|Introduction||Historical Background||Chronology||Geography||Biography||Technology||Ownership and Financing||General Bibliography|
Springfield was founded in 1821, incorporated as a town in 1832, and as a city in 1840.
The Springfield Water Works Company was incorporated in 1855 with a capital stock not to exceed $200,000 by John T. Stuart, Robert Irwin, N. H. Ridgely, John Priest, Charles R. Hurst, John Williams and Jacob Bunn "for the purpose of supplying the said city of Springfield with pure and wholesome water."
A second Springfield Water Works Company was incorporated in 1857 with a capital stock not to exceed $200,000 by John T. Stuart, William R. Fondey, N. H. Ridgely, John W. Priest, Charles R. Hurst, John Williams and Jacob Dunn "for the purpose of supplying the said city of Springfield with pure and wholesome water."
Charles Ranney Vandercook, superintendent of Chicago's Water Works, was engaged by the city in 1860 to prepare an estimate of a system for Springfield. Local voters approved the plan in March, 1861, by a vote of 866 to 532, but the selected contractor appears to have been unable to secure financing due to the outbreak of the Civil War.
After the war another attempt was made to construct water works. City officials visited systems in Detroit and Cincinnati, and engaged Cincinnati superintendent Henry L. Earnshaw to redesign the 1861 plan. The city advertised for proposals in May, 1866 and awarded contracts in June. The 2 MGD steam pumping engine was awarded was to J. B. Earnshaw & Co., a firm run by John B. and Joseph Earnshaw, brothers of Henry . John B. Earnshaw was injured in a buggy accident while working on the pump house, and died on May 1, 1878.
The works were accepted on July 25, 1868. A 3 MGD Worthington pump replaced the Earnshaw pump in 1876 and a second Worthington pump was added in 1891.
Water is provided the City of Springfield, which has a history page.
1855 An act to incorporate the Springfield Water Works Company. February 14, 1855.
1857 An act to incorporate the Springfield Water Works Company. February 16, 1857.
1857 "The Artesian Well,"
Daily Illinois State Register, August 4, 1857, Page 2.
We have already stated, and our citizens are aware that the city authorities have appropriated three thousand dollars to be devoted to experimenting after artesian power to supply the city with water.
1857 Daily Illinois
State Register, September 23, 1857, Page 2.
Springfield Water Works Comp'y. The stockholders of the Springfield Water Works Company are notified that an installment of twenty-five percent of the capital stock is required to be paid on or before the 16th day of October next, at the banking house of N. H. Ridgely, to Chas. Ridgley, the treasurer of the company. By order of the directors. Wm. E. Keefer, Secretary. Sept 23rd.
1857 Daily Illinois
State Journal, September 24, 1857, Page 3.
The Artesian Well. - We are informed that the Springfield Water Works Company have obtained the refusal of the property whereon [illegible] and Eastman's mill is located, on the East side, and will commence boring for water today. The engine heretofore employed in the mill will be used for that purpose, and the work pushed with vigor. We would suggest that a suitable person be detailed from the State Geologist's office to make an analysis of the different Strata of Earth and Stone which may be brought up during the progress of the work.
1858 "The Artesian Well,"
Daily Illinois State Journal, January 8, 1858, Page 3.
The contractor, Mr. Morris, continues his labors with indefatigable zeal in search of coal and water. On yesterday the drill had reached a total depth of four hundred and seventy-five feet.
1858 Daily Illinois
State Register, September 3, 1858, Page 1.
Springfield Water Works Co. The stockholders of the Springfield Water Works Company are notified that the fourth installment of twenty-five per cent. of the capital stock is required to be paid on or before the 31st day of Aug. instant, to Charles Ridgley, the Treasurer of the Company. By order of the directors. Wm. E. Keefer, Sec'y. Aug 7
1858 "Springfield Water Works Company Artesian Well," Daily Illinois State Journal, October 26, 1858, Page 2.
1859 Daily Illinois
State Journal, March 1, 1859, Page 3.
The artesian well, which is now being bored in this city ... has reached a total depth of nine hundred and forty-five feet ... passing through hard-gritty limestone.
1859 Daily Illinois
State Journal, June 29, 1859, Page 3.
An ordinance in relation to the Springfield Water Works Company was read and referred to the appropriate committee. It provides for the purchase of the entire stock by the city, which is to continue the prosecution of the work.
Illinois State Journal, June 3, 1860, Page 3.
Alderman Fitzhugh moved that the Superintendent of the Water Works in Chicago, be requested to come and make an estimate of the cost of erecting water works in this city. - Adopted.
