Documentary History of American Water-works

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

Plymouth, Pennsylvania

Plymouth was incorporated as a borough in 1866.

The Plymouth Water Company was incorporated on June 12, 1875 and built a gravity system the following year that was supplemented with water pumped from the Susquehanna river.

Plymouth was struck by a typhoid epidemic in 1885 that was caused by one infected person in the system watershed whose excreta thawed in the spring and ended up being distributed by the water company, causing several deaths.  The company was found not liable as they did not own the property, were not aware of the presence of typhoid, and had been diligent about inspecting the watershed.

The Plymouth company started receiving water from the Spring Brook Water Company in 1890, and was bought by the Spring Brook Water Supply Company in 1899.  The Spring Brook company was acquired by the Federal Water Service Corporation in 1927 and became part of the American Water Works Company in 1996.

Water is provided by Pennsylvania American Water.

1875 "Plymouth Water Works," Daily Record of the Times (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania), July 22, 1875, Page 3.

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

1885 "The Epidemic of Typhoid Fever at Plymouth, Pennsylvania," The Medical News 46(20):541-543 (May 16, 1885)

1885 "The Etiology of the Plymouth Epidemic," by William Stone Torrey, M.D., Medical Record 27(23):626-627 (June 6, 1885)

1885 "The Plymouth Epidemic," by Hermann M. Biggs, M.D., Medical Record 27(26):715-716 (June 27, 1885)

1885 "An Epidemic of Typhoid Fever at Plymouth, Pa. (Second Paper)," by Lewis H. Taylor, M.D.,  The Medical News 46(25):681-686 (June 30, 1885)

1885 "The Typhoid Fever Epidemic at Plymouth, Pa.," by Cyrus Edson, M.D., The Sanitarian 14:530-537 (June, 1885)

1885 Report Upon the Epidemic of Typhoid Fever at Plymouth, Luzerne County, Pa, by Morris Stroud French and Edward Oram Shakespeare

1886 "Report upon the Epidemic of Typhoid Fever at Plymouth, Pennsylvania," by Lewis H. Taylor, M.D., First Annual Report of the State Board of Health of Pennsylvania.

1886 Plymouth, from Engineering News, 15:268 (April 24, 1886)

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

1890 "Plymouth to have Spring Brook Water," Pittston Gazette, May 16, 1890, Page 3.

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

1891 W. Buckingham v. Plymouth Water Co., 142 Pa. 221, May 4, 1891, Pennsylvnia Supreme Court.
1. In an action against a water company for negligence in supplying impure water to its consumers, resulting, as was alleged, in the sickness and death of plaintiff's children from disease, there being no submissible evidence of culpable negligence on the part of the defendant it was not error to order a nonsuit.
2. An offer to show that, before the sickness of the plaintiff's children, there were typhoid-fever patients near the banks of small streams emptying into a river some distance above the point whence the company drew a portion of its supply, did not tend to establish negligence on the part of the defendant.

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

1893 History of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania: With Biographical Selections, Volume 1, by Henry C. Bradsby
Page 634:  Plymouth Borough.  Water company, Oscar M. Lance, superintendent, was organized in 1875. Officers: Draper Smith, president; Peter Shupp, secretary; A. K. De Witt, treasurer. Commenced by sinking back on the mountain side four artesian wells, ranging in depth from 400 feet to 1,950 feet. The capacity of these is 15,000 gallons a day. These were sunk in 1880; then the company have four large reservoirs, fed by springs and surface water. These have a capacity of 10,000,000 gallons. They are on the mountain side, with a fall the highest of 600 feet; they also are supplied by the Spring Brook Water company from their works above Pittston, and in emergency have pumps at the river that pump directly into the mains; so there can be no such thing as a scarcity of water under any circumstances

1896 "Must Vacate the Watershed," Wilkes-Barre Record, October 21, 1896, Page 5.
Dairyman Davis must move from his place above Plymouth.

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

1899 The Scranton Republican, November 30, 1899, Page 3.
The Spring Brook Water Supply Company of which Col. L. A. Watres is president, has purchased the entire capital stock of the Plymouth Water company.

1920 Water Resources Inventory Report, Part VI, Water Supply
Pages 441-466:  Spring Brook Water Supply Company

2019 Morris A. Pierce