Documentary History of American Water-works

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Pacific States
Nevada Austin

Austin, Nevada

Austin was founded in 1862 and incorporated as a city in 1864.

The Austin Water and Mining Company was incorporated in California on October 19, 1863 by S. P. Whitman, W. C. James, A. Fonda, G. T. Knox and J. Gray.  They built a tunnel in the mountains above Austin and struck a large supply of water, but construction of nearby quartz mills destroyed the water source.

In 1864, William C. Harington, I. C. Bateman, John Frost, Felix O'Neil and J. Q. C. Wanderbosh were granted the exclusive right for fifteen years "to lay distributing water pipes in any of the public streets or alleys of the town of Austin."   They formed the Austin City Water Works bought the rights and property of the Austin Water and Mining Company and built a gravity system that began operating in October, 1864 using wood and later iron pipes.

Harrington's directory of the city of Austin for the year 1866, by Myron Angel, Page 14.

The Lander County board of commissioners, acting as a Town Board for Austin, purchased the Austin Water Company in November, 1938 for $3,000.

The Lander County Combined Sewer and Water District #2 was incorporated on November 14, 1969.

Water is provided by Lander County Sewer and Water District #2.

1863 Daily Alta California, October 20, 1863, Page .
Incorporations. Austin Water and Mining Company.- Location, Reese River, Nevada Territory.  Capital stock $440,000, in 4,400 shares.  Trustees:  S. P. Whitman, W. C. James, A. Fonda, G. T. Knox and J. Gray.

1863 "Better than Artesian Water," The Sonoma County Journal (Petaluma, California), December 4, 1863, Page 2.
Nevada papers mention a new and somewhat novel operation lately commenced by a company at Austin, Reese river, for the purpose of supplying that city with water, an article it greatly needs.  Acting upon the well ascertained fact that at a certain altitude springs of water invariably arise up with quartz ledges, the Austin Water and Mining Company have commenced tunneling the mountains back of Austin in search of the fluid, of which they expect to find large quantities.  In running a cut for the tunnel they struck a large stream, and will doubtless, as things appear, find enough before going much further, to supply a large population.

1863 Topographical Map of the Reese River Mines Located in the Vicinity of the Town of Austin, Lander County, N.T., by G. F. Allardt, Civil Eng.

1864 An act to supply the Town of Austin with Water.  February 16, 1864.

1864 Reese River Reveille, April 28, 1864, Page 2.
Sheriff's Sale of Austin Water and Mining Company to be held May 18, 1864.

1864 Reese River Reveille, September 28, 1864, Page 2.
Notice.  On and after Saturday, October First, 1864, all persons taking water of the Austin City Water Company, will be required to pay for the same Weekly in Advance.  All persons indebted to said Water Company, are notified to settle up on or before the first day of October, and save costs.  Richardson & Sons.  Austin, September 27, 1864.

1865 "The Austin City Water Works," Daily Alta California, September 2, 1865, Page 1.
The Austin City Water Works.  The Austin City Water Company was chartered by act of the Nevada Legislature, in the winter of 1863-'64, and incorporated in April following, with a capital stock of $500,000, divided into one thousand shares of $500.  Prior to this date, a Pioneer Company, without franchise, had made an effort to supply the city from a spring in an adjacent valley, but the construction of quartz mills in its immediate vicinity destroyed the water, and Company went to the wall.  Barring this interference with their programme, the other disadvantages under which they labored rendered success a doubtful point, and they disposed of whatever rights they had acquired prior to the new charter company.  The latter have a cluster of the finest springs I have ever seen.  They are situated on the mountain side, high enough to give one hundred and eighty-five feet fall at the International Hotel, and will afford a supply of water for a city of one thousand thousand inhabitants.
A short distance below the springs the company have constructed an immense reservoir, into which the water is conveyed by a flume  From the reservoir it is carried through the town (originally by a wooden) now by iron pipes, and families are supplied with an unlimited quantity, at a cost of from fifty cents to five dollars per week.
J. V. Bateman, Esq., the President, is now employed in completing such arrangements as have necessarily been imperfect heretofore.  When finished, the Austin City Water Works will not only prove a mine of wealth to the public generally, but to the holders of the charter.  With a little extra expense it can be so arranged as to furnish an abundance of water for irrigating all the gardens of the valley, and thus enable every family to raise their own vegetables and fruit.

