|Introduction||Historical Background||Chronology||Geography||Biography||Technology||Ownership and Financing||General Bibliography|
|Middle Atlantic States||Pennsylvania||Springfield|
Springfield was incorporated as a town in 1686. The borough of Swarthmore was incorporated in 1893.
John Ogden was a large land owner in Springfield Township and owned several hundred acres when he died in 1877. Several of his sons and other relatives joined with Thomas S. Foulke, William M. Thomas, Arthur Beardsley, and Thomas Walter, incorporated the West Hill Land Company on June 25, 1878 to subdivide some of this land into house lots. Foulke was the superintendent of Swarthmore College from 1870 to 1884, and Beardsley was a professor of Engineering at the college. Both of them build some of the first houses on the West Hill property. The company also built a stone water tower on Ogden Avenue to distribute water as an incentive to attract potential buyers. The tower lot at the corner of Ogden Avenue and what is now Walnut Lane is now 540 Ogden Avenue:
|1881 Water Tower
Taken by Charles B. Doran [?]
|Plaque from water tower, now on the
patio of the residence at 540 Ogden Street.
Contributed by Tom and Vicky Huestis, who owned the house from 1994 to 2019.
The West Hill Land Company had a map made of their building lots around 1881:
|Building Lots of the West Hill Land Company
at Swarthmore, by Thomas Hunter of Philadelphia (ca 1881)
Courtesy Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College
Apart from the stone water tower, little documentation has been found about the West Hill water system. It is mentioned in the Chester Times on July 22, 1881, in The Record of Growth: A Monthly Journal of Material Progress the following January, and in the Coshohocken Weekly Recorder in June, 1883. . A circa 1881 map, Building Lots of the West Hill Land Company at Swarthmore, by Thomas Hunter of Philadelphia, shows the stone water tower on Ogden Avenue along with three houses on the West Hill property. This would suggest that the land company built the water works to provide water for prospective purchasers, rather than being developed by later residents. A small spring that appears on 1848 and 1870 maps on property owned by John Ogden just south of the Wallingford Mills on Crum Creek may have been the initial source of water.
Shortly after the first notices appeared of the West Hill water works, a fire gutted Parrish Hall, the main building of Swarthmore College, on the night of September 25, 1881. The college rebuilt it and also developed a water system system that could distribute 50,000 gallons of water per day from Dick's Run on the west side of Crum Creek using water power at the former Strath-Haven mill site. The college built a 60,000-gallon elevated water tank in 1910 for fire protection, and added a mechanical water filter around 1914. The 1910 water tank was replaced with a modern water tower in 1989.
The Springfield Water Company was incorporated on January 4, 1886 by Geoffrey P. Denis of Ridley, J. Engle Cochran, Jr. of Chester; Henry F. Kenney of Ridley; William B. Bullock of Upper Darby; John C. Sims, Jr. of Philadelphia; Richard Peter, Jr of Thurlow; Clifford Stanley Sims, of Mt. Holly, N.J.; and Charles E. Hubbard of Boston, Mass, Clifford Stanley Sims was a vice-president of the Pennsylvania Railroad, and his brother John Clark Sims, Jr. was the railroad's secretary for many years. The same group incorporated the Haverford water company, the Radnor water company, and the Lower Marion water company on the same day. A week later, the Delaware Water Company of the township of Darby and the Upper Darby Water Company were incorporated by G.P. Denis, J. Engle Cochran, Richard Peters, Jr., Clifford Stanley Sims and John C. Sims, Jr.. The stockholders of these companies had their first meeting on February 13, at which G. P. Denis, William B. Buck, H. F. Kenney, R. Peters, Jr., J. E. Cochran and Charles E. Hubbard were elected as directors, which then elected G. P. Denis as president and William B. Bullock secretary and treasurer. The companies did nothing until their next meeting on March 30 of the following year, at which they discussed a proposal received from Comegys & Lewis, New York City contractors who had built twelve water works in the Midwest, to buy the three charters in Lower Merion, Haverford, and Radnor. This deal was closed on August 27 and Comegys & Lewis proceeded with the work in Lower Merion, but managed to accomplish virtually nothing, building a small dam and part of an engine-house but laying no pipe and serving no customers. Pennsylvania law required that water companies begin work within two years of receiving their charter and be complete within five years, so despite requesting an extension of time a local court revoked their charter on March 7, 1892, leaving the Martin's Dam Club with a mess that took more than forty years to clean up. No work was ever done by the Haverford, Radnor, Delaware and Upper Darby Water Companies and they were dissolved. [See 1892 In re Lower Merion Water Company below.]
The travails of Comegys & Lewis in Lower Merion must have dissuaded the investors of the Springfield Water Company from the water works business. On May 3, 1889, the Chester Times noted that the West Hill Water Company of Swarthmore will apply for a charter to supply water to the public in Springfield. If the Springfield Water Company had, in fact, done nothing to "carry on its work and construct its necessary buildings, structures or improvements within the space of two years from date of its letters patent," they would face significant risk of losing their charter. Although the Springfield Water Company could have bought out their potential competitor, they instead chose to sell the entire capital stock sometime before October, 1889 to the five Ogden brothers, C. Edgar Ogden, Charles G. Ogden, J. W. Ogden, Richard T. Ogden, and Richard Ogden. John W., Richard T., and Charles G. Ogden were also directors of the West Hill Land Company.
