|Introduction||Historical Background||Chronology||Geography||Biography||Technology||Ownership and Financing||General Bibliography|
Helena was founded in 1864 as a mining town.
The first waterworks were built in 1864 by Henry B. Truett and George Plaisted, who secured first water rights on Ten-Mile Creek and delivered the water to Helena in the Yaw Yaw ditch and later a wooden flume, from which it was distributed through wooden and later iron pipes. This system was known as the Helena Water-Ditch and Hydraulic Company. Truett and Plaisted has both come to Montana from California by way of the Costock mining district in Nevada, where they may have seen similar water systems.
Jesse F. Taylor, Albert G. Clarke, and Thomas A. Ray built a similar system somewhat later taking water from Oro Fino Gulch and were known as the Helena Water Company.
The Helena City Water Company was incorporated on April 10, 1866 over the governor's veto, but no copy of the charter has been found so names of the incorporators are not known. Some elements of the charter are mentioned in the House Journal of the Montana Territorial legislature for March 13, 1866, including the rate structure. A company of the same name was incorporated on November 30, 1866, but it is unclear why this was necessary..
The Helena Water Company was incorporated on December 1, 1885, according to the Montana Secretary of State's database, but no other information is known about this company. A company with the same name was incorporated in Ohio on November 30, 1885, and was registered with Montana on September 13, 1887. The Ohio Secretary of State reports that the Helena Water Company of Salem, Ohio was incorporated on April 13, 1887 with a capital stock of $800,000.
George F. Woolston of Boston proposed construction of a water system for Helena in October, 1886, and the city council granted an ordinance to him on November 22, 1886. Woolston was involved in building several water system in western states. Local residents obtained an injunction December 4, 1886, and courts held that the ordinance was invalid as it granted a monopoly, was not advertised, and exceeded the city's debt limits. Woolston nevertheless continued to build the system, which was built by Turner, Clarke, and Rawson of Boston who also took stocks and bonds of the company..
Woolston was able to consolidate all of the water system in 1889 under the name of The Helena Consolidated Water Company, which was incorporated on July 1, 1889 by George O. Freeman, Anselm J. Davidson, William A. Chessman, Albert R. Gates and Clyde J. Tooker. The city granted an ordinance to this new company on January 15, 1890. The company went into receivership in 1896 and was sold at auction in February, 1898 for $300,000 to its bondholders
The Helena Water-Works Company was incorporated in New Jersey on June 15, 1898 and was registered in Montana on November 25, 1898. This company endured seventeen years of conflict with the city before agreeing to sell its system for $400,000 in 1911 after city voters agreed to build a new plant.
The waterworks are currently owned by City of Helena, which has a history page.
1864 Mercantile Guide and Directory for Virginia City, Gold Hill, Silver City and American City, Compiled by Charles Collins, July 1, 1864.
Page 183: Plaisted, George, millwright, constructor and builder, corner High and Marston.
Page 296: Truett, H. B. of Darst, Harris & Co., Gold Hill.
Montana Post (Virginia City, Montana), June 10, 1865, Page 3.
Helena Items. Water. - The want of pure water for domestic uses, which for a while threatened serious inconvenience to our citizens, is now no longer felt. A company composed of the first settlers have in an incredibly short space of time laid pipes and erected hydrants throughout the city, on the same plan as the Virginia City Water Works. The projects deserve, at the hands of the citizens of Helena, something more tangible than empty thanks.
Montana Post (Virginia City, Montana), December 2, 1865, Page
The Helena Water Company are still extending conduits below James Gormley's and opposite the post-office, adding to the convenience and happiness of the inhabitants of that locality, who truly according to the Scripture, have been "carriers of water" for a long time.
Journal of the Second Session of the Legislative Assembly of the
Territory of Montana (1870)
Pages 17-18: "An act to incorporate the Helena City Water Company"
Pages 127: Legislative history
Journal of the Second Session of the Legislative Assembly of the
Territory of Montana
Page 318: An act to incorporate the Helena City Water Company. H.B. 3. Passed over the Governor's Veto, April 10, 1866. No copy of this law has been found.