1860 "Springfield Water Works," Daily Illinois State Journal, June 19, 1860, Page 3. Plan to supply water from river.
1860 "Springfield Water Works," Daily Illinois State Journal, July 21, 1860, Page 3. Summary of Vandercook's preliminary plans and specifications.
Proceedings," Daily Illinois State Journal, September 29, 1860,
The plans and specifications of Mr. Vandercook were adopted. The Mayor was authorized and instructed to solicit for bids from persons at St. Louis, Chicago, and other points.
1860 "The Springfield Water Works," Daily Illinois State Journal, October 4, 1860, Page 3. Summary of Vandercook's plans and specifications.
1860 "The Water Works Contract, October 16, 1860," Daily Illinois State Journal, March 9, 1861, Page 2.
Water Works," Daily Illinois State Journal, October 27,
1860, Page 3.
The contract for the Springfield Water Works has been let to Messrs. Ennis & Eastman - their bid being $139.000. There were four bids for the work, the highest reaching $160,000. The work of excavation has already been commenced, and the enterprise will be pushed forward with all possible energy.
1860 "The City Swindled Out of $30,000. Corruption and Rottenness," Daily Illinois State Register, November 22, 1860, Page 2.
City Water Works - The Register's Rockback," Daily Illinois
State Journal, November 23, 1860, Page 3.
We are authorized to state on the authority of Mayor Sutton that the whole article is a base fabrication, and abounds in misstatements of facts from beginning to end.
Water-Works," Daily Illinois State Register, December 14, 1860,
This wonderful institution which was to give labor to the million previous to the late election, if, we understand, progressing at a snail's pace. Not millions, not thousands, nor yet hundreds, are employed to work on this extraordinary political machine. Three stalwart men, with a "boss," are exerting themselves strenuously to bring it to completion, and it is expected that, by the aid of a few additional hands or so before the next municipal election, and a proportionate increase of the force at each succeeding election, the citizens of Springfield will be likely to reap all of the advantages to accrue therefrom in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred - Vive la humbug!
1861 An act to incorporate the Springfield Water Works Company. February 21, 1861. Formed a board of water commissioners.
1861 An act providing for the submission of the act incorporating the Springfield Water Works Company of the City of Springfield to the qualified voters thereof. February 21, 1861.
1861 An act to authorize the Governor and Secretary to contract with the Water Commissioners of the City of Springfield and with said City for the purposes herein named. February 22, 1861.
1861 Amendments to the city charter of the city of Springfield, Illinois: Approved Feb. 18, 1859, and Feb. 21, 1861. And revised ordinances, passed since 1858. Includes several ordinances relating to the water works.
1861 "The Contract for the Water Works," Daily Illinois State Journal, March 6, 1861, Page 2. Terms of contract with Ennis & Eastman, main pipe to have four and a half miles of iron and cement pipe, remainder to be tamarack, as used in Detroit, Albany, and Buffalo.
1861 "Water Works Election," Illinois State Journal, March 13, 1861, Page 2.
1861 "The Water Works,"
Daily Illinois State Register, July 3, 1861, Page 3.
"Why won't the water works go on?" When the scheme was first agitated it was said by the advocates of the measure that Mr. Eastman would take the city bonds at par. It does not appear that Mr. Eastman is now willing to redeem his promise.
1863 An act to amend an act entitled "An act to incorporate the Springfield Water-works Company," approved February 21st, 1861. February 21, 1863.
1866 "Notice to Contractors," Daily Illinois State Journal, May 17, 1866, Page 2. Request for water works proposals.
Water Works Question," Daily Illinois State Journal, July
20, 1865, Page 2.
We find that in March, 1862, the Board made a report of progress made in the work, but in view of the deranged finances of the country in consequence of the war, recommended a suspencsion of the work for that year.
Water-Works Question," Daily Illinois State Journal, October
17, 1865, Page 3.
Report of the Committee Appointed to visit Chicago, Detroit, &c.
Water Works," Daily Illinois State Journal, January 15,
1866, Page 3.
Henry Earnshaw, Esq., Chief Hydraulic Engineer of Cincinnati, arrived in this city on Saturday last, for the purpose of inspecting the surveyed route of the proposed Water Works.
1866 "Notice. Request for Proposals," Daily Illinois State Journal, May 16, 1866, Page 1.
Springfield Water Works," Daily Illinois State Register,
June 23, 1866, Page 4.
Letting of the Contracts - The Work to be Commenced Immediately.
1866 "All About the Water Works," Daily Illinois State Register, November 26, 1866, Page 4.
