Documentary History of American Water-works

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Middle Atlantic States New York Gouverneur

Gouverneur, New York

Gouverneur was incorporated as a village in 1850.

The Gouverneur Water Works Company was organized in August, 1867, and built a Holly water works system that began operating on December 11, 1867.  The company was incorporated in 1868.  The system's three original Holly rotary pumps were replaced in 1878 with Green rotary pumps. 

The Village of Gouverneur built new water works in 1890 that began service in January, 1891 pumping water with steam engines into a standpipe.

Water is provided by the Village of Gouverneur.

1867 "Water Works Meeting," The Gouverneur Times, August 15, 1867, Page 3.

1867 "Gouverneur Water-Works," The Gouverneur Times, December 12, 1867, Page 2.  Includes a poem on the water works written by George G.B. De Wolf.
The Governeur Water Works Company have put in two of Holly's Patent Turbine Water Wheels, and three of his Rotary Pumps, which are now operating to the entire satisfaction of all. They were tested yesterday, under very unfavorable circumstances, the water in the river being lower than ever before known.
Still they performed more than could have been expected considering the head - only 42 inches, and continually running down. They held a pressure of 65 lbs. to the square inch, as indicated by the steam gauge, throwing through short elbows (another disadvantage, as the hose purchased by the Company did not arrive in time for the trial,) two one-inch streams to the height of 105 feet. The Company's guarantee is, to throw four one-inch streams 80 feet high, with a head of 8 feet. That this machinery will perform all that its makers claim for it, there is not a shadow of doubt.
Mr. G.W. Hamilton, the erecting Engineer, is a gentleman, and a mechanic of rare ability. He has spared no pains to complete the works, not only in the shortest time, butt in the best possible manner. He was also called upon to lay the river pipe, which operation, though not in his direct line, he performed in a skillful manner, and although the cast-iron pipe proved as he predicted it would, - entirely worthless for the river use, - no blame could be attached to him. He has since put down wrought-iron pipe in its place, and it can now safely be said that the Gouverneur Water Works Company is in every respect a perfect success. There is also attached to these wheels and pumps, an improved regulator, which 'takes care' of them in the absence of the engineer or operator, regulating the speed of the wheels and the pressure of the pumps in as accurate a manner as possible, whether there is a large or small amount of water escaping the pipe.
We would invite the people of our neighboring villages to examine these works, feeling confident that they will have no hesitation in pronouncing them the best protection against fires, and at the same time reducing their rates of insurance. They can also have a supply of ready running water in their dwellings and yards. The Holly Manufacturing Company are the parties to furnish the machinery, and Mr. Hamilton is the man to put it up.

1868 "From Ogdensburg," Rochester Democrat, January 27, 1868, Page  2.
At Gouverneur we found the people rejoicing over some new Water Works, just introduced from Lockport. In this village of three thousand inhabitants, the running stream is made to force the water all through the streets, to supply the houses and to extinguish fires. The Lockport man was here who erected the works, which seem to possess great power.  The machinery regulates itself. If the stream is running low, the enginery is so adjusted as to raise the gates and let in more water, so as to send a more powerful current through the town. If the pressure becomes greater than is needed, the same machinery quietly shuts the gate partly down again, and the pressure on the pipes is proportionately reduced. Why is not this much better than a fire engine for any village, where there is a stream of water sufficient to drive the necessary machinery?

1868 An act to incorporate the Gouverneur Water Works Company.  April 17, 1868.

1869 B. Holly's System of Fire Protection and Water Supply for Cities and Villages, Third Edition
Page 118: The third set of Water Works, constructed by the Holly Manufacturing Company, was for the small but enterprising and thrifty village of Gouverneur, N.Y.  
The Oswegatchie river runs through it, separating it into two parts. Upon an island in the river, a building was erected, 20 by 24 feet, and two stories high. In the lower, or basement story, two of Holly's 72 inch Patent Turbine Water Wheels, of 75 horse power each, are placed, and in the story above, three of his Patent Elliptical Rotary Power Pumps, of capacity to throw, by their united power, 1,500 gallons per minute, or 2,100,000 gallons every twenty-four hours. The water pipes Irom the island to the shore banks, on either side, rest upon the bed of the river. The water varies from extreme shallowness to a depth of some fifteen feet, and the bottom quite irregular. The pipes were laid without coffer dams, and by means of ball-joints the lay of the pipe to the unevenness of the beds was provided for, and perfect joint secured. It is believed this is the first instance of laying, successfully, water pipe beneath a deep running stream. The works were completed and ready for operation on the eleventh of December, 1867. About two miles of mains have been laid,
giving the town, what it so well deserves, a sense of security against the ravages of fire, which other towns may well envy.

