|Introduction||Historical Background||Chronology||Geography||Biography||Technology||Ownership and Financing||General Bibliography|
Virginia City was founded during the 1859 silver boom and was incorporated by the Utah Territorial Legislature in 1861.
The California Company struck water while digging a tunnel in 1859, which in October was "furnishing the thirsty denizens of the aforesaid city with plenty of the aqueous fluid." Sometime between that time and 1861, water pipes were installed to distribute water to residents of Virginia City. In August, 1861, a newspaper reported that "Mr. Theller, of the Virginia City Water Company," was constructing gas works, and notes that "few interior towns of scarcely two years' growth can boast of complete water and gas works, and it is principally to the enterprise of Mr. Theller that our city is indebted for these benefits." "A. Theller" is also listed as the president of the Virginia City Water Works in the 1862 First directory of Nevada Territory. This was almost certainly Arnold Theller, who had been born in Hungary on February 8, 1823 and emigrated to America at age 24, arriving in New York City on January 6, 1848. He arrived in San Francisco on January 22, 1855 on the steamship Cortez by way of Nicaragua. He is listed as a "cigar maker" in the 1856 San Francisco Directory, and in 1858 was a partner of Julius Bornstein as "importers and wholesalers in wine and liquors." They declared insolvency in November, 1858, and Theller next appears with the Virginia City water works. He then returns to San Francisco as a dealer in mining-stocks, and in 1865 was a director of the Oakland and Alameda Water Company. On March 18, 1869 he married Sarah F. Perry in Omaha, and return to New York City where he was involved in the wine business. He lost a copyright suit over wine labels in 1889, died on December 17, 1899, and is buried in Greenlawn Cemetery in Brooklyn.
A bill to create the Virginia City Water Company was introduced to the Council of the Nevada Legislature on November 21, 1861, with incorporators listed as N. B. Eldred, S. A. Russell, Chas C. Conger, John H. Walson, and C. P. Robinson. The legislature adjourned on November 29th without acting on the bill.
Theller apparently sold the company to the Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company, which was incorporated on May 12, 1863 under the laws of the Territory of Nevada with a capital stock of $250,000, which was apparently increased to $1 million on December 8, 1864. This new company was a consolidation of the Virginia City Water Company and the Gold Hill Water Company (which may have been the Gold Hill Water Tunnel Company that had been formed in 1860). The company installed riveted wrought-iron pipes in August, 1863.
The Cedar Hill Water Company built a system that delivered water to the northern part of Virginia City in November, 1863. The Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company bought out most of the Cedar Hill Water Company in December, 1864.
An 1866 advertisement promoting stock in the Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company states that it is "incorporated under the laws of the State of New York," but this is problematic as they did not secure a charter from the legislature and New York's 1848 General Manufacturing Law did not include water supply as a recognized purpose. A general incorporation law for water companies was not passed until 1873, and manufacturing companies were allowed to engage in water supply under an 1884 amendment.
William Sharon bought a majority of the stock in the water company sometime after 1865, and sold them around 1871 before the big pipeline was built.
The water company ran into conflicts with the local community over its high rates and with other mining companies over water supplies. It lost a suit brought by the Cole Silver Mining Company alleging that the Water Company had purposely breached their water supply tunnel, which the Cole Company then used as a competing water supplier in Virginia City for some time.
The Water Company was nothing if not ambitious, and surveyed a route to secure a water supply from high sources in the mountains. Another Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company was incorporated in California on April 26, 1872 with a capital stock of $5,000,000 in 50,000 shares. The trustees were Alvinza Hayward, Joseph A. Donohue, James C. Flood, A. K. P. Harmon, Walter S. Hobart, John Skae, and James G. Fair. Prussian-trained engineer Hermann Schussler was engaged to design the pipeline, which involved an "inverse siphon" to cross the deep Washoe Valley, resulting in very high water pressures. An eight-mile-long riveted wrought-iron pipeline delivered water on August 1, 1873 and was considered an engineering marvel. Two more pipelines were added later to increase the supply.
The fabrication of the wrought-iron pipe is also of interest. The iron was imported from Scotland by the Glasgow Iron and Metal Importing Company of San Francisco in 3 by 10-foot plates or sheets, and came in ten different thicknesses, which in the was in the Birmingham gauge ranged from No. 16 (0.062 inch) to No. 0 ( 0.312 inch). George C. Johnson & Company of San Francisco furnished an estimated 952,900 rivets, which were of American manufacture but it not clear if they were made by Johnson & Co. or bought from other firms. The company's founder, George C. Johnson, died on May 19, 1872 and for many years was the Consul General for Sweden and his native Norway. The iron plates and rivets were delivered to the Risdon Iron and Locomotive Works, which fabricated the pipe. They cut each plate into thirds and rolled them into 3-feet sections of pipe fastened with a double row of rivets. About nine of the 3-foot sections were joined together using a single row of rivets, forming a pipe section of 26 feet 2 inches in length. A nipple and flange were riveted onto one end of each pipe, and sections were joined together in the field using five-inch wrought-iron rings that was sealed with lead. The length of the iron pipeline was 7 miles and 140 feet in length. Water was delivered to the pipeline from a diversion dam on Hobart Creek that fed a 4.62-mile wooden flume 20 inches wide and 18 inches deep. At the downstream end of the pipeline another wooden plume carried the water 4.04 miles to Five Mile Reservoir. From there a third wooden plume delivered water another 5.66 miles to tanks located above Gold Hill and Virginia City.
