Documentary History of American Water-works

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Middle Atlantic States
New Jersey Rahway

Rahway, New Jersey

Rahway was incorporated as a city in 1858.

The Rahway Water Company was incorporated in 1859 by Joseph T. Crowell, Thomas H. Shafer, Joseph S. Smith, Patrick Clark, and Samuel Williams "to supply the city of Rahway with good and wholesome water, in quantities sufficient for all the purposes which may conduce to the safety of said city, and to the health and comfort of the citizens."  This company did not build anything.

The City of Rahway was authorized to build water works in 1869 and constructed a system that began operating in 1871 by pumping water from the Rahway River through cement-lined wrought-iron pipes.  The Worthington engine pumped directly into the mains with a pressure controller that was alleged to infringe on Birdsill Holly's patent.  This pressure controller was removed and the system continued to operate without it.

Patrick Clark took charge of the city's water works in June 1, 1879 and installed a water filter in June, 1880 that is considered the first mechanical filter installed in America.  Later that year Clark was one of the incorporators of the Newark Filtering Company.

The Rahway water works are owned by the City of Rahway, which contracts with SUEZ Water Rahway to manage and operate the system.

1859 An act to incorporate the Rahway Water Company.  March 8, 1859.

1868 An Act to authorize the construction of works for supplying the city of Rahway and places adjacent with pure and wholesome water.  April 7, 1868.

1870 A Supplement to the act entitled "An Act to incorporate the Rahway Water Company," approved March eighth, eighteen hundred and fifty-nine.  March 1, 1870.

1871 A Supplement to an act entitled "An Act to authorize the construction of works for supplying the city of Rahway, and places adjacent, with pure and wholesome water," approved April seventh, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-eight.  April 6, 1871.

1873 A Supplement to an act entitled “An act to authorize the Construction of Works for supplying the City of Rahway and places adjacent with Pure and Wholesome Water,” approved April seventh, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-eight.  March 25, 1873.

1873 Water Supply: Address to the Citizens of South Bend by a Majority of the Committee; the Different Systems Considered.
Page 10: Already an injunction hangs, like a pall, over nearly completed infringements at Rahway, N.J.

1875 B. Holly's system of water supply and fire protection : for cities and villages.
Page 25:  Suits have been instituted on this account against Rahway, N. J., and Union City, Ind., which are being prosecuted to an issue with all possible despatch. Numerous other localities, which are guilty of infringements, will be held to a strict accountability.

1876 Scientific American 34(12):186 (March 18, 1876)
(18) C. F. L. says: Our town authorities are talking of supplying the town with water by a  pump or water ram, from a stream 1,000 feet distant to a hill 115 feet high, thence from a reservoir by pipe, 800 feet, to the streets,and up and down the streets, 2,000 feet more or less. The town is from 80 to 100 feet below the hill. Will pipes from the reservoir under that head be sufficient to put out fire, or would it be better to attach a large force pump to one of the water wheels and force the water through pipes to different parts of the town?
A.The town of Rahway, N. J., and several other places are provided with what is said to be a very economical and effective system of water supply. It consists of a stationary engine supplying a certain number of millions of gallons of well water per day, at a certain pressure agreed upon, and which is at all times sufficient to force the water to the upper stories of the houseb in the most elevated sections of the town. This is known as the Holly system, and would probably suit you better than any other. In case of fire the pressure is maintained at its maximum by means of the control obtained through the stationary engine. Write to Holly Manufacturing Company, Lockport, N. Y.

1876 The Worthington Steam Pumping Engine: History of Its Invention and Development, by Henry R. Worthington
Page 192:  In fact his Engines have already been applied to several direct system works.  The one at Rahway, New Jersey, furnished in the year 1871, has not once suffered from interruption or failure.  At the time of its erection, the engineer in charge put on a regulating apparatus intended to obviate sudden changes of pressure.  The Holly Company attacked this appliance as an infringement of their patent; upon which it was withdrawn without producing any trouble in the working of the Engine, which thus proves to be well adapted to the liabilities of this particular service.

1880 State, Ex Rel. The Board of Water Commissioners of the City of Rahway, v. Robert C. Brewster, Treasurer of the City of Rahway, 42 N.J.L. 125, November Term. 1879, Supreme Court of New Jersey

1879 Rahway Weekly Advocate and Times, December 20, 1879, Page 2.
Our ingenious townsman, P. Clark, Esq., has constructed a water filter, one of which he has introduced into the City Water Works, which is a great improvement on any heretofore made. Most persons who have employed a filter for domestic use, have found its value lessened by the deposition of sedimentary matter on its inner surface. Unless frequently cleansed the filter becomes clogged or the silt, unable otherwise to escape, is forced through the filter, thus destroying the value of the appliance.  For these reasons many persons have discontinued the use of such articles entirely, and prefer accepting the water in its natural state to the care and trouble of keeping a filter in good working order.
Tho improvements made by Mr. Clark obviate all the above-mentioned objections.  His new filter clears itself of all impurities, as it separates them from the water. By an ingenious arrangement the silt and sediment which accumulate in ordinary filter», are carried away by a separate flow of water, and thus tho instrument never becomes foul and cannot become clogged. We believe Mr. Clark thinks of securing a patent for his filter, though he proposes to allow the city tho free use of its advantages, having, as we said, already introduced one into our Water Works, at which place he would be pleased to explain its workings to any one interested in such matters.

