Documentary History of American Water-works

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Middle Atlantic States New York Port Henry

Port Henry, New York

Port Henry was incorporated as a village in 1869.

Several houses in Port Henry were supplied with water by the mid-1850s, including, including George H. Blinn's, John A. Lee's, and George R.Sherman's.  Jonathan G. Witherbee built a gravity water system in 1871 that was expanded in 1880 to serve the entire village.  This proved to be inadequate and the village constructed a new gravity water works in 1892.  The Witherbee system was working as late as 1920.

Water is provided by the Town of Moriah.

1869 The Military and Civil History of the County of Essex, New York: And a General Survey of Its Physical Geography, Its Mines and Minerals, and Industrial Pursuits, Embracing an Account of the Northern Wilderness ; and Also the Military Annals of the Fortresses of Crown Point and Ticonderoga, by Winslow Cossoul Watson

1871 "Port Henry," The Plattsburgh Sentinel, December 1, 1871, Page 3.
There is in the park a handsome sheet water, brought from the mountains a distance of about two miles, by means of water works, the property of Mr. Witherbee.

1876 Map of the Town of Moriah, showing village of Port Henry

1880 Plattsburgh Republican, November 20, 1880, Page 1.
The Witherbee water works of Port Henry have recently been enlarged so as to furnish sufficient water for the whole village.  The distributing reservoir holds 100,000 gallons.

1885 History of Essex County : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers, by Henry Perry Smith
Pages 591:  Port Henry.  The Fire Department. Previous to the year 1872 the means of extinguishing fires in the village were meagre and inadequate. In that year the water works were built by J. G. Witherbee at a cost of about $50,000, and hydrants were established at several points, where by the use of hose they would be most serviceable in case of conflagration. Water for the works is taken first from springs situated about a mile southwest of the reservoir on the Sophia Witherbee farm. The reservoir is built on " Sand hill " within the village corporation, about one-fourth of a mile from the engine-house and on an elevation of three hundred feet. From the springs to the reservoir the water is taken by gravity in a six-inch pipe, while the reservoir is connected with the engine-house by two two-inch pipes. The works are now the property of the Witherbee estate, from which privileges are leased to the village fire department for $100 a year.

1889 The Bulletin of the American Iron and Steel Association, Volume 23
Page 171:  Biographical Sketch of Silas H. Sitherbee

1892 Paving and Municipal Engineering 2(7):159 (December, 1891)
Port Henry, N.Y., has voted for a system of water-works (gravity) to cost $50,000, and work on the same will be commenced at the earliest possible moment.

1896 America's Successful Men of Affairs: The United States at large, by Henry Hall
Page 887:  Jonathan Gilman Witherbee (1821-1875)

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

1899 Village of Port Henry v. Kidder, 57 N.Y.S. 102, March 8, 1899, Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Department, N.Y. Supp 1899

1906 History of the Iron Industry of Essex County, New York, by Frank S. Witherbee

1911 Proceedings of the New York State Historical Association, Volume 10 | also here |
Pages 171-237:  The History of the Iron Ore Industry of Lake Champlain, by the Dr. George F. Bisby, Plattsburg

1915 Fifth Annual Report of the Conservation Commission
Pages 300-306:  Application of the Village of Port Henry to make improvements to the village water system.  Approved February 5, 1915.

1918 Annual Report of the State Department of Health of New York for the Year Ending December 31, 1918
Pages 353-355: Port Henry (Municipal Supply) Supplies about 2,000 people through 450 taps
Pages 356-357: Port Henry (Witherbee Supply) Supplies about 140 people through 36 taps

1931 History of Port Henry, N.Y., by Charles Bond Warner and C. Eleanor Hall
Pages 142-143:  WATER SYSTEM
Brooks and backyard wells supplied the water to the pioneers. For many years Mrs. Owen McEnany's well was a gathering place of the village Rebeccas. During the 1850's water was piped into the Blinn house from the spring at the southeast corner of the Isaac Harris property. About this time Mr. John A. Lee and Mr. G. R. Sherman piped the water from the Spring Street springs into their respective houses. These springs still bubble but into a pipe under Mr. Joseph Catanzarita's cellar.
During the early '70's, Mr. J. G. Witherbee inaugurated his water works. The reservoir was located on Broad Street and was fed by springs on the Witherbee farm, now owned by Mr. Emerson James. This source of supply was inadequate for the growing community so that the village in the late '70's built a municipal system, tapping the Pilfershire springs. In 1916 a three million gallon reservoir and a filtration plant were added.  The New York State Board of Health's analysis shows that the purity of this water is unquestioned.
The ancestors of modern plumbing appeared in this community during the '50's in the form of two magnificent tin bath tubs in the homes of Mr. J. G. Witherbee and Mr. G. R. Sherman.

1990 Mineville, New York: A Concrete Industrial Village in the Heart of the Adirondack Forests, by Ann-Isabel Friedman, Masters Thesis in Historic Preservation, University of Pennsylvania

1991 The Historic and Architectural Resources of the Town of Moriah, National Register of Historic Places

The Story of Iron in Crown Point & Moriah

2018 Morris A. Pierce