1865 Manhattan Silver Mining Company of Nevada : report of Adelberg & Raymond

1866 "The Reese River Country," Harper's New Monthly Magazine, 33:26-44 (June, 1866)

1866 Harrington's directory of the city of Austin for the year 1866, by Myron Angel.

1866 Map of the State of Nevada, U.S. General Land Office.  Shows location of Austin in Lander County.

1877 An Act to extend the term granting to Isaac G. Bateman, and his associates and assigns, the right and grant conferred under and by virtue of an Act entitled "An Act to supply the Town of Austin with water," approved February sixteenth, eighteen hundred and sixty-four, passed at the third regular session of the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Nevada.  February 17, 1877.

1881 History of Nevada; with illustrations and biographical sketches of its prominent men and pioneers, by Myron Angel.
Page 467:  Water Company.  William C. Harrington, J. C. Bateman, John Frost, Felix O'Neil, J. Q. C. Vandenbosh, and others organized a water company; and on the sixteenth of February, 1864, the Legislature gave them a charter, granting exclusive privileges in supplying the town of Austin with water, the same to extend over a period of fifteen years. By an amendatory Act, passed February 17, 1877, this charter was made to cover an additional period of four years.
Page 475:  The water supply is procured from springs in the cañon, and is distributed by the Austin City Water Company.

1882 Austin, Engineering News 9:356  (October 14, 1882)

1882 Austin, from "The Water-Supply of Certain Cities and Towns of the United States," by Walter G. Elliot, C. E., Ph. D.

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

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

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

1893 An act to continue the right and grant conferred under and by virtue of an Act entitled "An Act to supply the town of Austin with water," approved February the 16th, 1864; passed at the third regular session of the legislative Assembly of the Territory of Nevada, for fifteen years from the first day of March, 1893  February 23, 1893.

1893 An act to authorize the Board of County Commissioners of Lander county to issue bonds to purchase the franchise and water works that supply the town of Austin with water.  March 2, 1893.

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

1906 "Entire Town is Poisoned," San Francisco Call, June 30, 1906, Page.
By drinking water from a rain barrel placed in the city by the Austin Water Company all the inhabitants of the town of Austin, numbering about 600 men, women and children, have been poisoned and are now being treated by physicians of neighboring towns.  Some of the people are in critical condition, and while no deaths have as yet occurred it is thought that many fatalities will result.
The water company placed the barrel in such a position that all the drinking water used by the inhabitants passed through it.  The result was that it became impregnated with turpentine, sulphide of lead, potassium and other poisonous chemicals.  Before this state of affairs was noticed the entire population of the town had been stricken.
Austin is situated in the eastern part of the State in desert country.

1906 "Water Poisons A Whole Town," San Francisco Chronicle, June 30, 1906, Page 2.

1935 "Austin to Seek Own Water System," Reno Gazette-Journal, August 31, 1935, Page 2.

1935 "Austin Votes Water Bonds," Reno Gazette-Journal, September 27, 1935, Page 11.

1935 "Austin Purchases its own Water System," Reno Gazette-Journal, November 23, 1935, Page 8.

1938 "Town of Austin to Regulate Water," Reno Gazette-Journal, May 13, 1938, Page 13.

1963 "Austin, Nevada 1862-1881," by Rodney Hendrickson Smith, M.A. Thesis, University of Nevada, Reno.  No library has been found that is willing to lend a copy of this thesis.

1982 "Austin and the Reese River Mining District:  Nevada's Forgotten Frontier," by Donald B. Abbe, PhD dissertation, Texas Tech University.
Page 197:  The Manhattan Company integrated its water system and reservoirs with those of the city to insure adequate fire protection for the entire town.  Thus the Austin Water Company, a private, franchised, venture received substantial aid from the Manhattan  Company,  another  private  venture. 

© 2017 Morris A. Pierce