Documentary History of American Water-works

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North Central States
Ohio Lorain

Lorain, Ohio

Lorain was founded in 1822 and known as Black River until incorporated as s village in 1874.  Lorain City was incorporated in 1894.

The Blackriver Water Company was incorporated in 1837 by Daniel T. Baldwin and George E. Merwin "for the purpose of supplying the village of Blackriver, in the county of Lorain, with water."  No evidence has been found that this company built anything.

The village of Lorain built a system pumping water from Lake Erie in 1884 using Wyckoff wood pipe and two Walker pumps built by Miciah Walker of Port Huron, Michigan.  A typhoid epidemic  in 1893 led to the installation of Jewell Filters in 1896.

Water is supplied by the City of Lorain, which has some history on its water purification web page.

1837 An act to incorporate the Blackriver Water Company in the county of Lorain.  January 7, 1837.

1884 An act to authorize the village council of the incorporated village of Lorain, Lorain county, Ohio, to issue bonds for the purpose of providing said village with a system of public water works.  March 11, 1884

1884 "To Builders and Contractors of Water Works," Engineering News 11:VII June 7, 1884.

1884 Engineering News, 11:318 (June 21, 1884)
On the 13th inst. the Michigan Pipe Company of Bay City Mich., contracted with the village of Lorain, Ohio, to furnish for their water-works 1275'-10", 1650'-8", 17850'-6", and 8950'-4", Wyckoff Patent Water Pipe.  Special castings, 40 double disch hydrants, and 34 valves and vale boxes, also to lay the pipe and set hydrant valves and special castings.  Mr. Walker of Port Huron, Mich., contracted to furnish a set of Walker's pumps and boilers, also to furnish and lay the 1000' of 10" suction and 300' of 6" river crossing.

1884 "Sale of Corporation Bonds," The Elyria Republican, July 3, 1884, Page 8.

1884 Wellington Enterprise, August 13, 1884, Page 5.
Lorain. The digging of the trenches was commenced last Wednesday, on North Broadway for the water works.  About 35 hands are employed at $1.25 per day.

1885 "Water in Lorain," The Elyria Republican, January 8, 1885, Page 4. | part 2 |

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

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

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

1895 Tenth Annual Report of the State Board of Health of the State of Ohio
Pages 68-76:  Report on Change in Water Supply of Lorain, by George W. Rafter

1896 "Jewell Filter Plant in Loraine, O.," Engineering News, 35:359 (May 28, 1896)

1896 Eleventh Annual Report of the State Board of Health of the State of Ohio for the year ending October 31, 1896
Pages 81-84: Purification of the water supply of Lorain

1896 On Lake Erie as a Water Supply for the Towns on its Borders, by George W. Rafter, read before the Microsopical Club of the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences, January 13, 1896.  Reprinted from the Buffalo Medical Journal 36(1):10-25 (August, 1896)  | Correspondence from Dr. William G. Bissell 36(4):307-308 (November, 1896) |

1896 Map of City of Lorain, showing the water works plant, from Lorain County Historical Maps

1897 "Mechanical Filter Plant," Engineering News 37:305 (May 20, 1897), Page 305:

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

1897 "Rapid Mechanical Filtration at Lorain, Ohio," by A.G. Humphrey, M.D., The Annals of Hygiene 12(5):281-286 (May, 1897)

1897 Twelfth Annual Report of the State Board of Health of the State of Ohio for the year ending October 31, 1897
Pages 154-163:  Report on the Mechanical Filtration of the Public Water Supply of Loraine

1897 The Jewell water filter gravity and pressure systems, by O.H. Jewell Filter Company
Pages 57-61:  Lorain, Ohio

1901 Filtration at Lorain, Ohio: A Development in the Art of Coagulation of Waters Prior to Filtration by the Use of Sulphur and Scrap Iron, by William Marshall Jewell

1902 "Filtration at Lorain," by O.H. Jewell, Fire and Water 31(23):182-184 (June 10, 1902) | also here |

1902 "Well Recommended," The Chronicle-Telegram (Elyria, Ohio), December 23, 1902, Page 5.
The Jewell Filter Purchased for Elyria - Jewell Plant at Lorain satisfactory.

1904 "Inspecting Filter Plants," The Elyria Reporter, March 12, 1904, Page 1.
President C.S. Jewell, of the Jewell Filter Company, was at Lorain on Friday making an inspection of the Elyria and Lorain filter plants.  Chemist Brown, in charge of the Elyria plant, stated that the plant which has been in operation three week, showed an average of 98.55 per cent pure.