Journal of the Third Session of the Legislative Assembly of the
Territory of Montana (1870)
Pages 101-102: November 19, 1866. H.B. No. 25, "An act to incorporate the Helena City Water Company."
Your Committee, therefore, ask leave to report the bill back to the House, with the following statement of facts relating thereto:
That said Water Company have had an existence for eighteen months, and have been furnishing said Helena City with water for about the same space of time. That the water so introduced into Helena City has been an incalculable blessing to the inhabitants. That it is the sole dependence of the people for water. That said company find that the present capacity of their pipes is not sufficient to conduct a full supply of water. That, in consequence of such fact, the company asks the Legislature for certain rights, etc., that the company may be more substantially secured in their property. That the expenditures of said company to date have been about eight thousand dollars. That it will cost the company as much more to bring the upper springs mentioned in said act, and conduct the water therefrom to all parts of the city. That the rates asked for are such as the people have been cheerfully paying during the year without fault. That it is important that the said Helena City should be well and amply supplied with water. That said company are amply able to meet the exigencies of the case. That the passage of the bill will not, in so far as your Committee can ascertain, interfere with any vested rights.
Therefore, your Committee respectfully recommend that the bill do pass.
Page 188: November 30, 1866, governor approves "An act to incorporate the Helena City Water Company."
1866 An act to authorize H. P. Truett and George Plaisted to construct a bed rock flume in Last Chance Gulch. December 14, 1866. Council Bill No. 63. No copy of this law has been found.
of Laws passed at the 3d Session of the Montana Legislature," The
Montana Post (Virginia City, Montana), January 5, 1867, Page 4.
35. To incorporate the Helena City water company.
Montana Post (Virginia City, Montana), April 6, 1867, Page 8.
Changed Hands. We hear a rumor that the Helena Water Ditch has changed hands, the former proprietors, Messrs. Truett and Plaisted, having disposed of their right to a couple of prominent gentlemen of this city.
Decision in the Case of the Helena Water Co.," Helena
Weekly Herald, December 26, 1867, Page 1.
Jesse F. Taylor, et al., vs John Stewart, et al., Third Dist. M.T. Dec. 27, 1867, by Judge L. E. Munson
Water Works," The Montana Post (Virginia City, Montana),
July 31, 1868, Page 6.
Iron water pipes to be brought up one one of the first boats next spring to replace wood pipes. Expense of about ten thousand dollars.
1869 Idaho Stateman
(Boise, Idaho), February 27, 1869, Page 2.
The Helena City water company are laying their pipes through Helena, so that water can be brought to bear upon every portion of the town.
B. Truett," Sacramento Daily Union, May 11, 1869, Page 3.
Sudden death of Henry B. Truett on April 23d. An old resident of California, and for a long time one of the leading merchants of San Francisco. It was principally through his energy and perseverance that what is known as the "Big Ditch" was constructed.
1871 Taylor et al., appellants, v. Stewart et al., respondents, 1 Mont. 316, January 1871, Supreme Court of Montana Territory.
1871 "First Placer Mining
Patent," Daily Rocky Mountain Gazette (Helena, Montana), April 22,
1871, Page 3.
Mr. Geo. B. Foote, claim agent, this week received from Washington the first placer mining patent ever granted to an applicant in this territory, for the Helena Water Ditch Company, consisting of J. F. Taylor, A. G. Clark, Thos. A. Ray. The patent covers the ground where the springs are location in Oro Fino Gulch, from whence the company convey the supply of water to our city.
S. Atchinson, Mary L. Atchison, and Harriett B. Truett, appellants, v.
Peterson et al., respondents, 1 Mont. 561, November 25, 1871,
Supreme Court of Montana.
Pages 564-565: This is a suit brought by the owners of the Helena Water Ditch Company against the defendants, for an injunction to restrain their mining operations on the upper Ten Mile creek. The plaintiffs’ ditch taps the creek about fifteen miles below the mines of defendants, on the same stream, and the plaintiffs claim to be the prior appropriators of the waters of the creek or so much thereof as is necessary for the purposes of the ditch, and that the mining operations of the defendants injure and damage the waters of the stream, and the ditch of the plaintiffs.
