Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography
Middle Atlantic States
New Jersey Hackensack

Hackensack, New Jersey

Hackensack was incorporated as a village in 1868 and as a city in 1921.

The Cherry Hill Gas and Water Company was incorporated in 1867 by Johannes Lienan, Godfrey W. Zingsem, Andrew D. Mellick, John J. Van Buskirk and Charles H. Voorhees "to supply the inhabitants of the village of Cherry Hill and places adjacent thereto with water and with gas."

The Hackensack Water Company was incorporated in 1869 by Richard R. Hawkey, John H. Banta, Garret Ackerson, junior, Eben Winton and Samuel Snellen "for supplying the village of Hackensack, and places adjacent thereto, with water sufficient for extinguishing fires, culinary and other family uses, watering the streets, and such other purposes as may conduce to the health and comfort of the citizens."

Charles H. Voorhis and Garrett Ackerson were competing entrepreneurs in Hackensack, and when it was decided to proceed with the project Voorhis subscribed for enough stock to gain control of Ackerson's Hackensack Water Company

The company's charter was amended in 1875 to allow it to supply "all that part of the county of Bergen which lies east of the Hackensack river with water."

Voorhis ran into financial difficulties after the 1873 financial crisis and the company was auctioned in 1880 to Bacot and Ward for $2,500 plus assumption of the company's debts.  They were unable to raise funds to expand the system, so sold it in 1881 to W.W. Shippen, Daniel Runkle, Julian H. Kean and Robert W. deForest, who rebuilt and expanded the system.

Water is provided by Suez North JerseyWikipedia page with company history.  United Water Resources, Inc. History

1867 An act to incorporate the Cherry Hill Gas and Water Company.  April 11, 1867. 

1869 An act to incorporate the Hackensack Water Company in the county of Bergen.  March 12, 1869.

1874 Centinel of Freedom (Newark, New Jersey), September 15, 1874, Page 3.
The Hackensack water works have been completed, and the town is now supplied with an abundance of water.  The reservoir is on Cherry Hill, five miles north of the town, and the supply is taken from the Hackensack river.  The reservoir is 195 by 135 feet, and is 16 feet deep.  It has a capacity of 3,000,000 gallons.  The supply pipe is 12 inches in diameter, and water can be forced through at the rate of 900,000 gallons every 24 hours.  It is probable that arrangements will be made to carry the water to Englewood, which is only three miles distant by way of what is known as the Diagonal road.  The company owning the works is known as the Hackensack Water Works Company, and has a capital of $100,000.  It is only a year since the stock was subscribed for, and since then the work has been pushed forward with great energy.  The total cost of the works is between $80,000 and $90,000.  The water has been analyzed by competent chemists and pronounced to be good.

1875 A Supplement to an act entitled "An Act to incorporate the Hackensack Water Company," approved March twelfth, eighteen hundred and sixty-nine.  April 8, 1875.

1880 Historical Topographic Manuscript Maps by C. C. Vermeule Around 1870-1887 | map 17 showing Hackensack and environs |

1880 "Sadly Muddled," The Camden Daily Post, June 15, 1880, Page 1.
The Hackensack Water Works to be sold for the creditors.

1880 The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, June 15, 1880, Page 2.
The Hackensack (N.J.) Water Works are to be sold for the benefit of the creditors of Hon. Chas H. Voorhis.

1880 Engineering News 7:212 (June 19, 1880)
The water-works of Hackensack, New Jersey, will be sold for the benefit of the creditors.  Among the chief creditors are Messrs. Robert Bacot and John F. Ward, civil engineers, who built the works at a cost of about $75,000, and to whom there is between $27,000 and $28,000 still due.  They offered to settle with the other creditors by paying them 30 per cent. of their claims, which the creditors agreed to, and the sale authorized by the Vice-Chancellor means that the water-works are to pass cheaply into the hands of Messrs. Bacot & Ward with a company reorganized on a fair business basis.  It is said that they contemplate laying pipes to Englewood to supply that village also.

1880 "A Republican Rascal," Quad-City Times, June 23, 1880, Page 4.
Chas. H. Voorhis, the New Jersey Republican Congressman in Arrest.

