Documentary History of American Water-works

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

Short Hills, New Jersey

Short Hills is an unincorporated community in Millburn Township, Essex County, New Jersey that was founded in 1870 by Stewart Hartshorn.

The water works in Short Hill was built around 1879, using a steam engine to pump water from springs into a reservoir using a steam engine.

The company stock was purchased by the Commonwealth Water and Light Company on October 30, 1929, and was merged into the Commonwealth Water Company in 1932.

Water is provided by New Jersey American Water

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

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

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

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

1900 Twenty-Fourth Annual Report of the Board of Health of the State of New Jersey
Page 280:  Short Hills - The water-supply for Short Hills is furnished by the Short Hills water works, and the plant was constructed in 1878.  The pumping capacity is 2,500,000 gallons.  Water is pumped to a stand-pipe, having a capacity of 100,000 gallons.  There is ample storage capacity for large quantities of water, but not more than one or two-days' supply is kept in storage.  The water is pumped from artesian wells directly into the surface pipes and reservoir.  Pressure varies from 40 to 120 pounds.  Matres are employed where large quantities of water are used.  Sewage is carried to a disposal field, and is there cared for by downward filtration.  A small part of Springfield and of Millburn is supplied with water by the Short Hills Water Company.

1901 "The Short Hills Water Plant," Fire and Water Engineering 30(13):351 (September 28, 1901)
The Short Hills Water company has its new plant at its watershed on the boundary line between Millburn and Springfield, Essex county, N. J., just below the overflow dam of the old factory pond. The pumphouse is a frame building twenty-four by forty-four feet in dimensions and fifteen feet high to the rafter plate. The pumps are to be placed on solid beds of masonry, as it is claimed better pressure can be obtained in that way.

1929 "Public Service Issue Approved," The Record (Hackensack, New Jersey), November 7, 1929, Page 18.
Transfer by the Short Hills Water Company of its entire capital stock, consisting of 1,046 shares of common, to the Commonwealth Water and Light Company, was approved.

1932 "State Approves Merger of Three Water Companies," The Courier-News (Bridgewater, New Jersey), January 5, 1932, Page 4.
Merged into Commonwealth Water Company, which became a subsidiary of the American Water Works and Electric Company in 1922.

1946 Little history of the Short Hills section of Millburn Township, N.J. developed by Stewart Hartshorn, by Cora L. Hartshorn, July 31, 1946
Pages 7-8: Water and sewage were primary needs and my father became expert in his constant search for springs and waterbearing lands. The farmers said "Dump a pail of water with a frog in it in front of Stewart Hartshorn, and you can sell him land anytime." He had an unusually keen eye for grades and their rhythmic beauty and designed his roads around the hillocks, with water and sewage problems in mind, when nearby villages were cutting roads straight up hills.
The first pump house, built about 1879, was in the bottom of the bowl which is now covered by the present Short Hills Club lake; water was pumped by steam from there to the first reservoir on top of the hill, east of Highland Avenue, where Mr. Whaley's house now stands, then a darn was built along Lake Road and another at Parsonage Hill Road, forming two lakes known as North and South America, which later were enjoyed for swimming and skating.
Sand filters were built in the bottom of the Club lake and carried under the dam into a reservoir to the south of it, where another pump house was built. Later pump houses and reservoirs were built south of the railroad on the Hartshorn homestead property, and still later, on the water bearing lands between Millburn and Springfield, where a number of Artesian Wells were driven.
Short Hills was plentifully supplied with pure water, and by 1886 the "water works" were pumping water through one mile of pipe to the service reservoir at an altitude of 150 feet, which fed about 5 miles of main pipes. At that time there were about 50 services with a consumption of 30,000 gallons a day; there were 2 hydrants and meters were just being installed.
Early Water Works
My father owned at that time large tracts of land controlling an undefiled watershed, always a hobby of his; and he considered that a daily water supply of 1,000,000 gallons could be easily developed.
Besides the needs of Short Hills, the "water works" supplied Springfield, Elizabeth, and a small section of Millburn.
Aside from the practical problem of supplying water for his village, he took keen interest in making ponds for beauty alone; beauty in all aspects of nature was a vital interest to him as were all forms of creative expression.
He used to say he wished to attract nature-loving people to his little village, as he found such people had taste and initiative. His Short Hills Water Company was sold to the Commonwealth Water Company of Summit, New Jersey, on October 30, 1929.

2018 Morris A. Pierce