The testimony of the plaintiffs establishes the fact that the plaintiffs commenced their ditch in November, 1864, and continued work thereon until July, 1865, expending within that time about $23,000 thereon, and completing two-thirds of the digging required to complete the ditch, when their money failed, and the work suspended. No more work was performed on the ditch until August, 1866, but the company continued in possession and claiming the ditch until August, 1866, when they sold the same for $4,000, and work thereon was resumed, and the ditch completed and put in operation in 1867. There was no abandonment of the ditch within the meaning of the law, for when the work was suspended there was no intention to abandon, and the subsequent sale for a valuable consideration showed the property to be valuable, and there was, in fact, no abandonment of possession.
1874 John S. Atchison, et al., Appts., v. Peter Peterson, et al. 87 U.S. 507, December 21, 1874, United States Supreme Court.
Independent Record (Helena, Montana) August 22, 1877, Page 3.
Capt P. T. Williams is now in charge of the Helena Water Company's works, Mr. James Porter having resigned that position.
Water Works," The Yellowstone Journal (Miles City, Montana)
November 4, 1885, Page 1. | Part
New reservoir put in operation.
1885 History of Montana. 1739-1885: A History
of Its Discovery and Settlement, Social and Commercial Progress, Mines
and Miners, Agriculture and Stock-growing, Churches, Schools and
Societies, Indians and Indian Wars, Vigilantes, Courts of Justice,
Newspaper Press, Navigation, Railroads and Statistics, with Histories
of Counties, Cities, Villages and Mining Camps, by Michael
Page 734 -- The Water Companies are the Helena City, the Helena Ditch, and the West Side Companies. In July, 1883, a company composed of twelve citizens was formed for the purpose of sinking an artesian well at a point west of Dry Gulch, in the foot hills. The Helena City Company's works begin four miles south of the city, and the water taken from the springs through an arched tunnel 350 feet long, and thence through box-flumes to the several water stations in the center and eastern parts of the city. The Helena Ditch Company (Yaw Yaw) was commenced in 1864, and a flume eight miles long completed at a cost of $35,000. The capacity is 2,000 miners' inches, the supply being obtained from Ten Mile creek. The Helena ditch, twenty-one miles in length, also receives a 500-inch supply from Ten mile creek. This ditch was constructed at a cost of $85,000. The West Side Company furnished water to the central and western parts of the city. In October, 1884, Frank Wilkinson and John Dempster began work on what is known as the Underground Water Works, at Clore street, just north of Bridge street, for Mr. Chessman. Up to April, 1885, a thousand feet of tunneling was made under the city, and water pipe laid, through which a full supply of spring water is added to the old supply of the city. In May, 1885, a reservoir with a capacity of 100,000 gallons was constructed at a cost of about $10,000.
Page 1198: A. G. Clarke biography.
Page 1243: T. C. Power biography
Works for Helena," Helena Weekly Herald, October 28, 1886,
Mr. Woolston Heard in Connection with his Proposed Undertaking.
Will of the People," Helena Weekly Herald, November 18,
1886, Page 4.
The City Council Vote to Give Mr. Woolston the Contract for the Helena Water Works by a Handsome Majority.
1886 Ordinance No. 93. To Provide the city with water for fire, sewerage, and other purposes. November 22, 1886. Ordinance was declared to be unconstitutional as it created a monopoly, exceeded the city's debt capacity, and was not advertised.
News 16:330 (November 20, 1886)
At Helena, Mont., a $500,00 water-works system is to be put in at once. This is mainly due to the efforts of Mr. J. S. Dickerson, Atlanta, Ga., is discussssing the question of accepting the offer of the Newark Filtering Co. to put in a plant to purify the water supply for $54,975; it is probable that the offer will be accepted.
1887 Davenport et al., respondents, v. Kleinschmidt et al., appellants, 6 Mont. 502, February 10, 1887, Supreme Court of Montana Territory
New North-West (Deer Lodge, Montana), February 11, 1887, Page
The Supreme Court pronounced the Helena water ordinance void, on account of its creating a monopoly, and a debt beyond the charter limitation, and because the contract was let without advertising.
