Documentary History of American Water-works

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New England States Massachusetts Chicopee

Chicopee, Massachusetts

Chicopee was first settled in 1640.

The first water works was built by Charles W. McClallan (1828-1888) and Robert Eddy Bemis (1798-1873).  They built a gravity system that began operating in 1845, using wrought-iron cement-lined and vitrified clay (earthen) pipe.  McClallan and his father Charles also built the system for the New Haven Water Company in 1860-61.

The Chicopee Central Fire District used water from the 1845 system for fire protection until 1867, when it installed its own piping system for fire protection using water pumped by the Ames Manufacturing Company.  In 1886 the fire district contracted with the Chicopee Water Company for fire service.

The Chicopee Water Company was incorporated in 1877 by Charles McClallan, William C. McClallan, Emerson Gaylord, Erastus Stebbins, John X. Denison and Chauncy H. Hyde "for the purpose of furnishing the inhabitants of the centre village of Chicopee with pure water for the extinguishment of fires, domestic and other purposes."  This company bought the 1845 system for $36,400 and built a new designed designed by Stockwell Bettes (1835-1904) of Springfield, which it operated until 1893, at which time it was purchased by the city of Chicopee.

In 1881 the Chicopee Falls fire district was authorized to supply the village of Chicopee Falls with water, and built a system that distributed water pumped by the Chicopee Manufacturing Company. 

The Williamansett Water Company was incorporated in 1892 by Charles L. Goodhue, Arthur P. West and Harry L. Montague "for, the purpose of supplying the village of Willimansett and Chicopee street, both within
the limits of the city of Chicopee, with water for domestic, manufacturing and other purposes, including the extinguishing of fires." 

Shortly thereafter, the city of Chicopee was authorized to buy the existing water systems in Chicopee and Chicopee Falls, which voters agreed to in September, 1892.  The city paid $9,587.11 for the Williamansett Water Company and $110,000 for the Chicopee Water Company, taking over the latter company on March 1, 1893.

Water is provided by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority and distributed by the City of Chicopee, which includes a history of the water department.

1877 An Act to incorporate the Chicopee water company.  April 3, 1877.

1879 Charles W. McClallan (1803-1879) grave

1879 History of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts: History of Franklin County. History of Hampden County
Page 976: Water-Works. In 1845, Charles W. McClallan and R. E. Bemis constructed the first works for supplying water through pipes to the village of Chicopee, then Cabotville. For this purpose water was taken from springs and wells at the higher elevation just south of the village. These works answered a temporary purpose, and in 1874, after the death of Mr. Bemis, became by purchase wholly the property of Mr. McClallan. In 1876 arrangements were made for a more satisfactory supply from certain spring-fed brooks, beyond the east line of Chicopee, in Springfield, and there a dam was accordingly erected. The following year a company was incorporated with a capital limited to $75,000. The interests of Mr. McClallan were purchased by this company, he remaining a stockholder. The incorporators were Charles McClallan, Emerson Gaylord, George A. Denison, C. H. Hyde, Erastus Stebbins, and William C. McClallan. The company was organized as the "Chicopee Water Company," April 18, 1877, with $50,000 capital. The mains have been extended, and are chiefly of iron, cement-lined, though some are of iron only. The supply of water is large, and is furnished to the corporations and private dwellings, and also to the fire district.
The works have about eighty feet head. Officers: Charles McClallan, President; William C. McClallan, Treasurer.

1881 An act to supply the village of Chicopee Falls in Chicopee with pure water.  May 13, 1881.

1882 Chicopee, from Engineering News 9:39  (February 4, 1882)

1882 Chicopee, from "The Water-Supply of Certain Cities and Towns of the United States," by Walter G. Elliot, C. E., Ph. D.

1884 Chicopee Falls," from Engineering News 11:347 (May 17, 1884)

1888 William M. McClallan (1828-1888) grave

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

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

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

1892 An Act to incorporate the Williamansett water company.  May 31, 1892

1892 An act to authorize the city of Chicopee to introduce a public water supply.  June 15, 1892. 

1894 "Water Commissioners Report," from City of Chicopee, Municipal Register for 1893.  Includes a good history of the early water systems in Chicopee.

1896 Chicopee Illustrated 1896
Pages 42-43: Intimately associated with John Chase in the work of building the town, was Charles W. McClellan, who took contracts and built most of the masonry and stone work of Chicopee's mills, dams and public buildings. He is noted in many states for his faithful and enduring work, and was beloved and respected by all who knew him. His public spirit led in 1845 to the construction of the first works for supplying the town with water through pipes. Associated with him in this work was Robert E. Bemis. Water was first supplied from the springs and wells at a higher elevation just south of the village. After the death of Mr. Bemis it became wholly the property of Mr. McClellan. In 1876 a dam was erected beyond the east line of Chicopee in Springfield for a more satisfactory supply of water, and in 1877 the Chicopee Water Company was formed with Mr. McClellan as a stockholder.

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

1902 "Our County and Its People": A History of Hampden County, Massachusetts, Volume 3, Editor Alfred Minot Copeland
The first general water supply was brought to the then village of Cabotville in 1845 through pipes laid from the higher ground to the south of the village by Charles W. McClellan and R. E. Bemis. Springs and wells furnished the source of supply, and this simple system was found adequate for thirty years, it having near the end of that period become the property of Mr. McClellan, following the death of Mr. Bemis. In 1876 arrangements were made to increase the supply by taking the flow of certain pure-water brooks just east of the Chicopee line, within the limits of Springfield. In the following year a company with a capital stock of $50,000 was organized as the Chicopee Water company, with Mr. McClellan as president, and a system of pipes was laid for supplying manufacturers, residents, and the fire service. The supply thus secured, which was furnished by gravitation, proved adequate until 1886, when a pumping station was erected at the junction of South and Springfield streets. In 1892 steps were taken for the inauguration of an adequate water service for the entire city, to be operated under the direction of a board of water commissioners, and this innovation was carried through during that and the following years. The property of the Chicopee Water company was secured by the city, to avoid any conflict of interests, and a supply more suitable in volume and in quality was secured by damming Cooley and Morton brooks, within the city limits, an adequate system of mains and pipes being laid. A wrought-iron stand-pipe sixty feet in height and with a capacity of more than a million gallons was erected on Keating's hill, and first-class pumping engines of liberal capacity were also installed. The property of the Willimansett Water company, organized in 1892, was likewise purchased by the city, thus bringing the entire water-supply system of the city under a single management. The board of water commissioners for 1901 consists of Patrick Rourke, chairman, Frank H. Morton and Andrew Gale. George E. Carter is superintendent.

2016 Morris A. Pierce