Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography
Middle Atlantic States Pennsylvania  Brookville

Brookville, Pennsylvania

Brookville was settled in 1796 and incorporated as a borough in 1830.

The Brookville Water Company was incorporated in 1846 to "proceed and bring, introduce and convey water into the borough of Brookville."  Samuel H. Lucas, Jesse G. Clark, Jared B. Evans, John Smith, Uriah Mason and Samuel Craig were appointed commissioner to form the company.  The company built a gravity system using wooden logs, but it was unsuccessful and a local tannery owner, David Henry, was so upset that he dug up and cut the logs. 

A second Brookville Water Company was incorporated on August 8, 1883 and built a system using iron pipes that began service on December 1, 1883, pumping water from North Fork Creek into elevated tanks using a Worthington steam pumping engine.  The borough attempted to buy the water system in 1904 but did not complete the transaction.  Another attempt in 1911 was successful, and the borough took possession of the system on January 1, 1912 for a payment of $116,000.  The water company had built a new dam in 1910, but it did not meet the requirements of the Pennsylvania State Department of Health.  The department notified the borough in 1912 that the dam was unsafe and advised them to warn downstream residents, but the town refused.  The dam subsequently failed on July 17, 1912 causing great damage but no loss of life.

The Brookville Municipal Authority was incorporated in December 23, 1957 to assume ownership of the borough's water and sewer systems.

Water is provided by the Brookville Municipal Authority.

1846 An act authorizing the Governor to incorporate the Brookville Water Company.  April 20, 1846.

1884 Brookville, from Engineering News 11:262 (May 24, 1884)

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

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

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

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

1904 Brookville Borough v. Brookville Water Company et al., June 18, 1904.  The District Reports of Cases Decided in All the Judicial Districts of the State of Pennsylvania, Volume 14 (1905)

1914 "Special Report on Brookville Dam Failure," Seventh Annual Report of the Commissioner of Health of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Part 2, 1914.

1917 Jefferson County, Pennsylvania: Her Pioneers and People 180-1915 by William James Mcknight.
Pages 395-396: "Notwithstanding this watery name and watery environment of our town, Brookville, in my boyhood and early manhood days, was very meagerly supplied with water. That which the people had and obtained from deep and expensive wells was, as a rule, disagreeable in taste and of an inferior quality. In fact, two pioneer citizens, namely, Charles Anderson and one William Montgomery, for many years supplied the women of the town with washing and scrub water at the rate of six and one fourth, ten and twenty-five cents per barrel. In addition to this, the women were obliged to catch all the rain water possible in tubs and barrels for dish-washing and other ordinary household purposes.
"I will now read to you the call for the formation and organization of the pioneer waterworks in and for Brookville:
"'Notice is hereby given that the books for the subscription for stock in the Brookville Water Company will be opened at the store of J. B. Evans, in Brookville. on Monday, the 17th day of August next. (Signed by) Samuel H. Lucas, Jesse G. Clark, Jared B. Evans, John Smith, Uriah Matson, Samuel Craig, Commissioners. (Dated) July 28, 1846.'
"The company was chartered by act of Assembly in 1847. The water supplied by this company was from what is now called the 'American House' spring. No cistern was built at the head of the spring and the water was conducted through logs buried in the ground, just as it naturally flowed. The logs were laid down Jefferson to Pickering, down Pickering to South side of Main street, and west from Pickering on Main to Barnett. Charles Merriman bored these pitchpine logs. Log penstocks were supplied to customers. These were double bored, had wooden stopcocks and were located on the street. The enterprise was unsuccessful. This spring supplied David Henry's tannery, built by him in 1831, and which stood where the 'American House' barn now stands. The loss of the water at his tannery so angered Mr. Henry that he dug out and cut the logs. A suit at law resulted and the court decided that water could not be legally diverted from its natural course. The loss occasioned by the interruption of his business and expenses attending this litigation ruined Mr. Henry and disrupted the company. To the best of my recollection, a family-right was ten dollars per year.
"The second attempt, and the only successful effort, to establish public waterworks for the town, was by a subscription from our citizens of twenty-five thousand dollars in stock, and on the 30th day of July, 1883, was organized the chartered Brookvijle Water Company. On the 1st of December, 1883, the company had water running through a six-inch wrought-iron flange pipe over quite a portion of the town. The water provided by this company is taken from the North Fork and is the first supplied to the town that is pure, sweet and healthful.

2016 Morris A. Pierce