Documentary History of American Water-works

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Pacific States
California Sonora

Sonora, California

Sonora was incorporated as a city in 1851.

The Gold Mount Water Company was incorporated in March, 1854, and built a system that began operating shortly thereafter by pumping water using a steam engine to the top of Gold Mount, where it distributed to the city.

The Gold Mountain Water Company was incorporated in 1900 and appears to have taken over the earlier water system, although no evidence has been found to confirm that.   The new company was sold to the Sierra and San Francisco Power Company in 1912 for $27,500, which became part of the Pacific Gas and Electric Company.  Most of the system was sold to Tuolumne County in 1983.  The system was incorporated into the new Tuolumne Utilities District in 1992.

Water is provided by the Tuolumne Utilities District.

1854 "Sonora Water Works," Sacramento Daily Union, March 21, 1854, Page 3.
The workman are steadily engaged laying the pipes, and it is estimated that the water will be flowing through them within two week from this date.

1854 Articles of incorporation of the Gold Mount Water Company, filed March 22, 1854, County Clerk's Office, Tuolumne County, California, cited in Siberian Journey: Down the Amur to the Pacific, 18561857, by Perry McDonough Collins (2011), Note 14 on page 12.  Perry McDonough Collins was involved in the Gold Mount Water Works and the Tuolumne County Water Company.

1854 "The Gold Mount Water Works," Sacramento Daily Union, May 9, 1854, Page 3.
The Sonora Herald thus speaks of these works, which are nearly completed:
We consider this to be the greatest improvement to Sonora that ever has, or perhaps, ever will be introduced.  It not only supplies one of the greatest wants of our citizens, but also is the best safeguard against fire it is possible for us to have.
The spring from which they take the ater is situated in about the middle of Holden's garden, at the north end of the city, and is any feet below the level of Washington street.  It is the largest and best spring anywhere in this vicinity.
The water is led in iron pipes to Wood's Creek, at the foot of Gold Mount, where an engine is placed to raise it some eight or a hundred feet up the Mount so as to bring it up above the level of all the houses in Washington and adjoining streets. l When it arrives at the height required, it is conducted in pipes ready laid to receive it into the reservoir back of the United States Hotel, from when it is taken down again to the level of Washington street.
The reservoir is a first class piece of work.  It is excavated out of solid rock, to a depth of from ten to fifteen feet, and is spacious and roomy.  The lower side is called up with slabs of slate, and then cemented all over.  The earth on the upper side is prevened from caving into the reservoir by a wall of stout timber, by which means no dirt or filth is allowed to mix in the water or defile it.  The water retains its original coldness and purity to an extent hardly credible.

1855 An act to re-incorporate the City of Sonora.  March 9, 1855.
Sec. 12.  The Trustees shall also have power to provide for the supply of water for the prevention and extinguishment of fires  ... and to pass all necessary ordinances for the protection of "Gold Mount Water Works," and to regulate the sale and distribution of water in the city.

1857 "More Water for Sonora," Sacramento Daily Union, December 1, 1857, Page 3.
An additional supply of water is contemplated for the town of Sonora, though the assistance of the Gold Mount Water Company.  This company is in negotiation with the Columbia and Stanislaus River Company, for a quantity of pure fresh water equal to that required to fill a reservoir of the same capacity as the one now in use.  The Sonora Herald of Nov. 28th, adds:
It may be well to state that this company has a contract with the city of Sonora, to last ten years from some time in the year 1853, to introduce water within the corporate limits of the city. The terms of the contract grant them the exclusive privilege of laying pipes in the streets for this purpose, in consideration of their furnishing gratis, sufficient water to extinguish fires.  Their reservoir, on Gold Mount, will contain seventy thousand gallons of water. The quantity of water used in the city has so increased, within the last year, that the company find it necessary to keep the engine and pump used for raising the water from Holden's Garden, in operation, whereas formerly the demand required that they should only keep at work in daytime. The quantity of water used in Sonora now is twice as much as was consumed a year ago.

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

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

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

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

1900 Municipal Engineering 19(3):238 (September, 1900) 
Newly-incorporated water companies:  Gold Mountain Water Company, Sonora, Cal.

1912 "Sonora Water System Sold," Sacramento Union, November 21, 1912, Page 9.
Reported that Sierra and S.F. Co. Assumes Control and Will Improve Service.
Sonora, Nov 20.- It is unofficially reported that the Gold Mountain Water Company has sold out its entire Sonora water system to the Sierra and San Francisco Power Company, which already furnishes a part of the city with water.  It is understood a number of improvements will be made.  Reports place the purchase price at $45,000.

1912 "In the Matter of the application of Sierra and San Francisco Power Company and Gold Mountain Water Company for an order approving the purchase by the Sierra and San Francisco Power Company of all the property of Gold Mountain Water Company."  Decided December 6, 1912. Decisions of the Railroad Commission of the State of California 1:975-979

2018 Morris A. Pierce