Each separate length of pipe was plunged and rolled about in a mixture of asphaltum and coal tar for 7 to 10 minutes before being shipped. The fabrication of the pipe commenced in March 1873. and it was in place and water was flowing 5 months later. The pipe was shipped to Reno on the Central Pacific Railroad and thence to Lakeview by the Virginia & Truckee Railroad, which had only completed the section from Reno to Carson City on August 24, 1872. The first section of pipe was laid June 11, 1873, and the last on the 25th of July of the same year. The laying of 7 miles of 12-inch pipeline over very rough terrain in just 6 weeks using only men and mules was obviously a remarkable feat,
A second pipeline roughly
parallel to the first was completed in 1875, but the supply furnished by
Hobart Creek provided inadequate so additional plumes were built to bring
water from Marlette Lake to the Hobart Reservoir.
Testimony in an 1874 court case revealed that there "two corporations of the name of "The Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company," doing business in the State of Nevada; one of the corporations, of which Alvinza Hawyard was president and C. Overton superintendent, being organized under the laws of the state of California; the other, of which John Skae was superintendent, being organized under the laws of the State of Nevada." Skae was involved in both companies, so it is possible that the Nevada firm was the one incorporated in 1862 and been kept active for some purpose.
Water service to Silver City was started in December, 1877.
In 1933 the company's name was changed to the "Virginia City Water Company." The Curtiss-Wright Corporation brought the water rights, storage facilities at Marlette Lake, Hobart Reservoir, flumes and pipelines, up to and including Five-Mile Reservoir from the water company on August 8, 1957 to support their missile testing program. Curtiss-Wright then transferred the water system to a subsidiary, the Marlette Lake Company, on December 2, 1957.
The missile testing program failed to materialize, and Curtiss-Wright offered the water system to the State of Nevada, which agreed to purchase the water system in 1963 for $1.65 million. The Marlette Lake System is now operated by the State of Nevada.
Storey County purchased the Virginia City Water Company in 1974 for about $170,000.
Water is provided by the Storey County Public Works Department, which buys water from the State of Nevada. A 2005 map and profile of the water system is shown below:
|Geologic and Natural History Tours in the Reno Area, by Joseph V. Tingley, Nevada Bureau of Mines & Geology, 2005, Page 73.|
1855 Sacramento Daily Union, January 22, 1855, Page 2.
Passengers. Steamship Cortes, from Nicaragua, Arnold Theller.
San Francisco directory for the year commencing October, 1856.
Page 218: Theller, A., cigar maker, rear of 32 Mont'y
San Francisco directory for the year 1858, by Henry G. Langley
Page 70: Bornstein (Julius) & Theller (Arnold), importers and wholesalers in wine and liquors, 139 Sansome
Page 266: Theller, Arundel, (Bernstein & T.) bds N s Green bet Dupont and Kearny
1858 San Francisco
Bulletin, November 26, 1858, Page 3.
Insolvency.- Julius Bornstein and Arnold Theller, of Bornstein & Theller, filed petitions for the benefit of the insolvent law in the Fourth District Court to-day. Their liabilities are about $7,238. The assets are nominally $3,000, but worth nothing.
1859 "The Charges against Bornstein & Theller," San Francisco Bulletin, October 7, 1859, Page 2.
Advertiser (New York, New York), November 2, 1859, Page 3.
Fraud and insolvency case of Julius Bornstein and Arnold Theller, who were partners in the liquor business in San Francisco.
San Francisco directory for the year beginning June 1859, by
Henry G. Langley
Page 266: Theller, Arundel, dwl 154 California.
Daily Union, October 27, 1859, page 2.
From Carson Valley. From a copy of the Territorial (Genoa) Enterprise, of Oct. 22d, we compile the subjoined intelligence: Water.- The California Company, at Virginia City, have just struck water in their tunnel. There is nearly a sluice head running from it at present, furnishing the thirsty denizens of the aforesaid city with plenty of the aqueous fluid. This recent breaking out of the water by perforating the earth to a moderate depth is a matter of great importance, and, we think, confirms our proposition in last week's issue, that Artesian wells will supply the great desideratum.
Alta California, 15 August 1860, Page 1.
A company has been formed at Gold Hill, and is now actively engaged in driving a tunnel for the purpose of collecting the water contained in the basin, between the mountain ranges. It is known as "the Gold Hill Water Tunnel Company," and was projected by Mr. Sabine, who is preparing powerful machinery for developing the undertaking. W. McMurray, C.E., has been appointed engineer of the work, and as a commercial speculation, it cannot fail to be highly remunerative.
1860 "A peep at Washoe," by John Ross Browne, Harper's New Monthly Magazine, 22:1-7; 145-162; 289-305 (December, 1860, January, 1861, and February, 1861)
Alta California, 21 August 1861, Page 1.
Gas Works in Virginia City.- Mr. Theller, of the Virginia City Water Company, is about to construct gas works in our city. He has contracted in San Francisco for generators, gasometers, pipes, and everything necessary for constructing the works. The gas is to be manufactured from pitch pine, which can be obtained in abundance in our vicinity. But few interior towns of scarcely two years' growth can boast of complete water and gas works, and it is principally to the enterprise of Mr. Theller that our city is indebted for these benefits.
Daily Union, November 18, 1861, Page 4.
Late from Washoe. In the Territorial Enterprise of November 13th we find the annexed: The tunnel of the sides company, which was commenced in February last, struck their ledge on Saturday, after running 1,550 feet. A thick vein of clay was passed through, adjoining which lay a vein of mingled clay and quartz, from which issued an immense stream of water, that has constantly increased in volume, until they have ben forced to suspend work. The William Penn and California tunnels have been completely drained, and there are queries about whether it will not affect the supply of the Virginia City Water Works.