1887 Ordinance No. 95. Granting the use of the streets to George F. Woolston, for the purpose of laying and operating water mains. February 13, 1887.
River Press (Fort Benton, Montana), February 23, 1887, Page 1.
The Helena East Side Water company was sold out to a St. Louis company, represented by A. Lambeth. This will be an entire change of control, the only one of the old company retaining an interest being T. C. Power. The new company has purchased all the water rights of the old company, including those on Ten Mile.
Report of the Ohio Secretary of State
Page 391: April 13, 1887, incorporation of the Helena Water Company, Salem, Ohio. Capital stock $800,000.
News 18:302 (October 22, 1887)
Montana. - Helena. The new water-works being built by Turner, Clarke & Rawson, of Boston, Mass., under the Woolston franchise are under construction; pipe is being laid. The old company is extending its system.
and Gall," The River Press (Fort Benton, Montana), March 7,
1888, Page 1.
An investigation of the East Side Water companies pipe at the assay office yesterday revealed the fact that it was completely clogged with a mass of worms, rotten wood, bugs, creepers, weeds and dirt.
Hydraulics," Helena Weekly Herald, May 31, 1888, Page 8. |
Satisfactory test of the new water works yesterday [May 24]
All a Show," Helena Weekly Herald, November 29, 1888, Page
The City Council decides to let Woolston furnish two-thirds of the water supply, and agrees to distribute the other thrid among the East Side, West Side, and Chessman Companies.
1888 "Helena," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 1.
Water," The Independent Record (Helena, Montana), January
18, 1889, Page 4. B. P. Clark was probably Botsford R. Clarke of the
firm Turner, Clarke, & Rawson, which built the system for Woolston.
The Council accepts the Helena Water Company's bid to Furnish the City with Water One Year.
1889 Certificate of Incorporation of the Helena Consolidated Water Company, Helena, Montana. July 1, 1889.
1889 "Consolidated," Helena
Daily Herald, July 2, 1889, Page 6.
All the Water Companies of Helena Pass into Woolston's Control.
Yesterday articles of incorporation of the Helena Consolidated Water Company were filed with Secretary Walker, with George O. Freeman, A. J. Davidson, W. A. Chessman, A. R. Gates and C. J. Tooker, as incorporators. The capital stock is $1,500,000 divided into 15,000 shares of $100 per share.
This move is looked upon as the announcement that George F. Woolston has succeeded in securing the control of all the water companies in Helena. It has been whispered for some time that this was the purpose of Mr. Woolston's visit this season, and the latest developments tend to confirm this belief. It is said that Mr. Woolston will now go East directly to enlist capital for the purpose of putting the consolidated works in shape to supply the whole city.
Water Combine," Helena Daily Herald, July 27, 1889, Page 5.
| Also here
George F. Woolston buys up all the Helena Water Companies for $341,000 Cash and Stock in the New Company.
Council. Three Bids for a Water Supply Opened and Referred," Helena
Daily Herald, August 3, 1889, Page 5.
Bids received from George F. Woolston, T. C. Power, and Joseph Davis.
1890 Ordinance No. 248. To Provide the City of Helena and its Inhabitants with a Permanent Water Supply. January 15, 1890.
Water Works," The Independent Record (Helena, Montana) April
14, 1890, Page 1.
How the Queen City is Supplied with the aqueous for all purposes.
F. Woolston's Suit," The Independent Record (Helena,
Montana), June 24, 1890, Page 5.
A jury disagrees on his case against an old water company. The suit of George F. Woolston against Ben Benson and four other members of the West Side water company was on trial before a jury.
1890 "Helena," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 2.
Illustrated, Capital of the State of Montana: A History of the Early
Settlement and the Helena of Today
Page 6: Helena is supplied with pure, clear water, coming from a source in the mountains where the shades of the forest pines shelter the cool, copious springs issuing from under the snow line. From its source the water flows through sand and gravel—Nature’s best filter—and is distributed through the city by three water companies (now consolidated), at a cost of over $600,000, one company putting into their plant over $400,000. The price of water for private families is less than a dollar per month.
