Documentary History of American Water-works

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

Salem, New Jersey

Salem was first settled around 1675, incorporated as a township in 1798 and as a city in 1858.

The Salem Water Company was incorporated in 1857 by R. M. Acton, Thomas Sinnickson Jr., B. Acton, J. Tyler, Joseph Petit, J. N. Cooper, and S. C. Harbert "to supply the town of Salem with good and wholesome
water, in quantities sufficient for all the purposes which may conduce to the safety of the town of Salem and to the health and comfort of the citizens."  This company did not build anything.

After several attempts to move forward with a water system, local residents voted for a system on September 21, 1880 by a margin of 521 to 121.  The council formed a water committee that contracted with the Holly Manufacturing Company for a system which was successfully tested on May 24, 1882.

Water is provided by the City of Salem.

1857 An act to incorporate the Salem Reservoir and Water Company.  March 20, 1857.

1882 Salem, N.J. from Engineering News 9:436 (December 23, 1882)

1883 History of the counties of Gloucester, Salem, and Cumberland New Jersey, with biographical sketches of their prominent citizens, by Thomas Cushing and Charles E. Sheppard
Pages 390-391:  The Salem Water-Works. In 1857 a charter was obtained authorizing the organization of a company to be known as the Salem Water Company, with capital of thirty thousand dollars, with liberty to increase it to fifty thousand dollars, the shares to be twenty-five dollars each. It does not appear that anything of importance ever resulted from this movement.  Several later agitations of the water question led to nothing practical. One notable effort to obtain a water-supply for Salem was made in 1868. The figures, however, frightened the people, and the waterworks question was allowed to sleep the "sleep of death" for years.
In the year I880 the question was again taken up.  Messrs. Charles W. Casper, M. P. Grey, W. Graham Tyler, and several citizens accidentally met one day, and the conversation in some way drifted to waterworks, and the three then and there resolved to agitate the question once more, and if possible push the matter to a successful ending. In some way the "water-works fever" spread, and when the first waterworks meeting was held in the Council chamber, on Monday evening, Aug. 23, 1880, it was well attended by prominent and representative citizens. Different systems of water-works were discussed, and the Holly system was recommended by an agent of the Holly Manufacturing Company, of Lockport, N. Y., who was present. The matter was not allowed to rest here, and those who took part in the first meeting got up a petition and presented it to the City Council at its meeting held Aug. 26, 1880.
The Council unanimously adopted a resolution authorizing the holding of an election on Sept. 21, 1880, as to whether the city would avail itself of the act of 1876, entitled "An Act to enable cities to supply the inhabitants thereof with pure and wholesome water."
The result was five hundred and twenty-one for and one hundred and twenty-one against. Majority for water-works, four hundred.
At the next meeting of City Council, held Friday evening, September 24th, a resolution was adopted calling for the appointment of a Water Committee, to consist of the mayor, two councilmen, and two citizens, with power to inspect water-works of other cities and ascertain what system of water-works could he most profitably used in Salem, aud report the result of their examination to Council. The gentlemen composing that committee were B. F. Wood, mayor, Councilmen C. M. Eakin and George V. Anderson, and Messrs. Charles W. Casper and W. Graham Tyler.  This committee reported to the City Council Feb. 26, 1881, presenting an estimate of the probable cost of constructing suitable water-works for Salem, the sum named being $75,163.90, and favoring Laurel Run, near Quinton, as a source of supply.
The new City Council first met March 15th, and at that meeting it was unanimously decided to build water-works, the work to commence as soon as possible. The new Water Committee was also appointed, as follows: B. F. Wood, mayor, chairman; Councilmen C. M. Eakin, George V. Anderson, William H. Lawson. J. C. Belden, Jr., Charles W. Casper, and W. Graham Tyler.
The committee appointed Isaac S. Cassin, of Philadelphia, engineer of the works. The Water Committee awarded the contract for building water-works to the Holly Manufacturing Company, of Lockport, N. Y., and the Common Council approved their action.
The land for reservoir, engine-house, etc., having been secured at Laurel Run, it was surveyed July 11th. The first shovelful of dirt toward the progress of the works was thrown that day. The work of building the dam and reservoir was commenced in a short time after the survey was made.  The work of laying the pipe was continued through the winter, and the works were completed in April, 18882.  As soon as the works were completed the mains for two weeks were subjected to a fire-pressure of one hundred and twenty pounds, so as to ascertain the "bad pipes."  There were comparatively few leaks. The formal testing of the works look place on Wednesday, May 24th, in the presence of a large number of people, with a highly satisfactory result. Their capacity was found to be 1,054,080 gallons per twenty-four hours.
The water-works are under the control of a Water Committee, consisting of Mayor C. S. Lawson and Councilmen Benjamin F. Wood and Charles W. Casper, who have the general management of affairs connected therewith.  Their introduction and successful operation was gladly hailed by all enlightened and enterprising citizens, and their convenience and utility for manufacturing and domestic uses receive almost hourly recognition.

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

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

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

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

2017 Morris A. Pierce