The new owners recognized that a new water source was needed. A 1986 history notes that "efforts to obtain outside capital and financing assistance were unsuccessful until the American Pipe Manufacturing Company" agreed to help. A contract was executed with them in 1889 to build a new system taking water from Whiskey Run, with a pipe company representative "experienced in water company operations elected a director of the Springfield Water Company." This would suggest that American Pipe took the water company's stock as payment. Deeds from the Delaware County Register of Deeds could verify the dates that the stone water tower and new pumping site on Whiskey Run (also known as Lownes Run) at the former Thomas Otis mill were sold to the Springfield Water Company. Furthermore, an April, 1890 advertisements for a house on West Hill states that "spring water introduced," and an article in The Swarthmore Phoenix for April, 1891 mentions that "Swarthmore village is now mainly supplied by water from the works of the Springfield Water Company, pumping from Whiskey Run." [See Reflections on Water: A Centennial History of Philadelphia Suburban Water Company, by Jerry A. Sacchetti (1986)]
The rapid growth of Swarthmore, especially new development south of the railroad track by the Swarthmore Improvement Company, would have spurred a need for more water. The American Pipe Manufacturing Company had amended their charter in 1890 to allow them to own stock in other companies. They developed and built six other water works that they bought a controlling interest in the Springfield Water Company sometime before June, 1892.
s shared at least one director with the Springfield Water Company and perhaps more. The American Pipe firm would likely have taken stocks and/or bonds from the Springfield Water Company in payment, and took control of the company before March 7, 1892, when they incorporated six new water companies and announced plans to build a large pumping station in Delaware County. The six new companies were into the Springfield Water Company on June 12, 1892, and a week water the Ridley Park Cold Spring Water Company was purchased for $37,500 in bonds and $50,000 in stock.
With the acquisition by the American Pipe Manufacturing Company and the right to serve additional townships and boroughs in Delaware County, the Springfield Water Company extended its reach well belong Springfield Township. The subsequent history of the firm and its successors will be continued on the Aqua America page. Another page covers the history of the American Pipe Manufacturing Company and its water companies outside of suburban Philadelphia.
A long article in the October 3, 1933 Chester Times, which was reprinted without attribution in The Swarthmorian on October 20, tells how several Swarthmore College professors banded together with other residents of West Hill to develop the water system, choosing a nearby small stream as a supply and constructing a pumping station to deliver the water to participating homes. The story goes on to say that this same group decided to incorporate as the Springfield Water Company in 1886, but by 1889 the existing supply was unable to keep up with demand and the company relocated the works to Whiskey Run. When this also proved unable to meet the growing demand, the company sought outside financial and technical assistance from several companies before accepting the proposal from the American Pipe Manufacturing Company of Philadelphia. Professor Arthur Beardsley and college superintendent Thomas S. Foulke built two of the earliest houses on West Hill and were directors of the Land Company.
Water is provided by Aqua Pennsylvania.
1848 Map of Delaware County, Pennsylvania : from original surveys, with the farm limits. Shows Dick's Run, Strath-haven mill, and birthplace of Benjamin West.
1864 An act to incorporate Swarthmore College. April 1, 1864.
1868 Oliver Holt, Sr., (1796-1868) grave
1870 Atlas of
Delaware County, Pennsylvania
Springfield plate, shows Woolen Factory on property of Heirs of Oliver Holt and land owned by John Ogden.
1877 John Ogden (1788-September 30, 1877), Grave
Times, May 1, 1878, Page 3.
Application will be made to the Governor to charter an incorporation called "The West Hill Land Company;" the object of which is to purchase and sell real estate in the county.
1878 Articles of incorporation of the West Hill Land Company, June 25, 1878.
the line of the P. & W. C. R. R.," Chester Times, July
22, 1881, Page 3. | Part
Swarthmore in the name of the next station on the West Chester Road. The college is the most conspicuous public object hereabouts. The high hill in the distance is dotted with several handsome new stone houses, the residences of a number of the college professors. The West Hill Land Company has purchaed two hundred acres adjoining the college proper on the east. The company is effecting many improvements in the vicinity of Swarthmore. On the hill a large water works is being erected. Thomas Foulke, Prof. Beardsley and J.S. Kent occupy fine houses at Swarthmore and Sylvester Garrett is erecting for himself a valuable residence.
1881 Parrish Hall at Swarthmore College destroyed by fire, September 25, 1881.
Phoenix 1(1):5 (December 1, 1881)
New water works have been erected on the west side of Crum creek, capable of supplying 50,000 gallons daily.
1881 Building Lots of the West Hill Land Company at Swarthmore, by Thomas Hunter of Philadelphia. Shows the stone water tower on Ogden Avenue.
Record of Growth: A Monthly Journal of Material Progress
1(1):6 (January 1882)
Swarthmore. The West Hill Land Co. have purchased 200 acres adjoining the college property, and will contribute much to the growth of the village. Large water works have arisen of late, the result of the people's need. Sylvester Garrett, Charles Ogden and others have built residences of substantial proportions.
of a Delaware County Mill," The Times (Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania), May 20, 1882, Page 5.
Thomas Holt's jean and woolen mill, in Springfield township, Delaware county, took fire in the picker and card room about 7 o'clock on Thursday night. There were no fire engines in the neighborhood and in two hours the four-story stone mill was in ruins. The neighbors organized a bucket brigade and saved the dwellings of the mill hands. The loss was $28,000, on which there is an insurance of $20,000, in twelve companies. Forty hands were thrown out of work.
Death," Chester Times, July 21, 1882, Page 3.
Thomas Holt, a widely known and esteemed manufacturer of Springfield township, was found dead sitting in a chair.
1882 Thomas Holt, (1816-1882) grave. Son of Oliver Holt.
of Properties along the Phila. Wilm. & Balt. R.R. and the Phila.
& West Chester R.R., from Philadelphia to Chester.
Plate 16: Part of Springfield Township, shows Swarthmore College, reservoir on Ogden Avenue, and eight houses on the West Hill property. Also shows land of the Holt Estate with an old mill on Whiskey Run. This property was owned later by the Springfield Water Company, and the old mill may have been the location of the pumping station for the 1881 stone water tower.
Intelligencer 40(11):170-172 (April 28, 1883)
Annual meeting at Swarthmore. The Minutes of the Nineteenth Annual Meeting of the stockholders at Swarthmore College, held Twelfth mo. 5th, 1882, have just been published.