1861 Draft of An act to create the Virginia City Water Company. [November 21, 1861?]. Thanks to the Nevada State Archives for providing this within a day of requesting it.
Daily Union, November 25, 1861, Page 8.
Carson City, (N.T.,) November 21st. Mr. Roor introduced an Act to create the Virginia City Water Company.
Daily Union, November 30, 1861, Page 4.
Carson City, (N.T.,) November 25th. The Act to create the Virginia City Water Company was postponed indefinitely. [Probably because the legislature adjourned on November 29th.]
directory of Nevada Territory. Containing: the names of residents in
the principal towns, a historical sketch, the Organic act, and other
political matters of interest, February, 1862, compiled by J.
Wells Kelly. | Also
Page 108: The Virginia City Water Company have laid their pipes through the greater part of the town, supplying from springs in the vicinity a sufficiency pure and wholesome water for all domestic purposes, while the tunnels furnish an inferior quality for the use of the mills, irrigation, etc. With this supply the health of the inhabitants will not suffer, as has heretofore been the case, from the use of bad water.
Page 165: Virginia City Water Works, A. Theller, President, office at Hirschman, Ottenheimer, & Co.'s
Daily Union, October 17, 1862, Page 3.
Good Water.- The pipes will soon be laid to conduct pure water to every part of Virginia City.
Census for Storey, Nevada.
Theller, A., Virginia City, Age 38, Sex M.
Water Company," Virginia Evening Bulletin, July 27, 1863,
The incorporation of a company for the purpose of supplying this city and Gold Hill with pure spring water constitutes an era is our history.
directory of Nevada Territory : embracing a general directory of
residents of all the principal towns ; business directory of
advertisers ; quartz mills, reduction works, toll roads, etc. ... Also
an accurate table of distances, list of public officers ; and
principal mining law of different districts ; with the residents and
principal mines, mills, etc. of the Reese River Region. by J.
Wells Kelly. Printed around August of 1863.
Page 166: The Virginia City and Gold Hill Water Companies have lately consolidated and laid their pipes throughout the town, supplying from springs in the vicinity a sufficiency of pure and wholesome water for all domestic purposes, while the tunnels furnish an inferior quality for the use of the mills, irrigation, etc. With this supply the health of the inhabitants will not suffer, as has heretofore been the case, from the use of bad water.
for Virginia City,"- Daily Alta California, August 24, 1863,
Page 1. Proposal to bring water 26 miles from Lake Tahoe.
A proposition has been made in the name of a company, including Eugene L. Sullivan, F. A. Woodworth, A. W. Von Schmidt, and others of San Francisco, to the Aldermen of Virginia, that the company will make the aqueduct and supply water, for certainly purposes, without charge, on condition of having a monopoly.
River Reveille, September 9, 1863, Page 4.
The Water Company in Virginia, N. T., are extending their works. A new reservoir, of the capacity of 16,000 gallons, has been created, and 1,800 feet of additional water-pipe had been laid down.
Tahoe Water Company," Virginia Evening Bulletin, September
12, 1863, Page 3.
Proposal from Lake Tahoe and Nevada Water Works Company to supply Virginia City with water from Lake Tahoe.
Tax Lists for Nevada Territory
Arnold Theller, Virginia City, September 21, 1863
New Water Company," Virginia Evening Bulletin, November 30,
1863, Page 3.
The Cedar Hill Water Company have at last succeeded in bringing their water within the northern limits of the city. To enable them to accomplish this they have had to construct two miles of wooden boxes, which have been laid in a trench to receive them.
The members of the Cedar Hill Water Company are W. A. Bourne, W. Wilson, O. C. Steel, and Simon Whitehead.
Daily Appeal, January 31, 1864, Page 2.
Good Pay.- The receipts of the Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company, says the Virginia Union, for the past half year, amounted to $47,386. Its expenditures for the same period amounted to $15,016-leaving a balance on the credit side of their account amounting to $32,370. There are 1,000 share of stock in this water company, among the holders of which nearly $30,000 has been paid in dividends, besides $5 per month which is paid regularly on each share of stock.
City Water Works," Virginia Evening Bulletin, May 14, 1864,
We are informed that at the next meeting of the Board of Aldermen the important question of granting to the Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company an exclusive privilege of supplying the city with water for twenty-five years will be before them.
Alta California, May 21, 1864, Page 1.
Water Ordinance.- The Virginia Union advises their Common Council against the policy of granting an exclusive franchise to the Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company. It denounces it as a monopoly.
Daily Appeal, June 1, 1864, Page 2.
A new company has been formed for conducting the water of Summit Lake into Virginia City, a distance of forty miles-the work contracted to be finished in 160 days.
1864 San Francisco
Bulletin, July 22, 1864, Page 2.
New Water Company in Washoe.- The Alta Lake Company, lately formed at Virginia City, say that a full supply of pure water, sufficient for domestic, mill, and mining purposes, can be brought into Virginia, Gold Hill, Silver Hill, and American Flat, for the sum of $350,000, from a source so near as to require but 23 miles of flumes and ditches.
San Francisco directory for the year beginning October, 1864,
by Henry G. Langley
Page 385: Theller, Arundel, mining-stocks, office 538 Clay, dwl 522 California
Virginia Water Company," Virginia Evening Bulletin, December
9, 1864, Page 3.
The Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company have purchased two-thirds of the Cedar Hill Water Company's Works and water, and will have arrangements made as soon as possible to increase the supply of water for the city. We are glad to hear it, as the supply at present is altogether too small.
Guide and Directory for Virginia City, Gold Hill, Silver City and
American City, Compiled by Charles Collins
Virginia and Gold Hill Water Co.