Page 10: HELENA’S WATER SUPPLY. The water problem has been a serious one for the people of Helena. Not that the supply has not been adequate, but Helena is building for the future, and fears have been entertained that our present sources of supply would prove insufficient for a city of 100,000 or more inhabitants. Until a short time ago water was furnished by three different companies, each having large plants, but a consolidation was effected and now The Consolidated Water Company furnishes the people with a bountiful supply of pure and wholesome water. No contract has as yet been made with the city by the new company, but the contracts with the old companies are still in force, so there is no danger of not having ample protection in case of fires. The water — there is none purer in the world — is collected and reservoired from mountain streams which are fed by snow, and is conveyed through the city by miles of mains and laterals to consumers at a cost not exceeding a dollar per month to a family. The new company contemplates an extension of its mains, putting in additional hydrants and the enlargement of its reservoirs, so it can be said that Helena’s future water supply is assured. Notwithstanding, there has been lately organized a new company, called the Lump Gulch Water Company, capitalized at $500,000. This company owns the water rights leading into Lump Gulch, a source of supply said by City Engineer Miller to be the best of all the sources surveyed by him.
1891 "George F. Woolston brings suit against Tom Power for $324,167 damages," Great Falls Tribune, April 4, 1891, Page 3.
1891 "Helena," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 3.
1892 Jesse Fishback Taylor, born January 2, 1828 in Kentucky; died May 5, 1892 in Great Falls, Montana.
1893 Horsky et al., Appellants, v. Helena Consolidated Water Company, Respondent, 13 Mont. 229, July 17, 1893, Supreme Court of Montana.
1897 Helena Consolidated Water Co., Respondent, v. Wm. L. Steele, Mayor, Etc, at al., Appellants, 20 Mont. 1, June 7, 1897, Supreme Court of Montana.
1897 "Helena," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 4.
Anaconda Standard (Anaconda, Montana), February 15, 1898, Page
Knocked down for $300,000. Only one bid for the Helena Water Works was received.
Record, 37:284 (February 26, 1898)
Helena, Mont.- Press reports state that the plant of the Helena Water-Works Company has been sold to a syndicate of Boston and New York capitalists for $300,000.
1898 George F. Woolston, born 1846 in De Kalb County, Iowa; died December 21, 1898 in New York City.
1899 Albert Gallatin Clark, Born April 7, 1822, Terra Haute, Indiana; Died December 23, 1899, Helena Montana. Involved in the Helena City Water Company with Jesse F. Taylor.
[1899?] The Helena Water Works, by John A. Cole, Vice-President, Helena Water Works Company.
Huntress Plaisted, Born March 13, 1821, Maine; died January 13,
1900, Philipsburg, Granite County, Montana
During the year 1866, he left Nevada and came to Helena where he associated himself with Mr. Truett and together they bought the Yaw Yaw ditch and constructed the Plaisted and Truett ditch. They operated these ditches for some time supplying water for placer mining, which was then at its best.
1900 Mayor, etc., of the city of Helena et al. v United States ex rel. Helena Waterworks Co., 104 Fed. 113, September 4. 1900, Circuit Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
1900 State of Montana ex rel. Helena Waterworks Company, Appt., v. City of Helena et al, Respts., 24 Mont. 521, December 17, 1900, Montana Supreme Court
Anaconda Standard (Anaconda, Montana), December 18, 1900, Page
A verdict for the city. Helena gets a decision against the Water Works Company.
1901 Transcript of Record, The City of Helena, Appellant, vs. The Helena Water Works Company, Appellee
Phase in Water Controversy," Anaconda Standard (Anaconda,
Montana), July 2, 1902, Page 3.
Notice served on City of Helena that unless certain conditions are complied with supply of water for fire and sewerage purposes will be discontinued.
Engineering 23:228 (September, 1902)
Helena, Mont. - Judge Noyes made permanent Aug. 20 the injunction issued last January restraining the city from building a water plant and selling water in opposition to the Helena Water Works company during the life of the company's franchise.
Taxes in Helena, Mont.," The New York Times, January 1,
1903, Page 1.
City Restrained from Spending Money, Decides Not to Collect. Because of an injunction secured by the Helena Water Works Company restraining the City Treasurer from spending any money for any purpose whatsover.