1867 An act to amend an act entitled "An act to incorporate the "Springfield Water Works Company," approved February 21, 1861. February 18, 1867. Authorized to borrow up to $250,000 in additional funds for water works.
1868 "Accident," Daily Illinois State Register, January 13, 1868, Page 4. John B. Earnshaw, Esq., engineer in charge of the city water works seriously injured. He returned home to Cincinnati in April, but died from his injuries on May 1, 1868, as his engine was being tested.
1868 "Water Works
Accepted," Illinois State Journal, July 25, 1868, 1861, Page 5.
At a meeting of the Water Works Commissioners, held at their office yesterday, the commitment appointed at a previous meting reported in favor of accepting the water works, and the report was adopted. The commissioners will take charge of the entire works today.
1871 "Springfield Water Works," History of Springfield, Illinois, Its Attractions as a Home and Advantage for Business, Manufacturing, Etc. Published Under the Auspices of the Springfield Board of Trade, by John Carroll Power
Inter Ocean, May 20, 1872, Page 2.
An accident happened to the boilers of the Springfield water works, Thursday morning, and the people of the capital will be on "short commons" for water for ten days.
1880 "Springfield's Water Works," The Pantagraph (Bloomington, Illinois), April 28, 1880, Page 2.
1882 Springfield, Engineering News, 9:405 (November 25, 1882)
1882 Springfield from "The Water-Supply of Certain Cities and Towns of the United States," by Walter G. Elliot, C. E., Ph. D.
1888 "Springfield," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 1.
1890 "Springfield," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 2.
1891 "Springfield," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 3.
1897 "Springfield," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 4.
1913 "Report on the Public Water Supply of Springfield, Illinois," by Paul Hansen and W. G. Stromquist, Chemical and Biological Survey of the Waters of Illinois: Report for Year Ending December 31, 1913
1915 "City Water Supply," Public Health in Springfield, Illinois: A Survey By the Department of Surveys and Exhibits, Russell Sage Foundation, by Franz Schneider
Saga. 200 years : an illustrated Bicentennial history of Sangamon
County, by Bruce Alexander Campbell
Page 87: Wanted: A Better Water Supply. Agitation began in 1857 for a better water supply, since no progress had been made when four years earlier, a chain pump had been installed at the southwest corner of the square.
In the April 6 issue of the Illinois State Register appeared an editorial comment: "The greatest drawback upon our city thus far has been an insufficiency of water. If we had the necessary supply of water, we might occupy a front rank amongst manufacturing cities."
On April 22, the Register commented: "The subject of artesian wells has recently excited some degree of interest in our city. There is no kind of doubt but that water can be obtained by artesian wells in this city at a very small expense."
In May, the Illinois State Journal commented: "As we have already announced, the common council has made an appropriation of $3,000 for the purpose of boring an artesian well for the city. The appropriation, however, is made contingent upon the subscription of a similar sum on the part of the citizens."
The Register quoted the Journal on this article, and, for once, they both agreed.
The Springfield Water Works Company, organized to furnish the city with water, went ahead with the artesian well digging for two years. In spite of all the to-do, they found no water, although they did strike a vein of coal. This digging was done on Washington Street, near the eastern limits of the city at that time - about East Grand Avenue, present 19th Street.
Page 95: City Buys Water Works. In 1860, the city bought the Springfield Water Works Company and made plans to bring water to the city from the Sangamon River, north of town. In 1861, a large reservoir was built near the union market for fire fighting purposes and in 1866, a second one was built in the northeast part of the city.
A tournament was held in Springfield in 1863 for the volunteer fire departments of several of the cities of the state. This tournament became an annual affair, and was entered into with great gusto by all the volunteer fire departments who took great pride in their "engines" and especially in their ability to get to fires before their competitors. However, in Springfield that year there was not enough water to put on a demonstration. Four cisterns had been built around the courthouse square and at several other spots in the city just for fire fighting purposes, but these did not supply the energetic volunteers with enough water for their show. The Journal made an issue of the inadequate fire protection of the city and started agitation for a better and more adequate water supply.
Possibilities were investigated of bringing water from the Sangamon River into town, and plans were made for building a water works at the river north of town. After selling $467,000 worth of bonds, the engine at the new water works was set in motion on April 30, 1868 to pump water into town. The water works was completed July 1 at a cost of $434,000, the second in the state of Illinois. With 80,000 feet of water pipe, 51 fire plugs, and 12 hydrants in place, a 15-inch main began pumping water from the river.
1993 "The Origins of Lake Springfield," by Brandon M. Keafer, Rochester High School, Rochester, Illinois History 46(4):71-72 (May 1993)
© 2017 Morris A. Pierce