The following gentlemen are the Trustees : John Skae, O. G. Funk, J. W. Gashwiler, M. M. G. Ross. The officers of the company are, N. H. A. Mason, President ; John Skae, Vice President ; C. G. Funk, Secretary and Treasurer ; J. W. Gashwiler, Superintendent. The company, during the past year, have made improvements and enlarged their facilities for supplying the city with an abundance of water ; reservoirs (or tanks) have been erected at convenient distances, and easy of access, which, from the abundance of water, are always kept full.
Another company is about to be incorporated for the purpose of bringing water from Lake Tahoe. It is a great undertaking, but, when completed, will make fortunes for its projectors ; and as American enterprise recognize no barriers that labor and capital can overcome, we may expect in a short time to revel in the luxuries of an abundant supply of fine water from the crystal depths of this beautiful natural reservoir.
1865 "Where we get our
water," Gold Hill News, March 2, 1865. [Reprinted on page 13 of The
Marlette Lake Water System: A report on the feasibility and
desirability of its retention, February 1969.]
First was organized a company styled the Virginia Water Company, and subsequently another called the Gold Hill Company, each affording a limited supply of water to the different towns. But on the 12th of May, 1862, the Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company was first incorporated, being a consolidation and enlargement of each of these companies.
1865 "Washoe Revisited, Part 1," by John Ross Brown, Harper's New Monthly Magazine 30:691-696 (May, 1865)
1865 "Washoe Revisited, Parts 2 & 3," by John Ross Brown, Harper's New Monthly Magazine 31:1-12; 151-161 (June, 1865 and July, 1865)
1866 Prospectus of the Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company
and Gold Hill Water Company," Baltimore Clipper (Baltimore,
Maryland), April 12, 1866, Page 3.
The company is incorporated under the laws of the State of New York, and the works have been in successful operation for upwards of three years. They are in perfect working order, and do not require any further outlay, except such as may be necessary for ordinary wear and tear.
Officers: J. W. Van Auken, Esq., President.
W. T. Coleman, Esq., of W. T. Coleman & Co.
W. W. Cope, Esq., late Judge Supreme Court of Cal.
Wm. Bond, Esq., Pres't of the Quicksilver Min'g Co.
J. W. Van Auken, Esq., 73 William street, N.Y.
Secretary: W. R. Garrison, Esq.
Bankers: Messrs. Lees & Waller, 33 Pine street.
Clipper (Baltimore, Maryland), April 12, 1866, Page 5.
We have received a "proof" copy of the prospectus of the Virginia City and Gold Hill Water Company, whose advertisement appears in another column. The Works of this Company have been in most successful operation for upwards of three years. It being no new scheme, we feel no reluctance in recommending it to the consideration of our readers.
1866 Weekly Alta
California, April 14, 1886, Page 2.
The Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company have purchased the water which was struck a short time since in the Globe Tunnel, American Flat, and have laid over a half mile of pipe to convey it into Gold Hill. At present there is one hundred inches of water running out of the tunnel.
1867 Weekly Alta
California (San Francisco, California), February 2, 1867, Page 6.
Badly Injured.- On Saturday evening, W. T. Wright, Superintendent of the Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company, was thrown from his horse, and the horse falling upon one of his legs, it was very badly broken in two places.
1866 Map of the State of Nevada, U.S. General Land Office. Shows location of Virginia City in Storey County.
Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company," from Annual
Report of the Surveyor General of the State of Nevada for the year
Page 43: The company was formed by a consolidation of the Virginia and Gold Hill Water works, on the twelfth of May, 1863, and incorporated under the laws of the Territory of Nevada. Its capital stock is $1,000,000, in 10,000 shares of $100 each.
1868 Virginia and Gold Mill Water Company Stock Certificate for John Skae, January 25, 1868
1868 San Francisco
Bulletin, December 2, 1868, Page 1.
The Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company are constructing a new water flume from the head of Bowers's Ravine to the upper end of Gold Hill. This flume is designed to conduct pure fresh water from a new tunnel that is being run by the company at the head of the ravine, into the pipes which are used for supplying the town of Gold Hill. Most of the work is completed, and the flume in plane along the mountain side to a point nearly opposite the Bullion works. But a few days will elapse before the water is turned on.
1868 San Francisco
Bulletin, December 19, 1868, Page 1.
The Virginia and Gold Hill water Company completed December 17th the new flume which is to supply the inhabitants of Gold Hill with an abundance of pure spring water from the head of Crown Point ravine. A tunnel is being run by the company some 400 feet in length to tap the spring, and it is hoped that the volume of water will be greatly increased. A large tank or reservoir has been constructed on the Divide, and in the event that more water is obtained from the spring then will be necessary to supply Gold Hill the balance will be brought into Virginia.
1869 San Francisco
Chronicle, May 16, 1869, Page 3.
Virginia, May 15th.- The Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company have struck an additional supply of water, which will measure thirty to forty inches.
Daily Union, July 15, 1869, Page 2.
The following officers of the Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company were elected yesterday; Trustees - William Sharon, John Skae, J. M. Douglas, N. H. A. Mason, C. B. Smith. N. H. A. Mason, President, and C. B. Smith, Secretary.
1869 San Francisco
Chronicle, August 13, 1869. Page 3.
Great complaints are being made against the Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company, because of the extortionate rates charged by this monopoly for water. Recently these rates have been nearly doubled. If these exorbitant charges are continued, it is probable that the citizens will help themselves rather than submit to such extortion.
1869 San Francisco
Chronicle, September 9, 1869. Page 3.
In consequence of the scarcity of water, the Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company are preparing to pump the water out of the Mexican shaft to be used by the quartz mills; this will give a larger supply to the public.
