsey, T. J. L. Tyler, Dougald D. Cameron, Charles Michel, A. P. Blakeslee and T. B. Stoddard, and also extended the company's exclusive privilege from 25 to 50 years. Nevertheless, the company did not build anything.

Water is provided by the City of La Crosse.

1856 An act to incorporate the La Crosse Hydraulic Company.  March 31, 1856.

1860 An act to amend an act entitled "An act to incorporate the La Crosse Hydraulic Company," approved March 31, 1856.  March 13, 1860. 

1867 An act to amend chapter 410 of the private and local laws of 1856, entitled "an act to incorporate the La Crosse hydraulic company."  February 20, 1867.

1881 History of La Crosse County, Wisconsin  
Pages 504-505:  The Water Supply.  Until the year 1877, the water supply for the Fire Department consisted of fifteen cisterns, the water being obtained from the river.
In 1877, the present system of water works was adopted, and the first pumping was done in November. The pumps in use are from the renowned George F. Blake & Co. Duplex Pump Company. The pump, pump-house and grounds cost about $30,000, and its guaranteed capacity is 2,500,000 gallons every twenty-four hours, but in case of necessity will pump nealy double that quantity. In the Fifth Ward is another duplex pump of the same make.  The water supply consists of nine and a quarter miles of pipe, as follows: 1,700 feet of sixteen-inch pipe, 623 feet of twelve-inch pipe, 13,080 feet of eight-inch pipe, 32,352 feet of six-inch pipe, 1,133 feet of four-inch pipe. In connection with this are ninety-six hydrants. The entire cost of the water supply is $90,000. 

1882 La Crosse, Engineering News, 9:437 (December 23, 1882)

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

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

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

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

1896 "La Crosse Water Works," The Oshkosh Northwestern, February 1, 1896, Page 3.

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

1913 "The Design of a 5000,000-Gal. Reinforced Concrete Water Works Reservoir for La Crosse, Wis.," Engineering and Contracting 39:12-13 (January 1, 1913)

1911 William Torrance, et al. vs. Board of Water Commissioners of the City of La Crosse, June 21, 1911, 7 W.R.C.R 27, Wisconsin Railroad Commission
Petition alleging that the water works system in the city of La Crosse is unable to supply the demand for water; that the mains are too small and the pressure inadequate during a large part of the summer season; that the intakes in the river are often buried in sand, and that they are now cut off on the city side of the main channel, so that sewage is pumped into the water mains, thereby endangering the health of the people.
The water is now taken from the Mississippi river, and an investigation showed that the continued use of this water, whether drawn directly from the river or from a lagoon in the city park, would require the installation of a filtration plant. Professor Slichter, of the University of Wisconsin, made an investigation of the ground water supply available, and for this purpose drove six test wells. The capacity of such wells was determined and the water therefrom analyzed chemically and examined bacteriologically, and compared with the water from the Mississippi river. It was shown that the ground water supply was adequate and the quality excellent. it is recommended that the city of La Crosse buy at least eighty acres of the land where the test wells were driven, and at once proceed to develop a municipal silpply from the underflow gravel in the valley of the La Crosse river.
Ordered: That the city of La Crosse take the necessary steps for securing and maintaining permanently a reasonable supply of wholesome water, and that it place its machinery and appliances in the proper condition to maintain adequate pressure for serving its consumers and for the extinguishing of fires.

1914 "The story of the La Crosse water works system," La Crosse Tribune, May 23, 1914.  From Wisconsin Historical Society. | text-enabled PDF of article |

1915 History of the city of La Crosse, 1841-1871, by Ray Monroe Keeler
Page 16:  La Crosse capital was not solely confined to home industry, for in 1857, the La Crosse Hydraulic Company was formed with Thomas B. Stoddard as its president. 

2017 Morris A. Pierce