Documentary History of American Water-works

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Middle Atlantic States Pennsylvania Towanda

Towanda, Pennsylvania

Towanda was settled in 1724 and incorporated as a borough in 1828..

The Towanda Gas and Water Company was incorporated in 1859 by M. C. Mercur, Allen McKean, Gordon F. Mason, John F. Means, Ulysses Mercur, James McFarlane, C. L. Ward, Joseph Powell, John A. Codding, E. R. Myer, William Mix, and Joseph D. Montanye with "exclusive authority to supply with gas light or water, the borough of Towanda and its vicinity, in the county of Bradford."  This company did no work.

The borough granted a water works ordinance to Solon L. Wiley on October 28, 1879, whereupon Wiley incorporated the the Towanda Water Works Company on December 1, 1879.   Wiley had built four water systems before gaining the Towanda franchise, was building three others along with the Towanda works, and later built five others before legal difficulties stymied his work.  The company a gravity system using cast-iron pipes.  The elevated springs that were the source of water proved insufficient and a pump was added to supply water from the Susquehanna river as necessary.  The quality of water was poor, and the town attempted to have the franchise annulled, but the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled against them.

The system was sold in 1891 to Charles L. Goodhue of Massachusetts, who rebuilt the system to draw water from the Eilenberger springs about 16 miles distant.  Goodhue sold the system in 1895 to George Washington Kipp and Kipp's brother-in-law Edwin Floyd Kizer.  Kipp sold his share to Kizer in 1911, shortly before he died. Kizer died in 1923, and it is not known who owned the company afterwards.

The Towanda Water Works Company was sold to Towanda Borough Municipal Authority  in 1950 for $409,870..

Water service is provided by Towanda Borough.

1859 An act to incorporate the Towanda Gas and Water Company.   April 13, 1859.

1861 An act Supplementary to an act, entitled "An Act to incorporate the Towanda Gas and Water Company," passed the thirteenth day of April, one thousand eight hundred and fifty-nine.  May 1, 1861.

1880 Wyoming Democrat (Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania), December 24, 1880, Page 3.
The Towanda Water Company are about letting water into their mains for the first time.

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

1885 Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, December 4, 1885, Page 1.
It is claimed that the water supplied by the Towanda Water Works Company is unfit for use and the borough authorities will not use it, hence the town is without a water supply.  Their recent destructive fire clearly established the need of water works and an effort will be made to secure them either from the old company or a new.

1886 Wiley for Use, etc., v. Borough of Towanda, 26 Fed. 594, February 17, 1886.  Circuit Court, Western District of Pennsylvania

1886 History of the Towandas, 1770-1886 : including the aborigines, Pennamites and Yankees together with biographical sketches and matters of general importance connected with the county seat, by Clement Ferdinand Heverly.
Pages 344-345:  THE TOWANDA GAS COMPANY Was originally chartered in 1859, as the Towanda Gas and Water Company. In 1879 the company released its water franchise in favor of the Towanda Water Company.
THE TOWANDA WATER WORKS. Was chartered in 1879. In 1879-80 the Wiley Construction Company, of Greenfield, Mass., forming a part of the Towanda Water Company, laid iron piping from Patton's Run to Towanda, receiving the water in a reservoir, from which it is distributed throughout the town as far back as Mechanic street by distributing pipes. Fifty hydrants have been placed at proper points, to protect the entire^ borough in case of fires. The water supply from Patton's Run not being sufficient for the whole year, a pumping station was put in in iS8i, which forces water from the Susquehanna to the receiving reservoir at the rate of i,200 gallons per minute. The water thus supplied the town bears a very fine chemical analysis and is used for culinary and all other purposes. The hotels, offices and 320 families are now using it. The water supply is a matter of much consideration and value to the town. E. T. Fox is President of the Company, and C. Scannell, Superintendent.