1880 The New York Times, August 20, 1880, Page 4.
The Hackensack Water-works, one of the corporations in Hackensack, N.J., operated and finally ruined by Congressman Voorhis, was sold on Wednesday to Bacot & Ward for $2,500, under the direction of the Hon. A.A. Hardenbergh, the Receiver appointed by Chancellor Runyon.  The purchasers assume the concern's indebtedness, about the legality of which there is some dispute.

1881 Thomas Douglas Hoxsey (1816-1881) grave

1890 Paterson, New Jersey: Its Advantages for Manufacturing and Residence: Its Industries, Prominent Men, Banks, Schools, Churches, Etc., by Charles Anthony Shriner
Page 312:  Thomas D. Hoxsey

1882 Camden Daily Courier, November 2, 1884, Page 1.
The gates through which Jersey City supplies Hoboken with water were closed yesterday morning  Hoboken has made a new contract with the Hackensack water company for a water supply.  Jersey City losses $80,000 per year by the change.

1882 History of Bergen and Passaic Counties, New Jersey
Page 186:  The Hackensack Water Company, in 1873 and 1874, constructed works to supply the village with water at a cost of $125,000. The water is pumped from the river into a reservoir on the heights of Cherry Hill, one hundred and twenty feet above the river, and thence is carried by gravity through the iron pipes. It is said to afford a purer supply than the Croton in New York.

1883 The Hackensack Water Company, Re-organized, et al., appellants, v. Minna De Kay, et al., respondents, 36 New Jersey Equity Reports 548, May Term, 1883, Court of Chancery of the State of New Jersey

1884 The New York Times, December 15, 1884, Page 8.
Judge Knapp, after argument by Corporation Counsel Brinkerhoff, has directed that judgment be entered for $3,900 against the Hackensack Water Company in favor of Jersey City.  Jersey City and the water company have made a three-year contract, under which the water company can draw a supply of water from Jersey City at the rate of $300 compensation per day.  While the water company was repairing the reservoir from which it supplies Hoboken, water was drawn from Jersey City for 13 days.  When Jersey City put in a demand for $3,900 for the 13 days service, the water company contended that as the water had been used for only a part of each of the 13 days the company was liable for only fractions of the daily rate of compensation.  Corporation Counsel Brinkerhoff urged the other view, and the court ordered judgment for the full amount claimed.

1885 Hackensack, Engineering News, 13:285 (May 2, 1885)

1886 "Remarks on the Aeration of Water," by Charles B. Brush, Scientific American Supplement 22(541):8641-8642 (May 15, 1866)

1886 The American Annual Cyclopedia and Register of Important Events of the Year 1886, Volume 26
Page 662:  Obituaries.  Ackerson, Garrett, Jr. 1840-1886

1887 "Purification of the Water-Supplies of Cities," by Albert R. Leeds, Journal of the Franklin Institute (Third Series) 123(2):93-107 (February, 1887)

1887 "Purification of the Water Supplies of Cities," by Albert R. Leeds, Scientific American Supplement 23(583):9309-9310 (March 5, 1887)

1887 "Hoboken's Disgrace," Jersey Journal, April 16, 1887, Page 4.

1887 "Hoboken in a Ferment," The New York Times, April 16, 1887, Page 2.
Water Register Murphy suddenly disappears, leaving behind him good reason to fear that he has defaulted with a large amount.

1887 "A Hoboken Water Works Commissioner Short," The Leavenworth Times, April 21, 1887, Page 1.

1887 Plainfield Evening News, July 14, 1887, Page 1.
A commission will be effected in a few days for the settlement of the deficiency of ex-Water Registrar Michael Murphy, of Hoboken.  It is said that the officers of the Hackensack Water Company are anxious to adjust the matter amicably, and that they have agreed to accept 40 percent. of the deficiency.  The bondsmen will not take any steps to prosecute Murphy.

1888 "A Pump Breaks Down," The Post (Camden, New Jersey), December 7, 1888, Page 1.
The high service pup at the Jersey City reservoir broke down again yesterday, and the city had to contract with the Hackensack Water Company, to furnish water to old Hudson City.