The new water works, referred to last year, are not completed, and are supplying the tanks daily with about 40,000 gallons, being an excess over the united capacity of the tanks of 12,000 gallons.
Weekly Recorder (Conshohocken, Pennsylvania), June 16, 1883,
The West Hill Land Association is making extensive improvements to their water supply. The association now owns six houses valued at from $5,000 to $15,000 and is doing much to build up Swarthmore.
1884 History of Delaware County, Pennsylvania, by Henry Graham Ashmead
of application for incorporation," Chester Times (Chester,
Pennsylvania), December 8, 1885, Page 3.
Separate notices were published for the Radnor Water Company, Nether Providence Water Company, Springfield Water Company, Haverford Water Company, Ridley Water Company, Delaware Water Company (Darby Township), and Upper Darby Water Company.
The names of the incorporators for the above are: Geoffrey P. Denis, L. Engle Cochran, Jr., Richard Peters, Jr., Clifford Stanley Sims, and John C. Sims, Jr.
of application for incorporation," Chester Times (Chester,
Pennsylvania), December 21, 1885, Page 3.
Separate notices were published for the Darby Water Company, Clifton Water Company, and Sharon Hill Water Company
The names of the incorporators for the above are: Geoffrey P. Denis, Henry F. Kenney, L. Engle Cochran, Jr., William C. Bullock and John C. Sims, Jr.
1886 Articles of Incorporation of the Springfield Water Company, January 4, 1886.
Telegraph, January 4, 1886, Page 1.
This morning the following corporations were were chartered at the State Department:
The Haverford water company, the Radnor water company, the Springfield water company, and the Lower Marion water company, all of Delaware county, with a capital stock of $1,000 each.
Telegraph, January 11, 1886, Page 4.
The following corporations were chartered at the State Department to-day:
Delaware water company, of Chester; capital stock $1,000. Among the directors is John C. Sims, jr., of Philadelphia.
Upper Darby water company, of Chester, $1,000 capital.
Granted," Chester Times, January 12, 1886, Page 4.
A charter was granted at Harrisburg to the Delaware Water Company of the township of Darby, and the Upper Darby Water Company of the township of Upper Darby, and which includes Clifton township. The subscribers to the certificate of incorporation are G.P. Denis, I. Engle Cochran, Richard Peters, Jr., Clifford Stanley Sims and John C. Sims, Jr..
1886 Recorded charter of Springfield Water Company, January 18, 1886.
1886 February 13, first meeting of stockholders
Companies Organize," Chester Times (Chester, Pennsylvania),
February 15, 1886, Page 3.
The Delaware County Water Companies met on Saturday at the office of Morgan Lewis, in Philadelphia, and organized by the election of G.P. Denis, William B. Buck, H.F. Kenney, R. Peters, jr., I. E. Cochran and Charles E. Hubbard as directors. The Board of Directors organized by the election of G. P. Denis as president and William B. Buck secretary and treasurer. These companies are for the purpose of supplying water to the various cities, towns, villages, boroughs, &c., of this county.
County Water Supply," The Chester Evening Times, March 6,
1886, Page 3.
John M. Broomall in a letter to the Advocate discusses the water supply of the county, and says that he is not impressed with the proposition to supply Chester with water from the streams in the county. The capacity of Crum creek is placed at one and a half millions.
Sale. Building sites at Swarthmore," Friends' Intelligencer
43:640 (Tenth Month 9, 1886)
Also - just finished, 11 roomed house,modern convenience, sanitary plumbing, J.W. Ogden.
1887 March 30, second meeting of stockholders, "the committee to whom was referred the sale of the several charters owned and controlled by the water companies in Delaware and Montgomery counties reported an offer by Comegys & Lewis, of the city of New York, of fifty-five thousand dollars ($55,000) in the increased capital stock of the Lower Merion Water Company, the Radnor Water Company, and the Haverford Water Company, for all our right, title and interest in said companies, with the agreement that they, the said Comegys & Lewis, should build a complete set of water works sufficient for each of said companies, furnishing all the means requisite therefor, for the consideration of all the stock and bonds which they, the said companies, may legally acquire by such increase of capital stock."
1887 August 13, third meeting of stockholders
1887 August 17, meeting of stockholders, approved increasing capital stock of Lower Merion Water Company to $500,000.
1887 August 23, meeting of stockholders, agreed to sell three charters to Comegys & Lewis.
1887 August 27, meeting of stockholders, contract of sale to Comegys & Lewis.
Sale. Building sites at Swarthmore," Friends' Intelligencer
44:383 (Sixth Month 18, 1887)
38 trains daily, good society, good water, board walks, and lamps. West Hill Land Co. J.W. Ogden.
Telegraph, September 28, 1887, Page 4.
Certificates of increase of capital stock in the cases of Lower Merion water company (from $1,000 to $500,000), the Haverford water company (from $100 to $100,000) and the Radnor water company (from $1,000 to $100,000) were filed in the State Department. The increases are for the purpose of establishing water works in the suburbs of Philadelphia.
Pipe Company Incorporated," Courier-Post (Camden, New
Jersey), January 30, 1889, Page 1.
Articles of incorporation have been filed in the county clerk's office by the American Pipe Manufacturing Company, with an authorized capital of $1,000,000, of which $2,000 is to be paid in. The company proposes to manufacture patented hydraulic pipe and other pipes for use of gas, gas, electric light, &c. The incorporators are Edwin F. Partridge, Nathan B. Cox, William S. Perot, Jr., David J. Hoar, Joseph S. Keen, Jr., and Charles S. Farnum, of Philadelphia, Joseph D. Hawley, of Media; William M. Paul, Moorestown, and Clifford Stanley Sims, Mt. Holly.
