Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography
Pacific States
California Columbia

Columbia, California

Columbia was founded in 1850 and is today within the Columbia State Historic Park, which was created in 1946.

In July of 1855 the New England Water Company provided piped water for firefighting and domestic use. Seven cisterns, each with a capacity of about fourteen thousand gallons, were built under the streets. The early pipes were used until 1950, when the state installed a new water system.

The last definitive evidence of the company was the 1891 Manual of American Water Works, and it was probably sold to the Tuolumne County Water Company or one of its successors sometime after that. 

Tuolumne County acquired the water system in 1983 and it was incorporated into the new Tuolumne Utilities District in 1992.

Water is provided by the Tuolumne Utilities District.

1853 Incorporation of New England Water Company, March, 1853, by Miles R. Pinkston, George O. Hall, and S.H. Sherwin, for the purpose of supplying water the town of Columbia, Tuolumne Co., with water.  Capital stock $8,000 in 80 original shares of $100.  Term 50 years.  Cited in San Francisco Prices, Current, and Shipping List, January 23, 1855, Page 2.

1855 "Water in Columbia," Sacramento Daily Union, June 5, 1855, Page 4,
The Clipper says that the New England Water Company are busily engaged at digging ditches and laying down pipes, and in a very few weeks we will have the water passing at every man's door.

1855 "Fresh Water," Sacramento Daily Union, August 4, 1855, Page 3.
The New England Water Company have completed their works, thereby introducing water into Columbia, and furnishing very family and business house with pure fresh spring water at trifling rates. The Gazette says:
The reservoir is a beautiful structure, thirteen feet deep, and capable of containing about fifteen hundred barrels of water. It is built of brick, with walls about eighteen inches thick, and plastered inside with water-proof cement, over which they have have built a good house, protecting it entirely from the rays of the sun, thus entering the water cool, clean, and palatable.  The works are owned by five gentlemen, all residents of this place.

1882 A History of Tuolumme County, California, by B.F. Alley and Herbert O. Lang.
Pages 106-107:  The New England Water Company, it seems, from the pages of the Gazette, had conveyed the waters of a spring, distant one mile from town, through wooden pipes underground, to a reservoir containing four thousand gallons.  Thence it was taken in water-carts throughout the town, supplying families at the then cheap rate of five cents per bucketful.
The enterprise was said to pay extremely well, and later, iron pipes were laid down, capable of supplying a town of twenty thousand inhabitants. By the year 1856, hydrants connecting with these pipes had been put in position, from which streams could be thrown eighty feet high, affording a great safeguard against fire.
Pages 314-315:  Gideon Wing
Pages 356-357:  Daniel Frasier.  On April 1, 1861 was appointed Agent for the New England Water Company, which position he has held down to the present time.  Mr. Fraser married Rebeca S. Kelly, in Bath, Maine, on May 23, 1860, and has had seven children, six of whom are now living.

1884 Daniel Fraser 
Mr. Fraser and his wife, Rebecca, came to Tuolumne County from Maine in 1860, and had resided in Columbia ever since. At first he took up mining and often used his trade of carpentry. He eventually became interested in the city waterworks, and he purchased the controlling interest. He conducted business successfully and to the satisfaction of the community.

1888 "Columbia," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 1.
Supt. and Secy., G. Wing.

1890 "Columbia," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 2.
Prest. and Treas., W.H. Hilton.  Secy. and Supt., A. Tarleton.

1891 "Columbia," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 3.
Owner, Mrs. R.S. Fraser, Mgr. A. Tarleton.

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

1900 The Tarleton Tamily, by Charles William Tarleton
Page 101:  Arthur Tarlton, b. 1820; d. December 5, 1891, went to California at the time of the earlier gold craze, in 1859, drifted around from place to place till he finaly settled in Columbia, Tulman County, where he remained till his death.  He was superintendent of the water works there, and also sexton of the cemetery.

1921 Rebecca S Robson Fraser.  She owned the New England Water Company after her husband's death in 1884.

2003 Guide to the Tuolumne County Water Company Records, Columbia State Historic Park, Columbia, California.

2005 Columbia, by Friends of Columbia State Park.
Page 69:  On August 25, 1856, John Leary set about organizing a hose company for the town.  Water was to be supplied from the domestic pipes of the New England Water Company, and soon the Columbia Hose Company was erecting a frame building on Fulton Street for their hose cart.

2012 Tuolumne Utilities District Ditch Sustainability Project Historic Resource Evaluation Report, does not mention the New England Water Company.

2018 Morris A. Pierce