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

1889 The Evening World (New York, New York), February 16, 1889, Page 1.
Mr. Michael Murphy, Hoboken's defaulting Water Register, has opened a palatial gin-mill in Buenos Ayres.

1889 The Hackensack Water Company, Re-organized, v. The Mayor and Council of the city of Hoboken, 51 N.J.L. 220, March 25, 1889, Supreme Court of Errors and Appeals of the State of New Jersey

1890 The New York Times, August 9, 1890, Page 3.
Jersey City's water supply has become so scarce that the Water Board made arrangements yesterday with the Hackensack Water Company for s service.

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

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

1892 "The Hackensack Water Company," Scientific American 66(14):,214 (April 1, 1892) | also here |

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

1898 The Bergen County Democrat's History of Hackensack, N.J.
Pages 71-72:  The Hackensack Water Company was incorporated March 12, 1869, by Richarf R. Hawkey, John H. Banta, Garrett Ackerson, Jr., Eben Winton and Samuel Sneeden, and though owned and operated by Hackensack capital, it was never, as erroneously supposed by many people, owned or operated by the town or its commissioners, but has always been a private stock company.  The company became involved financially, and on March 1, 1879, Hon. Augustus A. Hardenburgh, of Jersey City, N. J., was appointed Receiver.
It was reorganized under its present name, "The Hackensack Water Company Reorganized," on September 4, 1880.  This company owns all the water rights on the Hackensack River above tide water at New Milford, where it has an extensive reservoir and high service pumping station. A new battery of boilers was recently added, and a new high service pump is under consideration. The company have about two hundred miles of large force mains, and have in use, at the present time, one high service pump with a daily capacity of ten million gallons; one of five million gallons and three of three million gallons each. They have two immense reservoirs at Weehawken Heights, one of eighteen million gallons and one of forty-five million gallons.
This company supplies Hoboken, North Hudson County and all Bergen County, where water is used. They have just completed a new 30-inch force main from the works at New Milford to Ridgefield, which will ultimately be carried to Weehawken Heights.  The present average daily consumption of water from this vast system is eight million gallons. This company has the most complete metered system in the country.
The river having its source in Rockland Lake, a large body of purest mountain spring water, and flowing through an exceptionally clear section of Rockland and Bergen counties, thus furnishes this great system with the purest possible supply of water.
The present officers are Robert W. De Forest, President; Myles Tierney, Vice President; Edwin A. Stevens, Treasurer; William Shippen, Assistant Treasurer and Secretary; W. F. Whittenmur, Chief Engineer; D. W. French, General Superintendent at Weehawken high service tower; William Smith is engineer in charge at Weehawken and James A. Fellenbaum engineer in charge at Englewood; Henry Quartly is collector at Hackensack: E. I. Fuchs at Englewood; and Charles F. Johnson at Rutherford.
The management of the company has been in every way satisfactory to its ever increasing list of consumers, and to the towns and cities it supplies with water for fire purposes and general corporation uses.

1900 History of Bergen County, New Jersey, by James M. Van Valen
Page 111:  The Hackensack Water Company.
This is a private enterprise operated by a stock company incorporated March 12, 1869. The incorporators were Richard R. Hawkey, John H. Banta, Garrett, Ackerson, Jr., Eben Winton and Samuel Sneeden. After ten years, the finances of the company running low, a receiver was appointed in the person of the Hon. Augustus A. Hardenburg, of Jersey City. The following year, under new conditions, it was reorganized and named "The Hackensack Water Company Reorganized."
The source of water supply is the Hackensack River, from which the water is taken at New Milford, about five miles above Hackensack. There are probably 200 miles of force mains, with three high service pumps of ten, five and three million gallons daily capacity, respectively. The two reservoirs at Weehawken Heights have a capacity of eighteen and forty-five million gallons each, while the average daily consumption is about 8,000,000 gallons. This water is comparatively pure, the source being Rockland Lake, which is fed from mountain springs. A new pumping service is soon to be in operation, with a capacity of 13,000,000 gallons daily.