Times (Chester, Pennsylvania), May 3, 1889, Page 3.
The West Hill Water Company of Swarthmore will apply for a charter. The company will supply water to the public in Springfield.
Phoenix, June 1, 1889, Page 1.
Commencement Exercises, Sixth Month, 18th, 1889.
"Plans for an Increased Water Supply for Swarthmore Village," Willis Willson Vail (excused from speaking) [Vail became a civil engineer and noted photographer, see "Willis W. Vail, The Farmville Herald, September 1, 2011]
1889 Indenture from West Hill Land Company to Springfield Water Company for reservoir on Ogden Avenue, dated June 8, 1889, Deed Book Q30[?], page 334. [See Deed Book C8, Pages 405-407]
Harrisburg Daily Independent, June 20, 1889, Page 4.
Charters granted: The Ridley Park Cold Spring Water Company of Ridley Park, Capital $25,000.
Water Company Enjoined," The Philadelphia Inquirer, August
12, 1889, Page 8.
Lower Merion Water Company, Comegys & Lewis
Water Company, Proceedings to Increase Capital Stock from $1,000 to
$25,000, October 3, 1889
C. Edgar Ogden, Charles G. Ogden, J. W. Ogden, Richard T. Ogden, and Richard Ogden own the entire capital stock of said company.
Times (Chester, Pennsylvania), October 25, 1889, Page 3.
If you have stock in the Springfield Water Company you must pay 20 percent. before November 1.
1889 Indenture from William J. Call and his wife to the Springfield Water Company for mill and 44 acres of land, dated December 18, 1889, Deed Book C4, page 350. [See Deed Book C8, Pages 405-407]
1889 Atlas of
Properties along the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore R.R.,
Baltimore & Ohio R.R., Phila. & West-Chester R.R., and part of
Philada. & Reading R.R., Philadelphia to Chester and Elwyn Sta.
Plate 16: Springfield Township, shows Holt Estate.
Plate 18: Swarthmore, Shows Ogden Avenue Water Tower
Sale at Swarthmore," Friends' Intelligencer 47:256 (Fourth
Month 5, 1890)
14-roomed, stone-pointed house; all modern improvements except gas; spring water introduced. J.W. Ogden, West Hill Land Co.
1890 Decree of dissolution of the West Hill Land Company, December 22, 1890.
Swarthmore Phoenix 10(9):243 (April, 1891)
Swarthmore village is now mainly supplied by water from the works of the Springfield Water Company, pumping from Whiskey Run.
1891 In re Bryn Mawr Water Company, Department of State of Pennsylvania, Montgomery County Law Reports 8:41 (December 10, 1891) | also here |
and Popular Philadelphians
Page 124: American Pipe Manufacturing Company.
The American Pipe Manufacturing Co. was originally established in Philadelphia in 1886, but it was not until January 31st, 1889, that it was incorporated under the laws of New Jersey with an authorized capital of $1,000,000, of which $425,000 was paid in. It is one of the largest and most enterprising companies of its kind in the country, and by able and efficient management the success attained has been very satisfactory. Properly speaking, the business of the company is two distinct and separate branches, one being the manufacture of pipe for water, gas, and other underground uses—the other, building and erecting complete systems of water-works for cities, towns and villages. The latter is by no means the lesser of the two, in fact it is probably the greater, as the construction of works is attended oftentimes with considerable trouble, and engineering difficulties which must be overcome to meet with success. In addition to the manufacture of pipe, and the construction of water and other works, the company will build works upon the franchise being duly awarded to them by ordinances, and either operate them, or lease, or sell them on such terms as may be convenient to the towns or cities in which they have been built. The company's specialty in the manufacturing line is the "Phipps Hydraulic Pipe;" no better pipe for all underground conduits has ever been offered to the public.
Since the American Pipe Manufacturing Company have been engaged in manufacturing this pipe they have constructed many water-works, the piping system being exclusively laid with their pipe varying in quantity from 5 to 40 miles in each works, and either own stock in or control the majority of them, among which are the works located at Derry, Pa.; Moorestown, Riverton and Palmyra, N. J.; Greensburg, Irwin, Ridley Park and Swarthmore, Pa.; Skaneateles and Jordan, N. Y.; Tallahassee, Florida; Greenwich, Alabama; Greenville, S. C.; Dawson, Georgia, and many others scattered about the country.
News 27:235 (March 5, 1892)
Ridley Park, Pa.- It is reported that the American Pipe Manufacturing Co., Philadelphia, has secured the contract of the Ridley Park Cold Spring Water Co. The former company, it is said, is connected with a project for consolidating several plants in the eastern and southern sections of Delaware County. When the scheme is carried out one pumping station will lift water to a reservoir from which the several towns will be supplied by gravity.
1892 In re Lower Merion Water Company, March 7, 1892, Montgomery County Law Reports 8:54
Philadelphia Inquirer, March 7, 1892, Page 7.
The American Pipe Manufacturing Company, of this city, will erect a pumping station in the upper end of Delaware county.
Issued Yesterday," The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 8, 1892,
The Citizen's Water Company, of Darby Boro; Highland Water Company of Ridley, People's Water Company of Darby township; Tinicum Water Company; Penn Water Company, of Sharon Hill; and Consumers' Water Company, of Upper Darby.
Philadelphia Inquirer, April 7, 1892, Page 2.
The Bryn Mawr Water Company, the Merion Water Company, and the Neversink Mountain Hotel Company were chartered at Harrisburg yesterday.
Philadelphia Inquirer, April 18, 1892, Page 7.
On June 4, a meeting of the stockholders of the Springfield Water Company is to be held at Swarthmore College to vote upon the question of increasing the capital stock of the company from $25,000 to $250,000. The idea is to furnish water to all the towns on the P. W. & B. Railroad down to Darby.
Water Company, increase of Indebtedness to not exceed $450,000, June
American Pipe Manufacturing Company owns 608 of the 755 shares, Richard T. Ogden owns 34.