1869 San Francisco
Bulletin, December 30, 1869. Page 3.
The Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company have commenced laying iron pipes from the Ophir works to their reservoir on the hill above the city.
1870 San Francisco
Chronicle, February 5, 1870. Page 3.
The Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company are laying another flume to Gold HIll, to conduct the new supply of water recently struck by them in the old Nevada tunnel.
1870 Weekly Alta
Vista, August 6, 1870. Page 7.
The Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company's tunnel, at American Flat, is now 9900 feet in length. They are in a formation of clay and boulders, and the indications of striking a good vein of water are very promising.
1870 Sacramento Daily
Union, September 2, 1870, Page 1.
The Cole Silver Mining Company, from whose tunnel most of the water used in Virginia comes, has taken steps to furnish the city with water themselves, their lease with the Virginia & Gold Hill Water Company, having expired.
1870 San Francisco
Chronicle, October 22, 1870, Page 1.
Water Supply Stopped by Eels. Two very large eels got into the Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company's pipes day before yesterday, and completely shut off the supply of water from the north end of the city. As a result, the dust blows in clouds through the streets.
1870 Sacramento Daily
Union, November 18, 1870, Page 2.
Virginia, Nov. 17.- This morning the Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company stuck a stream of water, measuring 20 inches, in one of their Cedar Hill tunnels.
1871 San Francisco
Chronicle, February 19, 1871, Page 1.
Our Water Troubles. The public generally of this place were much gratified to learn on Monday last that Judge Sawyer of the United States Court has granted the junction asked for by the Cole Company against the Virginia and Cold Hill Water Company. The Cole Company had a stream of water running from their tunnel, with which they were about to supply the city; the Water Company ran in under them, tapping and draining them. The Cole Company applied to the court for an order upon their adversaries to construct such a bulkhead as would restore the water to the original channel, some thirty feet above the Water Company's tunnel, and the court granted the order. The extortions of the old company have been so great that they have no friends in the town, and everybody rejoices that they have come to brief.
San Francisco Directory for the year commending April, 1871.
Page 278: Glasgow Iron and Metal Importing Co., William Crindle manager, 21 and 23 Fremont
Page 354: Johnson, George C., (George C. Johnson & Co.,) and Consul General for Sweden and Norway, office 33 and 35 Battery, dwl Occidental Hotel.
Johnson, George C. & Co., (George W. Gibbs and Robert C. Johnson) importers and jobbers iron and steel, 33 and 35 Battery
Page 439: McCrindle, William, manager Glasgow Iron and Metal Importing Co, 21 Fremont, dwl 128 Perry
Page 552: Risdon Iron and Locomotive Works, SE cor Beale and Howard
Risdon, John N. (Main St. Wharf Co.) and president Risdon Iron and Locomotive Works, SE cor Beale and Howard, dwl 1119 Pine
Page 9 of Advertising Department: Display ads for The Risdon Iron and Locomotive Works and Glasgow Iron and Metal Importing company.
1871 Sacramento Daily
Union, July 19, 1871, Page 2.
The Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company are completing their surveys with a view of bringing in a full supply of water from some of the fine streams emptying into Lake Tahoe. The distance as per survey is about fifty miles, and the water is to be conducted by flume and iron pipes.
1871 San Francisco
Bulletin, July 27, 1871, Page 2.
The Nevada Enterprise now says the Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company will not draw water for its new aqueduct from streams empting into Lake Tahoe, but from a small lake some distance from Tahoe, which is to be converted into a reservoir.
1871 Weekly Alta
California, August 5, 1871, Page 3.
The iron pipe which will be used by the Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company for conveying the water a portion of the distance from near Lake Tahoe to Virginia, will be nearly eight miles in length, to cross the greatest point of depression on the route. It will be twelve inches in diameter, and made of wrought iron, double riveted, and in sections of sixteen feet each. The Enterprise says that the company have purchased a lake lying to the eastward of Lake Tahoe, which is a mile in elngth and covers several hundred acres of ground. This lake is fed by streams, and at the lower end, where the water is to be taken out, a dam several feet is height will be built, making the lake an immense reservoir. Mr. Fair will go to San Francisco shortly to contract for the iron pipe required. To complete the work will cost over half a million dollars.
Cole Silver Mining Co. v. The Virginia and Gold Hill Water Co. et al.,
1 Sawyer. 470, October, 1871, U.S. Circuit Court, District of Nevada.
Trespass not excused by plaintiff’s incapacity. One who has trespassed upon water rights acquired by a mining company will not be allowed to defend on the ground that the mining company had no legal capacity to acquire water rights. "As between the party despoiled and the wrongdoer the courts will not enter upon this inquiry.
Diversion of water enjoined to extent of requiring affirmative acts by bulk-heading tunnel. While excavating a tunnel for mining purposes the complainant struck a seam in the rock, from which flowed a stream of water, which it claimed and appropriated. Subsequently, defendants ran a tunnel into the mountain to a point below complainant's tunnel and drained the latter, and the defendants thereupon appropriated the water: Held, that complainant was entitled to an injunction to restrain such diversion and appropriation by defendants even though it should be necessary for defendants to fill up, or build a water-tight barrier across their tunnel to accomplish the end sought.
1872 "Virginia and Gold
Hill Water Company," San Francisco Chronicle, April 27, 1872, Page
The Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company was incorporated yesterday. Object, to purchase and hold water rights, to buy lands for site for works and reservoirs for supplying mills, etc., with power in Storey and Lincoln counties, Nevada, and selling water for domestic uses. Capital stock, $5,000,000, in 50,000 shares. Trustees- Alvinza Hayward, Joseph A. Donohue, J. C. Flood, A. K. P. Harmon, W. S. Hobart, John Skae, James G. Fair.
