Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography

Ownership and Financing of American Water-Works

Water Works Lotteries

Two aqueduct lotteries were held in London in 1635 and 1639.  Several states authorized the use of lotteries as a funding source for early water works systems, but little has been written about them. 

Year City State Comments
1795 Philadelphia PA
1798 Washington KY
1799 Baltimore MD Raised $4,381.70 but no system was built.
1806 Staunton VA
1807 Meadville PA
1807 York PA
1808 Palmyra PA
1809 Nashville TN
1811 Philadelphia PA Union Canal lottery.
1825 New London PA New London Aqueduct Company petition for lottery
1829 Wheeling WV
1832 Lexington VA
1838 Frankfort KY

1893 Lotteries in American history, by Ainsworth Rand Spofford, Annual Report of the American Historical Association
Page 176:  In 1811 the Union Canal Company was chartered by the State to open water communication with the western counties, with power to supply Philadelphia with water, and to raise for these purposes the sum of $340,000 by a lottery. Under these powers an annual drawing was held, and the privilege being continued and enlarged by a new act in 1821.
Page 188: In 1838 the Kentucky legislature empowered the city of Frankfort to raise, by a lottery, $100,000 for the use of city schools and the construction of waterworks.

1893 A history of English lotteries; now for the first time written, by John Ashton
Pages 29-33:  Lotteries for bring water to London

1972 By chance a winner; the history of lotteries, by George Sullivan
Page 32: This enormous growth triggered demands from citizens of the day for additional services. They wanted roads and canals to get goods to market, water and sewage systems, and fire-fighting equipment.
Page 33:  As new states were established, they, too, turned to lotteries to raise money. A lottery was authorized by Tennessee in 1823 for a hospital in Nashville; Frankfort, Kentucky, was granted a franchise in 1838 to raise $50,000 for a water supply system. Even the territorial governments relied upon lotteries. Missouri's first lottery, in 1817, was to provide fire-fighting equipment for the city of St. Louis, and the Michigan Territory authorized Detroit to conduct a lottery in 1819 for the same purpose.

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