1892 Springfield Water Company, increase of Capital Stock from $25,000 to $250,000, June 3, 1892.
Times (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), June 16, 1892, Page 1.
All of the local water companies recently chartered in Delaware county, including those in Upper Darby, Radnor, Ridley, and Springfield township were merged yesterday into a single company, called the Springfield Water Company, a corporation owned and controlled by the American Pipe Company.
Delaware County Water Deal," The North American, June 16,
1892, Page 6.
Special Dispatch to The North American.
Media, June 15. - The various local water companies of Delaware County, which had been chartered recently, were merged to-day under one name, the Springfield Water Company, a corporation owned by the American Pipe Company, in which Francis M. Brooke, of the firm of F. M. & H. Brooke, and Edward F. Partridge, of Philadelphia, and Joseph W. Hawley, Walker Y. Hoopes and William H. Miller of Media, are largely interested. This deal takes in all of the county companies, including those in Springfield, Ridley, Darby, Upper Darby, Radnor and Haverford townships.
News 27:643 (June 23, 1892)
Delaware Co., Pa.- Companies supplying Clifton, Darby, Radnor, Swarthmore, Ridley Park and some other towns in this county have consolidated as the Springfield Water Co. The American Pipe Manufacturing Co., Philadelphia, is said to be behind the consolidation.
1892 Indenture from the Springfield Water Company to the American Pipe Manufacturing company for reservoir building on Ogden Avenue along with mill and 44 acres of land, dated June 30, 1892, Deed Book C8, pages 405-407.
1892 Stockholders approval of sale of franchises to the Springfield Water Company for the Citizen's Water Company, of Darby Borough; People's Water Company of Darby township; Consumers' Water Company, of Upper Darby; Penn Water Company, of Sharon Hill; Ridley Park Cold Spring Water Company; Highland Water Company of Ridley; and Tinicum Water Company. July 1, 1892
and Water Engineering 12(21) (November 19, 1892)
In the near future nearly all the residents of Eastern Delaware county, Pa., will be drinking Crum Creek water. Through the extensive arrangements made by the Springfield Water Company, a supply of pure water will flow through its fifty miles of pipes, to such towns as Morton, Ridley Park. Swarthmore, Clifton, Upper and Lower Derby, Lansdowne, Sharon Hill, Rutledge, Kellyville, Fernwood, Norwood, Prospect Bark, Glenolden, Collingdale, Oakeola, Moore, Colwyn, Yeadon, Burmont, Secand, Millmont. etc. Fire hydrants have been placed in great numbers and at such desirable points that no fire can occur at any point of the section of country mentioned, that a strong stream of water cannot immediately be brought to bear on it. The cost of this great water system will be nearly $400,000, and it is estimated that about 2000 houses will be supplied with all the water needed for domestic purposes. The new distributing reservoir, about one mile from Morton, is ready to receive water from Crum Creek, the source of supply, through a twelve-inch pipe, the water being pumped from the creek by an extensive steam pump. The reservoir, which has a capacity of 2,000,000 gallons, has an elevation of 324 feet. It is 200 feet in diameter and fourteen feet deep, and the embankment is eleven feet wide on top, to which there is a graceful slope well sodded. The reservoir was three months in construction. A division wall runs through the centre of the reservoir, so that any repairs that may he necessary can he made with the water shut off in one-half of the basin, and the other half remains full. The outlet pipes are so arranged that water can he taken in or let out by either pipe, independent of the other. The reservoir is circular in form and not square, as most reservoirs are, and this form saves thirteen per cent in cost. Adjoining the reservoir is a circular stone tower-like gate house, filled with hydraulic machinery and containing a “scum pot” to prevent the passage of any objectionable matter into the reservoir. It is estimated that at present the quantity of water required to furnish the daily wants of the locality indicated will be about 400,000 gallons, hut it is believed that in the early future not less than 700,000 gallons per diem will he required. Civil Engineer J. W. Ledoux had charge of the work.
1892 Indenture from American Pipe Manufacturing Company to Richard T. Ogden for reservoir building and lot, December 31, 1892. Deed Book X8, pages 64-65.
1892 Farm line and
Borough Atlas of Delaware County, Pennsylvania
Page 1: Map of Delaware County showing townships
Plate 12: Springfield township, showing Whiskey Run and property owned by the Springfield Water Co. (former Holt estate)
Plate 13: Swarthmore borough, showing Swarthmore College and 1881 water tower owned by Springfield Water Company
Plate 21: Nether Providence Township, showing Crum Creek and Dick's Run.
from Manual of American Water Works,
Built in '89 by Springfield Water Co. Reconstructed in '92. Supplies the following places: Darby, Sharon Hill, Glenolden, Norwood, Prospect Park, Ridiey Park, Moores, Crumiynne, Boone, Collingdale, Oakeola, Llanwellyn, Holmes, Folson, Milmont, Fairview, Fernwood, Landsdown, Burmont, Clifton, Adamsford, Primos, Secand, Morton, Swarthmore, Llanerch, Rutledge, Kellyville, Colwyn.
Map Showing the Development of the City and Suburbs of Philadelphia
Page 4: Shows Ogden Avenue water tower and Springfield Water Company property
Quaker Ogdens in America: David Ogden of Ye Goode Ship "Welcome" and
His Descendants 1682-1897, by Charles Burr Ogden | not
to be confused with John
Melchior Ogden (1791-1882) |
Page 79: John Ogden sold 50 acres of his extensive land to Swarthmore College in 1864 to square and enlarge its property. Upon his death the remainder, of over 600 acres, was divided into eleven tracts. Six of his children selected tracts for their personal use; the remaining five tracts were taken in charge by a land company, organized as the West Hill Laud Co., — so named because the land adjoined the West property, where Benjamin West, the famous early American painter, was born. Every deed granted provided that no "brewery, distillery or drinking saloon," or other specified nuisances should ever be erected on the land, nor house costing less than $3000. The directors of the company were William, John W., Richard T., and Charles G. Ogden, Thomas S. Foulke, William M. Thomas, Arthur Beardsley, and Thomas Walter. This enterprise was very successful, and was the origin of the borough of Swarthmore, to which name "West Hill" gave way, as Swarthmore College stands adjacent.
