Documentary History of American Water-works

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Middle Atlantic States Pennsylvania Pithole City

Pithole City, Pennsylvania

Pithole City was incorporated as a borough on December 11, 1865.  The charter was revoked in August, 1877.

The Pithole City Water Company was incorporated on October 24, 1865 and built a gravity system that began operating in December of that year.  The company changed its name to the Pithole City Water and Gas Company in 1866.

The community was largely abandoned by 1877 when the borough's charter was revoked.

There is currently no public water supply.

1867 The History of Pithole, by Charles C. Leonard
Pages 47-48:  The Water Works.  Among the many enterprises for which our city is justly celebrated none are more worthy of notice than the Pithole City Water Works. From the birth of the town there was a great scarcity of water for drinking purposes. The elevation of land upon which the city proper is located, together with a strata of rock immediately beneath the surface of the soil, rendered it extremely difficult to sink water wells. There were a few surface springs upon the hillside, but the constant drain upon them made it impossible to supply the city with water from this source. For many weeks pure water was retailed through the streets for one dollar per barrel, or at ten cents a pail full. We have seen one dollar paid for a pail of common drinking water, and ten cents a drink was no uncommon price at that time. Water wagons constantly traveled the streets, and filled the barrels or buckets at the different houses with water obtained from a flowing water well on the creek. Is it to be wondered at that water as a beverage ceased to be used in Pithole? With whisky as cheap as “nature's fluid,” and far more plentiful, it is not strange every man carried a bottle. “John B. Gough” would have found few followers here in “his policy,” at that time. The Pithole City Water Company was organized by Messrs. J. C. Cross and A. P. Hatch, and operations commenced in September, 1865. The well and reservoir is located on the highest point of land on the Walter Holmden farm, and overlooking the city.
At the depth of 213 feet an excellent spring of pure water was found, and by the 18th day of November the city was supplied with water. The Chase House consumed the first water turned in the pipes. The diameter of the main pipe is three inches, and it extends through all the principal streets of the borough. Eleven thousand feet of pipe is thus used in conveying water to all parts of the city. The size of the bore of the well is four inches in diameter, and 15,000 barrels per day have been pumped, although that amount is not needed for the city's use. The reservoir has a capacity of 25,000 barrels. The whole cost of this enterprise was $25,000. Many troubles and difficulties arose from mismanagement, and the works were finally sold at Sheriff's sale, in May, 1866. M. M. Moore, of Erie, was the purchaser, and now owns the same.

1879 History of Venango County, Pennsylvania: And Incidentally of Petroleum, Together with Accounts of the Early Settlement and Progress of Each Township, Borough and Village, with Personal and Biographical Sketches of the Early Settlers, Representative Men, Family Records, Etc., by J. H. Newton
Page 580:  Pithole City City Water Works.
The place became a city of such proportions and importance as to require the erection of water works, and operations for their construction began in September, 1865, the enterprise costing $25,000.

1989 The Titusville Herald, August 24, 1969, Page 20.
The Pithole City Water Company organized in September and sold stock to raise sufficient capital to drill wells, build a reservoir on the hill above the churches and lay pipe through the main streets of town.  The first water was run through the pipes in mid-December.

2000 Petrolia: The Landscape of America's First Oil Boom, by Brian Black
Pages 153-154:  Water provided the first opportunity for Pithole to try to band together for its common good. Franchised on September 1, the Pithole City Water Company began looking for water on the hills above Morey Farm. Near the end of the month, they struck water and excavated a 25,000-gallon reservoir while also laying a system of iron pipes through the main streets of the city. However, applications for use were only made by businesses. From the beginning, the Pithole City Water Company proved unable to make ends meet. Too few users were willing to pay, and establishing town authority appealed to no one—even though such authority would keep the mains full at night, when they were most needed for fighting fires.

2014 The Natural Gas Industry in Appalachia: A History from the First Discovery to the Tapping of the Marcellus Shale, 2d ed., by David A. Waples
Page 20:  Also in 1866, the local water company changed its name to the Pithole City Water and Gas Company.

© 2019 Morris A. Pierce