Documentary History of American Water-works

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

Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania

Tunkhannock was incorporated as a borough in 1841

Thomas Slocum installed the first water system around 1845 using lead pipes to distribute water from a spring on his farm.

The Tunkhannock Water Company was incorporated on April 22, 1858 with Thomas Osterhout, James Kelly, C. D. Gearhart, Gould P. Parrish, R. R. Little, S. S. Winchester, Samuel Stark, George S. Tutton, and John H. Bogart appointed commissioners to establish the company "for the purpose of introducing, from the most convenient sources, into the said borough of Tunkhannock, and points adjacent thereto, a sufficient supply of pure and wholesome water."  Its property consisted of several springs on the Slocum Farm, and a system of wooden pipes leading to what was then known as the “hill district”.  

The Slocum Spring Water Company was incorporated on April 28, 1885 by W. C. Kittridge, W. E. Kiefer, D. W. Stark, Mr. Palin and others.  They had no water supply of their own but derived water through the Elk Tanning Company which drew its water from the Slocum Spring located near the Lehigh Valley Railroad tracks.

In 1870 the wooden pipes and distributing reservoir on West Street were abandoned. Then 3 inch to 8-inch diameter cast iron mains were laid on the principal streets in the lower portion of town from 1870-1885. Fire hydrants were installed and Triton Hose Company was formed to fight fires. In 1885 The Slocum Springs Water Company built a well on the Brunges Farm west of the Borough. It was enclosed with solid masonry and laid up with stone and cement. It not only supplied water to the growing community but in October of 1885 it is reported to have been a destination of choice for most people out for a Sunday walk. In September 1891, the two water companies of Tunkhannock became one as the Tunkhannock Water Company bought the Slocum Springs Water Company for $20,000 in stock. Work progressed on the development of the water distribution system in 1907 as ditching and laying pipe continued to Sunnyside Cemetery.

The Tunkhannock Water Company was acquired by Inland Utilities, Inc. on July 1, 1929.  This holding company went into receivership in 1931 and most of its Pennsylvania holdings were acquired by the Southeastern Gas and Water Company of Harrisburg.  This company offered to sell the Tunkhannock system to the borough in 1939 for $115,000, but the borough chose not to take up the offer.

The Water Company was purchased by the Tunkhannock Municipal Authority on June 15, 1973 for  $20,000. 

Water service is provided by the Tunkhannock Borough Municipal Authority.

1845 Deed, September 11, 1845. Thomas Slocum to S. D. Phelps.  The right and privilege of taking of carrying water from Slocum works on or from reservoir, if Slocum builds one near Slocum house in said Borough, to dwelling, store, [?], & premises of said Phelps.  The right to connect a pipe of 1/2" bore or caliber to main pipe or leader or reservor in which water is brought at some convenient place near Slocum dwelling.  And to have sufficient water to fill said pipes with continuous & perpetual stream.  [From Tuckhannock Water records, page 11]

1846 Deed, July 20, 1846.  Thomas & Ann Slocum to Charles Manville.  Slocum has at great expense & cost to himself, propelled, conduced & conveyed in lead pipe, the water from certain springs on North part of Slocum farm situated in Tunk Borough & Township & brough to respective dwellings desiring to purchase & procure water so propelled, conducted & conveyed to dewlling house barn & other out buildings for domestic purposes.  For consideration of $4.00 a year.  [From Tuckhannock Water records, page 11]

1858 An act to incorporate the Tunkhannock Water Company.  April 22, 1858.

1870 Tunkhannock Republican, June 8, 1870, Page 3.
The Tunkhannock Water Company have commenced the work of supplying the town with water.  Six inch mains are to be put down with four inch connections.  The water will be brought down the turnpike, instead of through the fields.  The supply of water in some parts of the borough is exceedingly limited, and we trust the work will be pushed forward with energy, as we have no doubt it will be.  The Company expect to finish the work by August.  When this is accomplished there will be plenty of water, as five large springs will be brought under tribute.  The estimated cost is from $8,000 to $10,000.

1870 Wyoming Democrat (Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania), August 24, 1870, Page 2.
Wanted.  For work on the trench of the Tunkhannock Water Company, 12 laborers.

1880 History of Luzerne, Lackawanna, and Wyoming Counties, Pa.
Pages 532-533: The Tunkhannock Water Company was chartered April 22nd, 1858, with an authorized capital of $20,000. Its first officers were: Jacob Dewitt, president; F. C. Ross, treasurer; R. R. Little, secretary. Its property consisted of the water rights on the original Slocum farm one and one-fourth miles from the village, from which point pump logs with one and a half inch bore constituted the mains and were extended only to what is known as the Hill district. After a long inactivity the outstanding stock was bought in at a nominal figure, and in 1870 F. C. Ross was chosen president, and mains of from eight to three inches diameter were laid through all of the principal streets, supplying a population of 2,000. The total expense incurred has been $20,000.

1882 Tunkhannock, from Engineering News, 9:199 (June 17, 1882)

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

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

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

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

1929 "Three Local Companies in Utility Consolidation," The Wilkes-Barre Record, June 21, 1929, Page 28.
Tunkhannock Water Company acquired by Inland Utilities, Inc.

1931 Tunkhannock New Age, May 7, 1931, Page 5.
Inland Utilities refinancing and reorganization to take place.  Went into receiver's hands in December.

1939 "Municipal Water-Works?" Tunkhannock New Age, July 13, 1929, Page 1.
Tunkhannock Water Company System Offered for sale to Borough for $115,000.

1973 Deed of sale, Tunkhannock Water Company to Tunkhannock Borough Municipal Authority, July 11, 1973.

Records of the Slocum Spring Water Company and Tuckhanock Water Company.  Thanks to Luanne Snover with the Tunkhannock Borough Municipal Authority for providing these.

© 2017 Morris A. Pierce