Phoenix, October 5, 1899, Pages 7-8.
The new filter which has been built near the Wallingford bridge was probably our most needed improvement. The supply of water for the college is furnished by a small stream of spring water which empties into the Crum near that place. The water, though comparatively pure, was rendered so cloudy by each rain as to be of no practical good. The new filter rectified this nicely, however; so a bountiful supply of fresh, clear water is now assured.
Phoenix, October 25, 1900, Page 7.
There is some apprehension felt by the officials over the water supply for the college, as there is some danger of the low water of the Crum failing to furnish sufficient power for the pumping of the spring water to the buildings. While a famine is not yet imminent, yet the probabilities of such is a source of concern.
1901 Indenture from Richard T. Ogden to Anna Travilla Speakman for reservoir building and lot Ogden Avenue, dated November 18, 1901, Deed Book H10, pages 250-251.
1909 Stone water tower (1881) converted to private residence, see 2019 reference below.
1909 Atlas Part of Springfield Township, shows Springfield Water Company pumping station and Marple Hill Reservoir. Also early reservoir owned by Springfield Consolidated Water Company with written notations of its sale.
1909 Atlas of
Delaware County East of Ridley Creek, 1909-1910
Plate 22: North Part of Swarthmore Borough, showing former water tower owned by Anna T. Speakman on Ogden Avenue, across the street from residence of J.W. Ledoux, engineer for the Springfield Consolidated Water Company. Also shows main water pipes.
Plate 24: Part of Springfield Township, shows Springfield Water Company pumping station and Marple Hill Reservoir. Also early reservoir owned by Springfield Consolidated Water Company.
1909 Sanborn Fire Protection Map of Swarthmore, January 1909. Includes details of the water system.
College Note," Friends Intelligencer 37(49):744 (Twelfth
month 3, 1910)
The college has caused to be erected a large iron water tower in the woods just to the left of the entrance to Whitier Field and directly back of the tennis court. This tower, which is high enough to force a strong pressure on the fourth floor of Parrish, is intended as a protection against fire. It consists of a tall iron framework, supporting a huge iron basin, which is capable of holding 60,000 gallons of water.
of the Annual Meeting of the Corporation and Reports of the President
and of the Treasurer of Swarthmore College
Page 21: Water Supply. Part of the college water supply comes from the Springfield Water Company, and part from our own plant. It was supposed in the beginning that no one would use for drinking purposes any but the Springfield water. This water was also used in case of emergency for other purposes, as at times we did not have enough from our own plant to supply the demand. During the drought of the summer we were dependent altogether upon the Springfield supply. This was due to lack of power. Inasmuch as it is important to prevent students and others using any but the purest water for drinking purposes, it was decided that, in the interest of good health, the entire supply of college water should be purified. A contract was made with the Roberts Filter Manufacturing Company of Darby, Pennsylvania, who installed a filter of the rapid mechanical type, with a capacity of 100 gallons per minute, and a building large enough to increase the capacity to 200 gallons per minute by the addition of filtering material, etc. This plant has been installed at a cost of about $3200.
It is believed now that our own water will be fully as pure as the Springfield water, and can thus be used for all purposes.
1914 A history of
Delaware County, Pennsylvania, and its people, by John W. Jordan
Pages 373-374: Springfield Township Mills - After the destruction of the mill by fire, conveyance of the real estate was made to Thomas and Oliver Holt, who erected a three story stone factory. In 1853 an addition was made to the mill, machinery installed, and about fifty persons employed. After the retirement of Oliver Holt from the firm, Thomas Holt continued the business until May 18, 1882, when fire again destroyed the mill. The property passed to Thomas Holt's estate after his death.
Halcyon: Published Annually by the Junior Class at Swarthmore
Page 11: A new water filter has been erected, so that not only the Springfield water supply, but the water from our own plant, is wholesome for all purposes, including drinking.
Swarthmorean, December 28, 1917, Page 1.
Council Notes. The Secretary was instructed to write the Springfield Water Company regarding the overflow of their tank into Ogden Avenue.
1920 The Register of Swarthmore College - 1862-1920. Being a biographical dictionary of the board of managers, the former members of the faculty, the graduates and non-graduates of Swarthmore College.
1922 Aerial view of the Swarthmore College campus, shows 1910 water tower.
1924 Sale of Springfield Water Company to Springfield Consolidated Water Company. February 4, 1924.
1929 "Drive for College Endowment Fund Progressing Rapidly: Paint Water Tower," The Swarthmorean, May 3, 1929, Page 1.
1929 Swarthmore College: Past, Present, Future
1929 Atlas of
Delaware County, vol. 1
Plate 31: Swarthmore Borough, shows water pipes
Plate 32: Part of Springfield Township, showing pumping station and reservoir of the Springfield Consolidated Water Company.
1933 "Springfield Water Co. Grew From Private Plant," Chester Times (Chester, Pennsylvania), October 3, 1933, Page 1 | Part 2 Page 9 |
1933 "Early History of
Water Supply Told," The
Swarthmorean, October 20, 1933, Page 4. [Reprint of the
October 3, 1933 article above, without attribution]
Springfield Water Supply begun by Swarthmore College Professors for Private Use.
Fifty years ago several professors of Swarthmore College and a few of their neighbors built a little private water works to furnish their own homes and the College. This was the origin and beginning of the Springfield Water supply delivered now by the Philadelphia Suburban Water Company through a vast network of pipes totalling more than one thousand miles to practically all the territory surrounding Philadelphia.