1901 Robert Cochran Bacot (1818-1901) grave

1901 "Robert Cochran Bacot," The New York Times, April 13, 1901, Page 9.

1901 "Robert Cochran Bacot," The Washington Times, April 13, 1901, Page 6.

1902 "John F. Ward Dead," The Topeka State Journal, January 17, 1902, Page 5.
A Noted civil engineer for over forty years.

1902 "John Frothingham Ward," Engineering News 47:535 Supplement (January 23, 1902)

1911 Corporations of New Jersey: List of Certificates Filed in the Department of State to December 31, 1911
Page 280:  Hackensack Waer Company - New Milford

1920 Re Hacksack Water Company, February 17, 1920, New Jersey Board of Public Utility Commissioners
Rate increase denied, includes text of 1881 contract with Hoboken.

1922 History of Hackensack, New Jersey, by Frances A. Westervelt.  Reprinted from Hstory of Bergen County, New Jersey, 1630-1922
Pages 13-14:  The Hackensack Water Company is a private enterprise operated by a stock company incorporated March 12, 1869. The incorporators were: Richard R. Hawkey, John H. Banta, Garret Ackerson, Jr., Eben Winton and Samuel Sneden. In a few years, the finances of the company running low, a receiver was appointed in the person of the Hon. August A. Hardenburgh, of Jersey City, and then under new conditions the company was reorganized and named the Hackensack Water Company Reorganized. The source of water supply is the Hackensack river, from which the water is taken above the dam at New Milford, with two immense reservoirs at Oradell and Woodcliffe Lake, the larger one being at Oradell.  At New Milford, where the pumping station is located, the water passes through a filtration process for purification. Powerful pumps are in operation at the works to force the water through the miles of mains to the various municipalities in the county and outside that are supplied _by the company. The service was considerably improved in the past two, and the construction of a most substantial concrete dam at the Oradell reservoir was started last year.

1928 New Jersey; life, industries and resources of a great state, editor-in-chief Floyd W. Parsons
Pages 152-158:  Chapter VI. Public Utilities. Water
For convenience in considering water supplies, New Jersey may be divided into three parts.
First, the Northern Metropolitan District, comprising roughly the counties of Bergen, Passaic, Essex, Hudson, Union and Middlesex.
Second, the Southern Metropolitan District, comprising the counties of Mercer, Burlington, Camden and Gloucester, including the cities of Camden and Trenton.
Third, the rest of the State.

1941 Bergen county panorama: American guide series
Page 36: Water mains were introduced at Hackensack in 1869 by the Hackensack Water Company, whose reservoir on Cherry Hill was fed directly from the Hackensack River. But not many people abandoned their walls and pumps for the new system; in 1880 the company had only 40 customers. Seven years later the pipes had penetrated other towns, and today the company serves practically all the eastern half of the county from its reservoirs at Oradell and Woodcliff Lake. Several municipalities along the Erie Railroad through the west central section and to the north in the vicinity of Park Ridge have municipal systems or are supplied by adjoining boroughs. The Jersey City Water Supply Company serves North Arlington and Lyndhurst, and the Mahwah Water Company serves Hohokus Township.

1969 The Hackensack Water Company, 1869-1969, by Adrian Coulter Leiby

1976 "Old Water Company Seeks New Sources (Part 1 of 3)," The Post (Paramus, New Jersey), March 3, 1976, Page 16.

1976 "Water Company Grew During Bergen's Boom (Part 2 of 3)," The Post (Paramus, New Jersey), March 10, 1976, Page 2. | Part 2 - Page 8 |

1976 "Soaring Supply Demands Facing Water Company (Part 3 of 3," The Post (Paramus, New Jersey), March 17, 1976, Page 14.

1980 Hackensack Water Company Complex, National Register of Historic Places | pictures |

2003 The Hackensack Water Works, by Clifford W Zink

2018 A 19th Century Remnant of the Engineering Past Towers Over Weehawken

New Milford Plant of the Hackensack Water Company

Hackensack Water Company Complex in Weehauken, New Jersey

Hackensack Water Works Publications


2018 Morris A. Pierce