1888 Commonwealth ex rel. v. Towanda Water Works, 1 Monaghan (Pa) 500, 15 Atl Rep (Pa), 440, May 29, 1888, Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
In proceedings by quo warranto against a water company, incorporated under the Act of April 29, 1874, 434, paragraph 2, authorizing the incorporation of water companies for the supply of pure water, the information, filed in the common pleas of Dauphin county, in the name of the attorney general, averred that the water supplied by the defendant company was impure, unwholesome, etc., and claimed a forfeiture of the franchises. The answer denied these averments. The jury found a special verdict that the water furnished was “wholesome, but not pure” subject to the reserved points whether the court had jurisdiction and whether a judgment of ouster should be entered. The evidence as to the quality of the water was contradictory. The court below held that, in the absence of any application to the court of the proper county, under the Act of 1874, to require the corporation to furnish water less impure, and of any finding that the defendant willfully or negligently failed to do its duty, and in view of the contradictory evidence, judgment should be entered for the defendant.
The Act of 1874 implies, at least, that a failure to furnish pure water is not ground of forfeiture.

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

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

1891 History of Bradford County, Pennsylvania: With Biographical Selections, by Henry C. Bradsby
Page 526: The Towanda Water Works were chartered in 1879. In 1879-80 the iron pipe was laid from Patton's run to Towanda, receiving the water in a reservoir from. which it is distributed throughout the town, as far back as Mechanic street, by distributing pipes. Fifty hydrants were placed at proper points. to protect the entire borough in case of fires. The water supply from Patton's run not being sufficient for the whole year, a pumping station was put in in 1881, which forces the water from the Susquehanna to the receiving reservoir at the rate of 1,200 gallons per minute. E. T. Fox was president of the company, and C. S. Scannell, superintendent.
New water works are being rapidly built for Towanda, and this will prove one of the most important of the modern additions to the borough. The water then will come through ten-inch iron pipes a distance of sixteen miles. The Eilenberger springs, which will supply the water, gush out from under a small mountain. The spring never rises or falls winter or summer, and is a very pure crystal, soft water, said to be the best in the country. It flows a steady stream of 750,000 gallons in twenty-four hours, at least enough to supply a town with several times the population of Towanda. The water is so pure that it will not even rust t n, and the section of country is free from all drainage. The spring is located in Albany, a short distance from Laddsburg. J. J. Griffiths is superintendent. The cost of these, the finest water privileges in northern Pennsylvania, it is estimated when completed will reach nearly $200,000. Officers: J. J. Griffiths, Pres. and Supt.; N. N. Betts, Treas.; F. E. Beers, Sec.

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

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

1900 Inspection at Towanda, Bradford County, by Richard Slee, Medical Inspector, on account of insufficient and Polluted Water Supply, October 8, 1900.  Annual Report of the State Board of Health.

1901 "The Towanda Water Company," The Bradford Star (Towanda, Pennsylvania), December 5, 1901, Page 3.
It is not about time that the Towanda Water Company was made to pay its share of taxes in Towanda borough?

1902 "The Water Question," The Bradford Star (Towanda, Pennsylvania), October 16, 1902, Page 2.
Charles L. Goodhue of Massachusetts purchased the works in 1891.  Sold them in 1895 to G. W. Kipp and E. F. Kizer.

1909 Annual Report of the Commissioner of Health of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Volume 3
Pages 719-722:  Towanda Water Company Company. Application to extend its water works system.  October 6, 1908.

1911 "Water Works Changed Hands," Pittston Gazette, March 29, 1911, Page 12.
Towanda, March 29.- Congressman George W. Kipp, who with E. F. Kizer, has owned the controlling interest in the Towanda Water Works Company, has disposed of his interest to Mr. Kizer.  Mr. Kipp has been president of the company for several years.

1918 "Towanda Threatened with Water Famine," The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 1, 1918, Page 9.
Shifting ice broke the single main supplying the town.

1922 "Chemicals in Water Causes Many Complaints," The Scranton Republican, October 25, 1922, Page 17.

1931 "Towanda Water Works Must Improve Plant," Lebanon Daily News, August 10, 1931, Page 1.
Chlorinating apparatus of the liquid chlorine type.

1950 "PUC Approves Sale of Towanda Water Works," Shamokin News-Dispatch (Shamokin, Pennsylvania), November 2, 1950, Page 15.
Sold to Towanda municipal authority for $409,870.

© 2017 Morris A. Pierce