Fifty years ago Swarthmore was a village forming a part of Springfield Township and, like other similar communities, had few, if any, public improvements, all the residents having to depend upon wells for the water they required in their homes.
There is no formal record of the particular individual who first suggested a supply of running water to replace the inconvenient and possibly dangerous wells, but it is interesting to visualize the discussions which took place before the undertaking was started and to picture the part which the housewives took in the discussion and the influence they probably exerted.
But it is known that as the project matured and developed a certain small spring not far from the College was selected as a suitable source of supply, necessary land was purchased, a tiny pumping station was erected and several hundred feet of small pipe were laid in the streets of the Village of Swarthmore and on private property, and eventually water from this spring was carried under pressure to the homes of those who participated in the enterprise.
Again we have to draw more or less on our imagination and knowledge of human nature to picture the effect which this running water in a limited number of homes had upon those in the neighborhood who still had to go to the hand pump and obtain their domestic supply from the old time well.
In any event, we know that soon others asked to be permitted to share the expense and participate in the benefits of this running water supply. This meant, however, an enlargement of the works and the raising of more money, steps which could be more easily accomplished by taking advantage of the Corporation Laws of the state devised and enacted specially to facilitate such purposes.
Accordingly a Water Company was organized, a charter was applied for and the franchise was granted on January 4, 1886 to the Springfield Water Company, giving to that Company the right to supply water in the Township of Springfield, Delaware County.
With the means thereby placed at their disposal, the officers of this newly born Water Company were able to raise enough money to lay additional pipes, so that quite a number of others in the community, besides those first participating, were joined to the system and received water from the spring by means of the original tiny pumping station.
It did not take long for this new Water Company to discover that a public water supply creates its own demand and must always be increasing its resources and facilities. The original spring was soon outgrown and a new source of supply became imperative. Whiskey Run, a tributary of Crum Creek above Swarthmore, appeared adequate and suitable for the time being at least and the works were relocated upon that stream.
But again the axiom that a public water supply creates its own demand was demonstrated and neighboring communities outside of the Village of Swarthmore asked to be permitted to come within the fold.
Ridley Park, moreover, where the example of Swarthmore had been followed three years later by the incorporation of the Ridley Park Cold Spring Water Company in 1889, was experiencing a shortage of water, and a larger enterprise was necessary.
In other words, cooperation, rather than competition, seemed to be the solution of the water supply for the region when considered as a whole.
But none of the officers of either the Springfield Water Company or the Ridley Park Cold Spring Water Company were experienced in water supply matters nor in the collateral problems of raising the money for the financing of a large undertaking. Accordingly, various concerns engaged in the business of water supply were asked to consider the matter and make proposals for shouldering the responsibilities and taking over the whole problem of selecting and developing an adequate water supply system for the several communities in need of a public supply.
A number of proposals were received and that of the American Pipe Manufacturing Company, a concern specializing in work of this kind and with wide experience and a successful record, was accepted. This Company put its experienced engineers into the field and, after careful surveys and studies, selected Crum Creek as the source best adapted to existing conditions and adequate for future development when the demand for pure and wholesome water would have spread far beyond the communities originally supplied and when the development of the eastern portion of Delaware County would have outstripped the vision of those who, in the early 1890's, felt that Whiskey Run was an adequate source of supply.
The point selected for taking the water from Crum Creek and the building of the works for filtering and pumping it was where the Beatty Hollow road, connecting the Baltimore Pike with the Sproul Highway, crosses that stream.
For more than one hundred years there had been a mill pond and mill at this site and the existing structures were adaptable for transformation into a water supply plant.
Here the Crum Creek works have remained, though marvelous changes have taken place following the growth and development of Delaware County, and culminating in the construction of the Springton Reservoir a few miles up stream, a beautiful body of water of nearly four billion gallons, all dedicated to the public water supply of this portion of Suburban Philadelphia.
History of Swarthmore College: The First Generation, 1869-1902,
by William I. Hill (Unpublished)
Pages 342-344: Just beside the West House (on the south-east) was a fine spring; and it is probably to its enlargement that the report of 1879 refers as follows: "An increased supply of water has been obtained by digging a large well near the College, and also by constructing a new reservoir near the railroad, from which an additional supply of pure spring water can be obtained when required." The site of this reservoir and one source of its water were probably near the willow trees and their springs, which formed a long-continued beauty spot upon the south-east campus.
The Great Fire occurred in September, 1881, but in December of that year, the board reported the following addition to the campus: "New water works have recently been erected through the generosity of two of our friends. For this purpose several acres of land were purchased on the west side of Crum Creek, from which we obtain a fine stream of of never-failing spring water, which is forced to the top of the college by a Turbine wheel, designed and constructed by one of our own graduates of the Scientific Department. This will supply at the highest point in the building fifty thousand gallons of water per day, a quantity which far exceeds the largest demand ever made for college uses."
Page 345: Although the Fire was a heavy flow, an necessitated concentration upon restoring the main building, the campus was not neglected; for in 1882 the board stated: "The new water works, referred to last year, are not completed, and are supplying the tanks daily with about 40,000 gallons, being an excess over the united capacity of the banks of 12,000 gallons.
Pages 346-347: More land as a source of water-supply was needed, and the board reported in 1887: "The College obtains almost all of its supply of water from the property known as Strath Haven Dam, including three acres, together with its water privileges, which property is leased from Isaac S. Clothier, with the option of purchasing it as the end of the lease, which expires Fifth month 3d, 1889. As this property is indispensable to the College, the Board desire to give notice that it is the intention of the authorities to make make application at the next meeting of the Stockholders for authority to purchase the same."
The Board reported in 1888 on this proposal as follows: "The Stockholders at their last meeting, approved of a stock vote being taken for the purchase of the Strath-Haven Hill property now leased from Isaac H. Clothier, upon which the water works of the College are situated.
