Documentary History of American Water-works

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Middle Atlantic States Pennsylvania  Hollidaysburg

Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania

Hollidaysburg was first settled in 1768 and incorporated as a borough in 1836.

The Holidaysburg Water Company was incorporated in 1841 to "bring into the bo­rough of Hollidaysburg, and if thought advisable, into parts of Blair township. adjacent to said borough, an abundant supply of water,"   C. Garber, G. L. Lloyd, M. C. Garber, James Kring, Charles O. Friel, Jacob Taylor, Peter Hewet, James Coffee, J. C. McClanahan, George R. McFarlane, William Williams, John Walker, Henry King, Thomas B. Moore, Jeremiah Cunningham, N. Hewet, A. McCormick and James Gardner were appointed commissioners to form the company.

The Hollidaysburg Water and Gas Company was incorporated in 1854 by James M. Bell, Thomas B. Moore, Henry Leamer, Thaddeus Banks, R. R. Bryran, R. A. McMurtrie, Thomas C. McDowell, Gilbert L. Lloyd, Henry L. Patterson, David Watson, Thomas Bingham, John Cresswell Jr., and William McFarland to "provide, erect and maintain all works and machinery or engines necessary or proper for making, raising and introducing into the borough of Hollidaysburg a sufficient supply of pure water and gas."

Another Hollidaysburg Water Company was incorporated in 1865 "for the purpose of introducing, from some convenient source, into the said towns of Hollidaysburg and Gaysport, a sufficient supply of pure and wholesome water."   James Gardiner, William Jack, R. A. M’Murtrie, Samuel Calvin, H. L. Patterson, D. Watson, D. Caldwell, Joseph Irwin, Hugh M’Neal, William Hasty, James Condron, Benj. M. Johnston, Thaddeus Banks, E. Hammond and Aug. S. Landis were appointed commissioners to form the company.

No evidence has been found that any of the above companies built systems.

The borough of Hollidaysburg was authorized to construct water works in 1866 and built a gravity system that began operating in November, 1867.  The system used Wycoff wood pipe, which had been replaced with cast iron by 1888.

Water service is provided by the Borough of Hollidaysburg.

1841 An act authorizing the Governor to incorporate the Holidaysburg Water Company.  March 12, 1841.

1854 An act to incorporate the Hollidaysburg Water and Gas Company.  March 16, 1854.

1865 An act to incorporate the Hollidaysburg Water Company.  March 16, 1865.

1866 An act authorizing the borough of Hollidaysburg to erect water works.  March 16, 1866.

1880 History of the City of Altoona and Blair County: Including Sketches of the Shops of the Pennsylvania Railroad Co. by James H. Ewing.
Page 224:  Water Works and Reservoir.
The Hollidaysburg water works were built by the borough authorities. The act of Assembly authorizing their construction was approved March 16, 1866. James Gardner, William Jack, James Condron, John L. Hemphill and Thaddeus Banks were the water commissioners. An article of agreement was made and entered into with John A. VVoodward and T. B. Farrington, of Williamsport, Pa., to supply the water pipes. These pipes are of wood, wrapped with iron by a machine invented for this express purpose, and coated with a composition of coal tar and asphaltum. The water is brought from a beautiful spring of free-stone water on the Brush mountain farm of the Hon. Thaddeus Banks. Its location is in a beautiful mountain dell, into which the rays of the sun seldom penetrate, and the pure, clear, cold water comes forth from the mountain side, leaping and rushing over large moss-covered boulders, and from the noise thus made it has received the appropriate name of “Roaring Run.” The distance, along the line of pipes, from the borough limits to where the stream is tapped, is two and three-fourth miles. Hollidaysburg was truly happy when the pure Brush mountain water leaped from the hydrants for the first time, early in November, 1867. The cost of these works was about $50,000. It must be remembered that in 1866—7 the cost of iron pipes was from one-third to one-half more than the cost of wooden pipes.
It was ascertained that the small well first used for the reception of the water was insufficient, and a reservoir was constructed of a capacity of two and a half million gallons, at a cost of about $15,000. The elevation of the reservoir above Brush run is one hundred and seventy-five feet, and above points in town from sixty to one hundred and twenty feet. The water works are managed and controlled by the burgess and town council.

1881 Hollidaysburg, from Engineering News, 8:520 (December 24, 1881)

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

1883 History of Huntingdon and Blair Counties, Pennsylvania, by J. Simpson Africa
Page 70: Water Supply.— As early as 1837 an attempt was made to organize a company for the purpose of supplying the borough with water-works, but the project failed. In 1854 the question was again agitated, for we find, by referring to the proceedings of the Town Council, that on the 19th of August of that year, Thomas Bingham, "at the request of numerous inhabitants," offered a resolution, which proposed that an election be held to decide "whether ten thousand dollars should should be subscribed by the burgess and Council (and they to levy a tax for the same) towards the capital stuck of the Hollidaysburg Water Company."  This resolution was adopted in Council, but nothing more was done at that time concerning an additional water supply, copious rains, doubtless, having dampened the people's ardor.
By an act of the State Legislature, approved March 16, 1866, the borough authorities were empowered to construct the present water-works, issue bonds, etc., and Messrs. James Gardner, William Jack, James Condron, John L. Humphill, and Thaddeus Banks were appointed, in addition to the burgess and Council, a board of water commissioners to order and superintend the construction of the works.
On the 24th day of January, 1867, an agreement was entered into by which the firm of Woodward (J. A.) & Farrington (T. R.), Williamsport, Pa., stipulated to furnish pipe and other fixtures at a certain price, and the same day it was resolved that the sum of forty thousand dollars be borrowed, for which the borough should issue its bonds. Contracts for hauling, excavating, etc., were made with various parties March 25, 1867, and thenceforth, under the superintendence of Mr. Brawley, the work progressed rapidly. The well or reservoir, on the seminary lot, adjoining Union Street, was located May 20, 1867, and during the fall of the same year the pure water from Brush Mountain leaped from the borough hydrants.
The first schedule of water rates was issued Jan. 25, 1868. At the same time James Gardner was appointed receiver of water rents, and it was further ordered that consumers be charged from January 1st of that year.  For the exclusive right of using the waters of Roaring Run, Thaddeus Banks, Esq., was paid the sum of $150. The firm of Woodward & Farrington was paid $33,283.21, and to July 25, 1868, Augustus S. Landis as treasurer, had paid out more than $50,000.
During recent years it has been found necessary to replace a large portion of the original pipes — which were constructed of wood, iron, coal tar, and native bitumen — with iron ones; and it has also been demonstrated that while the water from Roaring Run is of the most excellent quality, the supply during dry seasons is not sufficient to meet the ordinary residents.

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

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

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

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

1911 Twentieth Century History of Altoona and Blair County, Pennsylvania, and Representative Citizens, by Jesse C. Sell.
Page 407:  Hollidaysburg. Water Supply.  An attempt was made as early as 1837 to organize a company to supply the town with water but it failed.  It was again agitated in 1854 and failed again.  Finally in 1866 it materialized and a spring was tapped on Brush mountain, which supplied the town up to about 1896, when a line of pipes was laid to the head waters of Blair's creek in the noted Blair's gap of the Allegheny.  The town now boasts of an abundant supply of the best and purest water available.

© 2016 Morris A. Pierce