1905 Twentieth Annual report of the State Board of Health of the state of Ohio, for the year ending October 31, 1905
Pages 92-96:  Report on Proposed New Water Filtration Plant at Lorain

1906 "Water Purification at Lorain, Ohio," by Paul Hansen, Asst. Engr. State Board of Health, Columbus. O., Proceedings of the Ohio Engineering Society 27:49-55 (January, 1906)

1908 "Filtration Plant at Lorain, Ohio," Fire and Water Engineering 43(2):17-20 (January 8, 1908) | also here |

1908 Report of an investigation of water and sewage purification plant in Ohio, made under authority of an act of legislature, passed February 23, 1906.
Pages 155-189:  Lorain

1911 Twenty-Sixth Annual report of the State Board of Health of the state of Ohio, for the year ending October 31, 1911
Pages 195-200:  Report on Proposed Enlargement of Water Filtration Plant at Lorain

1916 "The Development of Rapid Sand Filters in Ohio," Journal of the American Water Works Association 3(1):175-183 (March, 1916) | also here |

1916 A Standard History of Lorain County, Ohio, Volume 1, edited by George Frederick Wright
Page 292-294:  The Filtration Plant.
The main considerations for conserving the public health are the proper disposition of the sewage and an adequate and pure supply of water. Both of these Lorain now enjoys, but did not obtain without careful consideration, hard work and great expense. The filtration plant, which is the gem of the system, gives Lorain as healthful a water supply as can be found anywhere.
"The first installation," says Thomas H. Tristram, superintendent of filtration and long connected with the system, "was built in 1884, and consisted of an intake, pumping station and distribution system. The method was to pump the water direct to the consumer without any previous treatment or purification.
"This method obtained without any very serious effect on public health, until the year 1892, when a system of sanitary sewers was constructed in Lorain, and these carried practically all of the sewage of the city into Black River. The effect of this sewage, on the wholesomeness of the water supply is indicated by the fact that the typhoid death rate for 1893 increased to the unusually high figure of 183 per 100,000. A high death rate from this disease prevailed for two or three years after the sewers were built.
"To remedy this disastrous and undesirable condition the intelligence and enterprise of our citizenship was exerted to the end, that in the year 1897 a mechanical filtration plant of three million gallons daily capacity was built. This plant has the distinction of being the first municipal filter plant in the country to be built upon a bacterial guarantee.
"For several years after the installation of the improved equipment, the city experienced a comparatively low death rate from typhoid until the latter part of the year 1903 when it became necessary to make extensive repairs to the filters, and the plant was shut down. The typhoid death rate immediately mounted upward and the rate for that year reached 51 per 100,000, the highest to that time since the building of the plant.
"No more striking proof of the efficiency of filtration in the removal of pollution in a water supply can be found than that presented during the months of inactivity of the filter plant in the year 1903.
"For a number of years the city had enjoyed a rapid growth in population and in the year 1905 it was found that the capacity of the old purification plant was exceeded by the quantity of water pumped, and, with commendable zeal on the part of public officials and citizens to maintain the standard already attained, plans were drawn for a new filtration plant of double the capacity of the old one.
"The new plant went into operation April, 1907; and has been in successful operation until the present time.
"About the same time in which the new plant went into service the government breakwater at the harbor entrance was being built out to the westward and threatened to enclose the intake pipes through which the supply was then being drawn.
"Plans were immediately made to extend the intake to a point beyond the breakwater and outside the danger zone.
"This, however, was not accomplished until the year 1912, when, in the month of April, the plant began receiving water through this new intake and has so continued to the present time.
"With all of these improvements to the water supply, the typhoid death rate in Lorain has, with one or two exceptions averaged close to the so-called 'normal' rate of 20 per 100,000 population. Much can yet be done, however, to reduce this rate, and plans for extensions and improvements to the filtration system have been prepared and submitted to the State Board of Health." 

1926 "Lake Erie as a Public Water Supply," by Howell Wright, Journal of the American Water Works Association 16(6): 737-744 (December, 1926)

1939 Charles Arthur Brown (1866-1939) grave
C. Arthur Brown, a leader in water purification for many years, died at the age of 73 on November 4 at Lorain, Ohio. Mr. Brown was born in Gallipolis, Ohio, attended Chaddock College in Quincy, Illinois where he first became interested in water purification through work in the Quincy Water Works. He came to Lorain in 1896 as an engineer with the O.H. Jewell Filter Co., and designed and supervised construction of the Lorain municipal water works; a plant which had many unique features when it was built. He promoted the use of ferrous sulfate (copperas) in water plants throughout the country. He served on George W. Fuller’s staff at Louisville during the experimental studies leading to the “1895 Report”.
In 1905 he became the Chief Engineer for the American Steel & Wire Co. in its purification bureau, holding this position until his retirement six years ago. About twelve years ago he invented the equal pressure diaphragm, a device to measure accurately the amount of water pumped into a filtration plant from the source of supply.
Mr. Brown was a member of the AWWA since 1905.
chemist, Sanitary engineer city of Lorain

2017 "Lorain water treatment history," by Richard Payerchin, Morning Journal, March 2, 2017
Presentation by Lorain Water Purification Superintendent William Gollnitz (retired).

© 2016 Morris A. Pierce