1872 New Daily Appeal
(Carson City, Nevada), October 25, 1872, Page 3.
Water Pipes.- Yesterday there was a large number of heavy iron pipes, made of boiler plate strongly riveted together, with broad flange cast iron couplings, planed and plumbed for use. These pipes are a foot in diameter, were loaded in New York and shipped through to the Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company.
Buyers' Manual and Business Guide: Being a Description of the Leading
Business Houses, Manufactories, Inventions, Etc., of the Pacific
Coast, Together with Copious and Readable Selections, Chiefly from
Page 124: Glasgow Iron and Metal Importing Company, under the management of Mr. William McCrindle.
1873 Sacramento Daily
Union, June 25, 1873, Page 3.
The twelve-inch pipe manufactured by the Risdon Iron Works for the Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company, will measure eight miles.
Engineering on the Pacific Slope," Mining and Scientific Press
27(24):376-377 (December 13, 1873) | PDF of
Virginia and Gold Hill Water Works - Iron pipe under a vertical pressure of 1,720 feet - a great undertaking working successfully.
M. Little, Appellant, v. The Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company,
Respondent, 9 Nev. 317, August, 1874, Supreme Court of Nevada.
During the progress of the trail of this case it appears from the testimony that there were two corporations of the name of "The Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company," doing business in the State of Nevada; one of the corporations, of which Alvinza Hawyard was president and C. Overton superintendent, being organized under the laws of the state of California; the other, of which John Skae was superintendent, being organized under the laws of the State of Nevada.
Water Privileges," Oakland Tribune, August 17, 1875, Page 3.
Oakland and Alameda Water Company, certificate September 26, 1865. To supply the city of Oakland with water. Director Arnold Theller.
1875 "The Water Works of Virginia City, Nev.," Engineering News 2:139 (October 15, 1875)
Engineering Triumph," from History of the Big Bonanza: An
Authentic Account of the Discovery, History, and Working of the World
Renowned Comstock Silver Lode of Nevada, by Dan DeQuille [William
Page 231: Early in the spring, when the snow was melting, they afforded a considerable supply; but in the summer, when water was most needed, the tunnels furnished but feeble streams and these were much impregnated with minerals, one of the least feared of which was arsenic. The ladies rather liked arsenic, as it improved their complexion; made them fair and rosy-cheeked – almost young again, some of them.
1876 Map of Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company's Lots, Gold Hill, Storey County, Nevada
1877 An act to legalize certain contracts made by the Mayor and Board of Aldermen of the city of Virginia, Storey county, State of Nevada, and the Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company, of the same place, and for the issuance and sale of bonds for the payment of said indebtedness thereby incurred. January 22, 1877.
Act to repeal an act entitled, "An act to legalize certain contracts
made by the Mayor and Board of Aldermen of the city of Virginia, Storey
county, State of Nevada, and the Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company,
of the same place, and for the issuance and sale of bonds for the
payment of said indebtedness thereby incurred," approved January
nineteenth, eighteen hundred and seventy-seven. January 30,
Sec. 2. The Secretary of State is hereby directed and required to exclude from publication, in the volume of laws to be published of the eighth session of the Nevada Legislature, the Act hereby repealed. [oops!]
of Aldermen," Territorial Enterprise (Virginia City,
Nevada), September 19, 1877, Page 3.
Contract between the City and the Water Company.
of Aldermen," Territorial Enterprise (Virginia City,
Nevada), October 10, 1877, Page 3.
Alderman Bitter's Report on the Contract with Water Company adverse to the Signing of an Agreement.
1877 Sanborn maps for Virginia City and Gold Hill, Nevada
1879 An Act supplemental to an act entitled, "An act to legalize certain contracts made by the Mayor and Board of Aldermen of the city of Virginia, Storey county, State of Nevada, and the Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company, of the same place, and for the issuance and sale of bonds for the payment of said indebtedness thereby incurred," approved January nineteenth, eighteen hundred and seventy-seven. January 24, 1879.
Skae" The New North-West (Deer Lodge, Montana), February 14,
1879, Page 1.
Having made considerable money in stock speculations he invested largely in the Virginia City Water Company, and in 1867 was able to travel to Europe with his two sisters, having an assured income of $16,000 a year.
1879 "The City's Contract for a Supply of Water," Virginia Evening Chronicle, November 19, 1879, Page 3.
States Annual Mining Review and Stock Ledger: Containing Detailed
Official Reports of the Principal Gold and Silver Mines ... for the
Page 155-156: Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company. Gold Hill and Silver City are also supplied by the same company, as are all the mills situated along the line of the Comstock.
1880 "Description of Virginia City and its Inhabitants. Water Company," from Ten Years in Nevada: Or, Life on the Pacific Coast, by Mary McNair Mathews
of Nevada, edited by Myron Angel, published by Thompson and
Page 588: The Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company was the nucleus of the company which afterwards merged in the present Company. In 1865 the Trustees were John Skae, C. G. Funk, J. W. Gashwiler, M. M. G. Ross. Officers: N. A. H. Mason, President; John Skae, Vice-President; C. G. Funk, Secretary and Treasurer: J. W. Gashwiler, Superintendent.
Pages 600-602: The Water Supply.
Mining and Miners, by Eliot Lord | also here
Page 70: Old scraps of lead and water-pipes were melted and cast in bullet-molds.
Page 323: A second Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company was incorporated under the laws of California in 1871, which purchased all the rights and franchises of the first-named company. Mr. Sharon sold the stock which he held in the new company before the plan of Schussler was executed, while Mr. Floor bought stock in the same company and urged forward the projected works to completion.