1882 Gouverneur, Engineering News, 9:58 (February 18, 1882)

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

1888 Gouverneur Water Works Company stock certificate

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

1890 Gouverneur:  A History 1805-1890, by Jane A.W. Parker
Pages 41-42:  In the year 1868, the Gouverneur Water Works Company was incorporated with a capital of $20,000.  This enterprise was the labor of a few individuals, the original company consisting of but seven persons, namely: Charles Anthony, Augustus E. Norton, Edwin Dodge, Peter Van Buren, Stephen B. Van Duzee, Lyman Litchfield and Charles E. Clark. In the same year the company purchased a water power on one of the islands in the river a few feet below the Main street bridge, where they erected a water house and put in machinery propelled by water, by which they run three force pumps upon what is known as the Holly System, by which the water is forced up through a main pipe extending from the water house to Spencer's hotel, and from which pipes can nr readily taken to other portions of the village. A portion only of the cross pipes have been laid and water introduced into private residences, although nearly every place of business upon Main street is supplied. with running water. A trough cut from solid stone is placed just below the public park, where a continuous stream of living water bubbles into the basin which is always full no matter how great the draught upon it.
We have often seen a half dozen of teams standing at this public fountain, and during the business hours of the day scarcely a minute passes without a call upon its never-failing resources. The pipes are laid in Rosendale cement and the machinery is capable of forcing the water for extinguishing fires to the height; of eighty or one hundred feet, and it is to be hoped that the day is not far dis1tant, when every house in the corporation will be secured from fire by the introduction of water upon the premises, The town has been so heavily taxed for other purposes, that it has hardly been deemed expedient to assume the additional expense of the water works so that this may be attained, although the whole is only a question of time.
Reference has before been made to the hose and cart which have been purchased by the village for use in case of fire, and also for drenching the streets in hot or dry weather. An efficient fire department also exists, but thus far they have had no opportunity for testing their powers in this direction. It is generally believed that much of the hose on hand is not adequate to bear the pressure which must necessarily come upon it in case of emergency, and the purchase of a few hundred feet of a stronger material is earnestly recommended.
For the history of the water works, we are indebted to Chas Anthony, Esq., who kindly furnished the items, for which he has our thanks; and while upon the subject , we must be pardoned for calling the attention of builders and owners of buildings, to the unsafe proximity of barns, sheds and other wooden edifices. In most incorporated towns there is a law limiting the distance between such buildings. If such a law exists in Gouverneur, it is almost daily set at defiance, and it is the observation of those who have watched the progress of fores, that a large per cent of them are propagated and fed by the cheap rear buildings, which are always attached to stores and dwellings. The observance of this fact, with suitable action upon the matter will doubtless sooner or later prove the salvation of our village.
Page 58:  During this year a neat and commodious building was erected by the Water Works company for the pumps which supply the village with water. It is of rough ashlar and brick, with a metal roof and is as near fire-proof as such a building can be. The pumps work day and night, with a reserve for cases of emergency. In it are rooms for a night watchman and conveniences for the company's system of operations. In this connection we may add that twenty-four new and large hydrants have this year been set, and the company are rapidly extending their works as the demand therefore increases.

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

1891 "The Water-Works at Gouveneur, N.Y.," Engineering News 25:89-90 (January 24, 1891)

1891 "Gouverneur Water Works Construction," The Gouverneur Free Press, January 28, 1891, Page 3.

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

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

1925 "The Municipal Water Plant," The Gouverneur Free Press, January 6, 1925, Page 4.

1955 The Sesquicentennial History of Gouveneur
Pages 13-14:  The Gouverneur Water Works Co., a private company, was organized on April 17, 1868, by Charles Anthony, Augustus E. Norton, Edwin G. Dodge, Peter Van Buren, Stephen B. Van Duzee, Lyman Litchfield and Charles E. Clark. The system was known as "The Holly" and was operated by a waterwheel located on the island nearest the western end of Easton works. This waterwheel pumped water constantly from the Oswegatchie river into a water main that extended from the bridge eastward through the main business section to the Spencer hotel at Depot and East Main streets. Hydrants along the route were available for use by the stores and homes. As the waterwheel operated constantly and there was no standpipe, a relief valve prevented over pressure on the mains when there was little or no demand.
Page 15:  The burning of the first Van Buren house in 1881, and the Spencer hotel at Depot and East Main streets in 1889, brought out a demand for better fire protection and a water service over the entire village. The present water system was voted in early 1890 and put into use on January 2, 1891.

2005 Gouverneur Bicentennial History 1805-2005
Page 23:  1964  Residents are very happy with the water coming from the newly completed water filtration plant in the village of Gouveneur.  The plant has been described as one of the most modern facilities of its type in the country.  the water plant began operating at 2 million gallons every 12 hours.

Charles Anthony exhibit at the Gouverneur Museum, includes pictures of wooden water pipes dug up in 1952.

2018 Morris A. Pierce