1880 Rahway Weekly Advocate and Times, November 13, 1880, Page 3.
We are informed that a patent has been granted to our townsman, Patrick Clark, Esq., for an improvement in filters similar to the one built by him for our Water Works about sixteen months ago, and which during that time has furnished the city with unobjectionable water.  The improvement being fundamental is considered valuable by by those who are competent judges.  [Clark had filed an application for a patent on October 18, 1880, which was granted the following June.]

1881 "Water," by Patrick Clark, Rahway Weekly Advocate and Times, May 7, 1881, Page 1.
It's various relations to animal and vegetable life, and especially to mankind when living in large numbers on limited areas of the Earth's surface.
The writer took charge of the Rahway water-works on the first of June, 1879. The pumping station is on the north branch of the Rahway river, which furnishes a minimum supply of ten million gallons of water every twenty-four hours. The works have no reservoir or stand pipe, but pump directly against the mains. Two duplex compound engines are used alternately month about each engine being capable of pumping one and one-half millions every twenty-four hours.  The daily consumption of the city is about five hundred thousand, but the amount for short periods occasionally runs up to on million gallons. The water remaining in the reserve pumps and mains always became grossly offensive at the end of three or four days after the stoppage of the pumps. In June, 1880, a sand filter was placed between the works and the river. The result was that the water remaining in the idle pumps and mains at the end of a month was sweet and palatable.

1881 "Water," by Patrick Clark of Rahway N.J., Morning Journal and Courier (New Haven, Connecticut), May 13, 1881, Page 1. | also here |

1881 Rahway, Engineering News, 8:414 (October 15, 1881)

1882 Between the Water Commissioners of the City of Rahway, Complainants, and The City of Orange, Defendants, October 18, 1882.

1882 Rahway, from "The Water-Supply of Certain Cities and Towns of the United States," by Walter G. Elliot, C. E., Ph. D.
Page 226:  New Jersey.  Rahway: Filtering apparatus:  Clark filter, 16 feet square; sand, 6 inches deep, on fine-wire cloth; cleaned once in 24 hours.

1882 History of Union and Middlesex Counties, New Jersey: With Biographical Sketches of Many of Their Pioneers and Prominent Men, by W. Woodford Clayton
Page 253:  Rahway Water Supply.—An act to authorize the construction of works for supplying the city of Rahway and places adjacent with pure and wholesome water was approved April 7, 1868. It enacted that A. Maurice, J. Henry Stone, James Vanderhoven, John H. Durand, and the mayor of the city for the time being should constitute the first board of water commissioners, who for and in the name of the mayor and Common Council of the city of Rahway were authorized to take and hold any lands or other real estate necessary for the construction of any canals, aqueducts, reservoirs, basins, or other works for raising, conveying, or containing water, or for the erection of any buildings or machinery, or for laying any pipes or conduits for conveying the water into or through any places, or to secure and maintain any of the works, or in general to do any other act necessary or convenient for accomplishing the purposes contemplated by the act. Nothing having been done previous to March 6, 1871, to carry out practically the provisions of the act, and some modification of the plan being deemed desirable, it was then enacted that the board of water commissioners shall consist of five members, of which board the mayor, or acting mayor, and the chairman of the committee on the fire department of the Common Council of the city of Rahway for the time being shall be members ex officio, and the remaining three members of the board shall be elected as hereinafter mentioned.
The first board of water commissioners, in addition to the ex officio members, shall be composed of Jacob R. Shotwell, De Witt C. Hough, and Benjamin R. Miller. The board was duly organized, and the works constructed and put in operation. The Rahway water-works may be briefly described as follows:
The pumping station is located on the North Branch of the Rahway River, at the point where the ancient Indian path leading from Amboy to Elizabeth Point crossed, the stepping-stones used by the Indians being visible as late as 1856. The branch here is capable of a mean daily supply of nine million gallons of water. The city has no reservoir, the works pumping directly “against the mains.” The building inclosing the works is a substantial brick structure about fifty feet square and two stories high. The Machinery consists of two duplex compound condensing engines (direct-acting) capable of pumping three million gallons every twenty-four hours. They are supplied by two forty-eight-inch horizontal tubular boilers.
The present consumption of water in the city is one million gallons every twenty-four hours. There are twelve miles of mains, along which are distributed one hundred and thirty hydrants, used in extinguishing fire without the use of fire-engines of any description.
The board are Joseph W. Savage, President; C. L. Woodruff, Superintendent; W. Updyke Selover, | Samuel Leonard, James T. Melick, Lineus High.
The water is filtered by an improved filter (a very ingenious contrivance), invented by Patrick Clark, engineer of the Rahway gas-works.

1885 Report of the Rahway Board of Water Commissioners for the year ending December 31st, 1885, including rules, regulations, water rates, etc.

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

1890 Rahway Savings Institution v. The Mayor and Common Council of the City of Rahway, 53 N.J.L.48, November 6, 1890, Supreme Court of New Jersey

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

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

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

2016 Order Approving a Public-Private Contract between the City of Rahway and Suez Water Environmental Services Inc., Docket No. WO17020135, State of New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. September 23, 2016.

2017 Order Approving a Public-Private Contract between the City of Rahway and Suez Water Environmental Services Inc., Docket No. WO17020135, State of New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. April 21, 2017.

© 2015 Morris A. Pierce