1903 City of Helena v. Helena Waterworks Co., 122 Fed. 1, March 9, 1903, Circuit Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
Engineering 25(5):402 (November, 1903)
Helena, Mont.- The citizens committee, appointed to appraise the property of the Helena Water Works company with a view to bringing about a sale to this city, fixes its value at $50,000.
on new water works system for Helena : Beaver Creek and McClellan
Creek supply, estimated cost, by James D Schuyler
Report of the proposed municipal waterworks for the supply of Helena, Mont., from Beaver and McClellan Creeks
1904 Helena Water Works Co. v. Helena, 195 U.S. 383, November 28, 1904, United States Supreme Court.
1905 Thomas A. Ray, Born March, 1829 in Kentucky; Died October 29, 1905, Helena, Montana. Involved in Helena City Water Company with Jesse F. Taylor and Albert G. Clarke.
of Two States Summoned by Death," San Francisco Chronicle,
October 30, 1905, Page 3.
Thomas A. Ray sucumbs to old age at his Helena, Mont., Residence.
Havre Herald (Havre, Montana, November 3, 1905, Page 7.
Thomas A. Ray died Sunday in Helena. He had been a resident of Montana since 1864. When Mr. Ray first arrived in Montana, he spent a year in buying cattle and then constructed Helena's first water system, building the conduits out of logs.
1908 Helena Water Works Co., Appellant v. Settles, County Treasurer, Respondent, 37 Mont. 237, May 18, 1908. Supreme Court of Montana.
1911 "Helena Taxpayers Will Not Buy Old Waterworks," The Salt Lake City Tribune, January 10, 1911, Page 11.
1911 State Ex Rel. City of Helena, Relator, v. Helena Waterworks Co. et al., Respondents, 43 Mont. 169, April 12, 1911, Supreme Court of Montana.
1911 "Helena Will Hold Water Bond Sale," Municipal Journal and Engineer 30:584 (April 26, 1911)
Question Settled," The Harlowton News (Harlowton, Montana),
June 30, 1911, Page 1.
Seventeen years of strife were ended today, it is believed, when Helena taxpayers voted to issue bonds in the sum of $400,000 for the purchase of the plant of the Helena Water Works company. The bonds were carried by a vote of 1,036 for and 204 against.
The plant it is purposed to buy was originally offered to the city fourteen years ago at a price of $1,300,000.
Gets Property," Great Falls Tribune, October 4, 1911, Page
Helena, Oct 3. - The property in this city and county of the Helena Water Works company was today formally turned over to the city of Helena. The $400,000o turned over to the water company representatives.
Its Story and Biography: A History of Aboriginal and Territorial
Montana and Three Decades of Statehood, Volume II, Under the
Editorial Supervision of Tom Stout.
Page 592: William Allen Chessman. Mr. Chessman is one of the rare few who were among the original California forty-niners. In that year he embarked on a sailing ship at New York, went around Cape Horn, and reached San Francisco December 20, 1849. He is still a member of the Society of California Pioneers. For a number of years he was interested in placer mining in that state, and on coming to Montana in 1865 continued mining. He bought some placer mines, subsequently some water ditches, and built a bed rock flume in Last Chance Gulch. At a cost of about $30,000 he equipped his plant with a hydraulic appliance. The water supply for the use of the mines around Helena came from different sources. July 1, 1889, the owners of the various ditches and water rights were consolidated under the Helena Consolidated Water Company, with Mr. Chessman as president. June 11, 1898, the company was reorganized as the Helena Water Company and in September, 1911, the property was bought by the City of Helena. Thus he had a very prominent part in developing the present public water system of the capital. Mr. Chessman served several years as vice president of the Peoples National Bank, and at one time was a director of the Montana National Bank.
1923 Thomas Charles Power, Born May 22, 1839, Dubuque, Iowa; Died February 16, 1823 Helena, Montana. U. S. Senator, involved in Helena City Water Company
1968 Whitcomb v. Helena Water Works Company, 444 P.2d 301 (1968)
2008 Tenmile Creek Water Supply Fuel Reduction Project, Final Environmental Assessment, Helena, Montana, December 2, 2008.
© 2017 Morris A. Pierce