1882 Geology of the Comstock Lode and the Washoe District, with Atlas, by George Ferdinand Becker
1882 The Mines, Miners and Mining Interests of the United States in 1882, by William Ralston Balch
1882 Virginia City, Engineering News 9:156 (May 13, 1882)
1882 Virginia City, from "The Water-Supply of Certain Cities and Towns of the United States," by Walter G. Elliot, C. E., Ph. D.
a Bonanza King," The New York Times, July 18, 1885, Page 5.
Johnny Skae died in poverty and obscurity. The telegrapher who learned a cipher, made $10,000,00 by speculation, most it, and became a pauper.
1885 Famous American
Fortunes and the Men who Have Made Them: A Series of Sketches of Many of
the Notable Merchants, Manufacturers, Capitalists, Railroad Presidents,
Bonanza and Cattle Kings of the Country, by Laura Carter Holloway
Pages 123-128: James C. Flood.
Pages 520-525: Colonel James C. Fair.
Pages 774-778 : "Johnny" Skae, Shortly after he began to deal in stocks he obtained the management of the Virginia and Gold Hill Water-Works, a company that at one time paid almost as good dividends as the minds which they supplied.
1886 "Wrought-Iron Conduit Pipes," by Hamilton Smith, Jr., Engineering News 16:399 (December 18, 1886)
1888 "Virginia City, Gold Hill, and Silver City," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 1.
1889 Myers v. Theller et al, 38 Fed Rep 602, May 7, 1889, Federal circuit court, southern district of New York. Suit for Arnold Theller's infringement of copyright for a label.
1889 Carson, Nevada USGS Topographical Map, showing Virginia City and Marlette Lake area
1889 A history of the Comstock silver lode and mines, by Dan De Quille
1890 "Virginia City Gold Hill, and Silver City," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 2.
1891 "Virginia City," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 3.
1897 "Virginia City," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 4.
story of the mine as illustrated by the great Comstock lode of Nevada,
by Charles Howard Shinn
Page 59: Water pipes were melted into bullets.
Pages 102-104: Story of the 1873 water pipeline.
1901 Huhna v. Theller, 35 Misc. Rep. 296, June, 1901, New York Supreme Court, Appellate Term. Suit for payment of Arnold Theller's funeral expenses.
of Comstock Dies in this City Last Night as a Result of Paralytic Stroke,"
Reno Gazette-Journal, September 27, 1909, Page 8.
Captain J.B. Overton. Prominent in Moulding Destiny of Great Mines at Virginia Answers Final Summons.
1913 "Water Supply of the Comstock," from The History of Nevada, Volume I, edited by Sam P. Davis
1914 "Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company, Schedule of Water Rates," Biennial Reports of the Railroad and Public Service Commissions of Nevada
the matter of the application of Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company, a
corporation, and The Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company, a
corporation, for an order authorizing the sale of property and the
issuance of common stock. Decided April 5, 1922.
California Public Utilities Commission.
The articles of incorporation of Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company show that it was organized on or about April 26, 1872. The company can not extend its charter and therefore those in control have caused The Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company to be organized for the purpose of purchasing and acquiring all of the properties of Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company.
The new company was organized under the laws of the State of California, on or about March 16, 1922, with an authorized capital stock of $1,000,000.
and Orders, Nevada Public Service Commission
Page 209: The Virginia City Water Company, a Nevada corporation, and the Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company, a California corporation, having made joint application for the issue and transfer to the Virginia City Water Company of the certificate of public convenience and necessity heretofore issued to the Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company.
And it appearing that The Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company has heretofore owned an operated the public business of furnishing and
Wonderlode of Silver and Gold, by Miriam Michelson.
Page 70: The water company was a good-looking Hungarian, Theller, who with his two-fauceted kegs lashed to a pack saddle, came all the way from Ophir Raving to peddle water by the bucketful; he and Weimer, who ran a pack train from a spring below the Sierra Nevada Mine.
a Narrative of the Conquest of a Frontier Land: Comprising the Story
of Her People from the Dawn of History to the Present Time,
Volume I, James Graves Scrugham
Pages i-xxx: Contents and Index
Page 282: Just two years before the great fire, in August, 1873, there had been great rejoicing and a celebration over the completion of a remarkable achievement in hydraulic engineering bringing to Virginia and Gold Hill a supply of pure mountain water from the Sierra Nevada Mountains. From the source of supply about a thousand feet higher than Virginia City an iron pipe was laid dropping down into the Washoe Valley and then raised by means of an inverted syphon to an elevation above Virginia and Gold Hill. The pipe was about seven miles long and at its outlet the water was delivered into a flume through which it flowed twelve miles to Virginia City. (An interesting story of this achievement is found in William Wright's History of the Big Bonanza.) But through lack of hydrants, proper pressure in the mains, and adequate equipment, the full efficiency of this system was not available at the time of the fire.
1940 "How The Water Flows Up Hill to Virginia City," by Hamilton L. Hintz, The Sacramento Bee, October 19, 1940, Page 39.
1943 The history of the Comstock Lode 1850-1920, by Grant H. Smith.
Engineering Works Contributory to the Comstock, by John Debo
Galloway, University of Nevada Bulletin 41(5) (July 1947)
Page 63: The Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company had been reorganized in 1872, Mr. Sharon having sold the old company to the new one. The new company had as directors Walter S. Dean, W. S. Hobart, John Skae, John Mackay, James G. Fair, James C. Flood, and W. S. O'Brien. The latter four became in a few years the Bonanza Firm, but in 1871 they were men of but moderate wealth. Mr. J. B. Overton had been the superintendent of the water company and was retained in that capacity in charge of the project of water from the Sierra Nevada.