"The Board recommends that in place of this the Stockholders approve of the purchase of the entire property, about thirty-five acres, including all water rights, for fourteen thousand ($14,000) dollars, and that notice be given that a stock vote will be taken by the subject at a special meeting to be held at Philadelphia on Third month 12th, 1889."
The next year, the report was made: "The Strath-Haven Hill property has been purchased by the College, subject to a mortgage of ten thousand (10,000) dollars..."
1935 "Professors Founded Big Water Co.," The Philadelphia Inquirer, December 2, 1935, Page 13
1936 Warren Mathews Foote (1872-1938) grave. He bought the former Ogden Avenue water works building and had it renovated around 1920.
1951 "The Professors Who Wanted Running Water," Chester Times (Chester, Pennsylvania), September 7, 1951, Section C, Page 21.
Swarthmoreean (January 27, 1967)
Page 5: Philadelphia Suburban Water Company advertisement
House, 530 Cedar Lane, National Register of Historic Places
#79002223 | Newer version here
| and here |
The house then went through a succession of seven owners until in 1806 it was sold to John Ogden for £6,000. John was the grandson of David Ogden, who came over with Penn on the Welcome.
The Ogdens owned and occupied the house from 1804 until 1923. During that period of 120 years the occupants of the house had a profound effect upon the social, economic and political life of the community. John Ogden and his successors were among the most substantial landowners and farmers in Springfield Township. When Swarthmore College was incorporated, April 1, 1864 by act of the Pennsylvania Legislature, John Ogden was among the corporate directors. Fifty of the 250 acres of land purchased by the college were from John Ogden's extensive holdings.
Richard was associated with his brothers, William, John W. and Charles G. in the establishment of the West Hill Land Company. This enterprise was very successful and was the origin of the Borough of Swarthmore to which the name, "West Hill" gave way.
College: An Informal History, by Richard J. Walton
Page 9: Life at Swarthmore in those remote days was described for the Phoenix in 1952 by Samuel Seaman, class of 1878, then a 95-year-old alumnus. The girls lived in the east wing, the boys in the west. The dining room has a hand ump on each side for drinking water. The washrooms had water only between 5 and 8 p.m., and the students helped with cooking and baking.
1986 Reflections on Water: A Centennial History of Philadelphia Suburban Water Company, by Jerry A. Sacchetti
Creek: Past, Present & Future, prepared by the
Chester-Ridley-Crum Watersheds Association
The parent Springfield Water Company originated in the early 1880's when some Swarthmore College professors "built a small pumping station at the site of a spring in a nearby field and laid pipes to their homes". As demand for the convenient service increased, the pumping station was moved to Whiskey Run, which enters Crum Creek from the east, north of Baltimore Pike.
 History of the PSW Co. and details of operation from two of the company's publications: Water: Lifeblood of your Community and Crum Creek Supply
Phoenix (Swarthmore College) 3(2):1 (September 8, 1989)
Now the old and new water towers are in parallel operation.
1991 "From one tower, a home and a utility," The Philadelphia Inquirer, October 13, 1991, Page 6DC.
Illustrated: A Centennial History
Page 15: In 1881, the West Hill Company together with help from several college professors built a small gravity-feed station to supply water to their homes. As demand grew, the group was incorporated as the Springfield Water Company in 1886. Within a few years it was apparent that the facility could not handle the growing population, and the facility moved out of Swarthmore. The company continued to grow and became Springfield Consolidated Water Company and eventually Philadelphia Suburban Water Company. The three story water tower was converted into a house and subsequently enlarged and renovated for Warren M. Foote by architect Walter F. Price, brother of William L. Price, in an Arts and Crafts-related style that the Prices favored.
Photo caption: West Hill Water Tower, 1881, now incorporated into the residence at 540 Ogden Avenue.
2003 Conservation and Stewardship Plan for the Crum Woods of Swarthmore College
Township, Delaware County | also
Page 39: In 1881, the West Hill Water Tower was a small gravity-fed water station, built to supply new homes of the West Hill Land Company. In 1886, the newly formed Springfield Water Company gained control of the tower. Later, the tower was converted into a home for Warren Foote. It remains on the corner of Walnut Lane and Ogden Avenue in Swarthmore. In 1925, the Springfield Water Company was renamed the Philadelphia Suburban Water Company.
Lower picture - This c. 1890 view of the West Hill houses was taken from Parrish Hall, with Trotter and the meetinghouse in the foreground. At center is the water tower, converted into a house around 1900. It was later enlarged and renovated by architect Walter F. Price, brother and partner of Rose Valley architect William Lightfoot Pric, in the arts and crafts style that the prices favored.
2005 Crum Creek Watershed Conservation Plan
Borough, by Susanna K. Morikawa and Patricia C. O'Donnell
Page 28: Building Lots of the West Hill Land Company at Swarthmore, by Thomas Hunter of Philadelphia
Page 29: West Hill Land Company
Page 32: In 1881, the West Hill Land Company and several college professors built a small pumping station to supply water to the area. The group was incorporated in 1886 as the Springfield Water Company. Within a few years, the facility was moved out of Swarthmore to accommodate increased population. The Springfield Water Company eventually became Philadelphia Suburban Water Company, now part of Aqua Pennsylvania.
Page 44: Swarthmore Improvement Company
of the Findings of the Delaware County Historic Resources Survey for
West Hill Water Works, Foote House
Architect: Walter Ferris Price
1881 stone tower converted to private residence, 1909
The Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College holds the general reference files of the Swarthmore Historical Society, which includes one folder titled "Water Company," in Series 7: Miscellaneous Subject Files, Box 16.
College Campus Map, shows Whiskey Run north of campus and Dick's Run
on the west side of Crum Creek.
© 2019 Morris A. Pierce