Documentary History of American Water-works

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

Technology Cast Iron Pipe

Cast Iron Water Pipe

Installations of cast iron water pipes through 1865

Cast iron pipes were first installed in New York City in 1799 and slowly became more common as manufacturers developed better casting methods.


1886 "Water Pipes," by A. H. Howland, Read December 4, 1886, Proceedings of the Engineers' Club of Philadelphia 6(1):55-69. (December, 1886).  Arthur Henshaw Howland developed many water works in the 1880s and 1890s.

1896 "Making Cast Iron Pipes," by Jesse Garrett, Journal of the New England Water Works Association 11(1):27-62  (September, 1896)  Includes a good history of cast iron and other pipes.

1918 "Prices and Depreciation of Cast Iron Pipe (with discussion)," by Burt B. Hodgman, A. F. Kirstein, J. N. Chester, George A. Main, Rudolph Hering, Charles F. Barrett, E. E. Davis, Leonard Metcalf, F. N. Connet and B. B. Hodgman, Journal of the American Water Works Association, 5(2):145-162 (June, 1918)

1949 Patent issued on Ductile Iron pipe. On this day, patent Number 2,485,761 was issued to Mr. K. D. Millis and others of the International Nickel Company on October 25, 1949, for "Gray Cast Iron having Improved Properties."  It has since become known as ductile iron.   Gray iron becomes ductile iron through the inoculation of the molten mix with magnesium, changing the graphitic carbon from random flake forms into a more geometrically arrayed and spherical form.  The new matrix provides greater yield strength, ultimate strength, and elongation properties.
Cast iron pipe producers had raced International Nickel to the patent office, but International Nickel got there first.  Cast iron pipe producers soon began the commercial production of ductile iron pipe, which has supplanted cast iron due to its greater strength and toughness. Cast iron and ductile iron pipes form the backbone of America's drinking water distribution systems.
Source:  Maury D. Gaston, American Cast Iron Pipe Company.

2000 A Landscape Transformed:  The ironmaking district of Salibury, Connecticut, by Robert B. Gordon | Also here (subscription required) |
Pages 35-36:  Holley and Coffing.  They were about to deliver 200 tons of conduit pipe to Albany.
Page 61:  In addition to making bar iron, they supplied cast-iron pipe for Albany's first water system.

The Wright Family papers at the Hagley Museum and Library contain several documents relating to cast iron pipes for water works.

Also see the general bibliography page, which includes links to several lists of waterworks with information about pipes.

2016 Morris A. Pierce