1950 The Literary
Apprenticeship of Mark Twain, by Edgar M. Branch
Page 116: The character John William Skae, who constantly pops up in Mark Twain's imaginary adventures, foreshadows later traveling companions.
1963 Marlette Lake Co. v. Sawyer, 79 Nev. 334, 383 P.2d 369, July 3, 1963, Nevada Supreme Court
Marlette Lake Water System: A report on the feasibility and
desirability of its retention, February 1969
Pages 13-20: History of the Water System
Page 19: In 1933 the company's name was changed to the "Virginia City Water Company."
Page 21: Acquisition of the Water System by the State of Nevada
Pages 55-59: Water Service for Virginia City, Gold Hill, and Silver City.
Pages 67-72: Carson Water company
story of the water supply for the Comstock: including the towns of
Virginia City, Gold Hill, and Silver City, Nevada, together with other
water-related events for the period 1859-1969, by Hugh A.
Shamberger, Nevada. Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources,
Geological Survey Professional Paper 779
Pages 24-25: General Map of the Water Works System of the Virginia and Gold Hill Water Co., 1913
of the Ponderosa: how Washoe Valley rescued the Comstock, by
Myra Sauer Ratay
Pages 17-43: Chapter III. Water - Precious as Gold.
1974 "Virginia City Water System to be sold," Reno Gazette-Journal, March 17, 1974, Page 36. Tentative price $170,000.
1974 "Virginia, Nevada, 1859-1890 : a study of police, water, and fire problems," by Thomas Harold Kinnersley, Ph. D. dissertation University of California, Los Angeles 1974
Twain's Notebooks and Journals 1855-1873
Page 316: John William Skae, superintendent of the Hale & Norcross mine in 1863 and part-owner of the Virginia City and Gold Hill Water Works, made and then lost two fortunes by speculating in Nevada silver mine stocks. As Edgar Branch pointed out, Skae "constantly pops up in March Twain's imaginary adventures"
1981 Review of the Marlette Lake Water System and Proposals for sale or the System or Water from the System to Carson City, Background paper 81-7
1992 Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company System, National Register of Historic Places Inventory
Roar and the Silence: A History of Virginia City and the Comstock Lode,
by Ronald Michael James
Pages 59-60: The Virginia City Water Company laid pipes "through the greater part of town" by 1862, boasting a source of drinkable spring water, but complaints about its poor quality remained rampant during the early history of the Comstock."
1998 The History of the Comstock Lode, 1850-1997, by Grant Horace Smith with new material by Joseph V. Tingley
2006 "Old mining town had elaborate gravity-powered water system," Reno Gazette-Journal, August 20, 2006, Page 4.
Infamous King of the Comstock: William Sharon and the Gilded Age in
the West, by Michael J. Makley
O D Wheeler, Flumes and Fluming Operations in Western Nevada
Better Nature: Environment and the Making of San Francisco, by
Philip J. Dreyfus
Page 109: Alexis von Schmidt. In 1863 while von Schmidt was still serving as an engineer for Spring Valley he also sat on the board of directors of the Lake Tahoe and Nevada Water Company. In that capacity he proposed to Virginia City's board of aldermen that water from Lake Tahoe could be pumped over the hills at Carson City and through the Washoe Basin to a storage reservoir on Mt. Davidson, from which it could be piped to the towns and mines of the Comstock Lode. The aldermen rejected the proposal on account of the high cost of pumping water to Virginia City's lofty six-thousand-foot elevation, although exactly a decade later, Hermann Schussler actually effected the plan with the backing of "silver king" James Flood of Nob Hill fame. [Note: Schussler used gravity to deliver water with no pumping involved.]
2010 Virginia & Gold Hill Water Company, Comstock Historical Marker No. 14, 130 South B St., Virginia, City, NV
Water Works - Virginia City & Gold Hill, Nevada.
The Virginia and & Gold Hill Water Company (abbreviated as “the Company” or “V&GHWC”) was incorporated in Nevada Territory in May 1863 to supply water to the Virginia City and Gold Hill populations, mines, and mills. The first trustees were N.A.H. Mason, J.W. Gashwiler, John Skae, C.G. Funk, and Richard Rising. By 1865 the Trustees were Skae, Funk, Gashwiler, Mason and M.M.G. Ross. Gashwiler served as the first company superintendent. In this and subsequent corporate iterations, all shares of stock were owned by a very limited number of individuals who also served as members of the Board of Trustees.
By the late 1860s the V&GHWC was looking for new water sources outside the immediate Virginia City area but options were limited. To fund the planned expansion The Company reorganized in 1871; the new owners were John Skae, Walter S. Dean, W.S. Hobart, John W. Mackay, James G. Fair, James C. Flood, and W.S. O’Brien.
Gold: The Newark Overland Company's Trek to California, 1849,
by Margaret Casterline Bowen and Gwendolyn Joslin Hiles | Also here
(subscription required) |
Pages 292-297: Chapter 25. The Last Scandal. John B. Overton.
2017 Comstock Lode, including information on the The Virginia City and Gold Hill Water Company
2017 “World’s greatest cat painting” sells for $826,000. Includes information on George C. Johnson, whose company supplied the rivets for the 1873 pipeline.
Records of the Virginia and Gold Hill Water Company are held by the University of Nevada Reno. Includes agreements for water acquisition from individual mines in the Comstock Lode, correspondence, financial statements, and invoices for supplies.
Olin Dunbar Wheeler
© 2017 Morris A. Pierce