Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography
Northwestern States
South Dakota Sioux Falls

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Sioux Falls was incorporated as a village in 1876 and as a city in 1883.

The city of Sioux Falls granted an exclusive twenty-year franchise to William S. Kuhn to build water work on April 9, 1884.  He built a system that began operating in September, 1884.  The Sioux Falls Water Company was incorporated on June 26, 1884 and Kuhn transferred the system to them on July 22, 1885.  The system got off to a rocky start and the company implemented many improvements. 
Kuhn and others formed the American Water Works and Guarantee Company (Limited) in 1886.

The system was sold to the South Dakota Water Company on June 30, 1890.

After several failed attempts to take over the water system, the city held an election on November 5, 1901 at which 1,184 votes were cast in favor of building water works, with 313 opposed.

The city began construction of the new system in 1903, but a federal circuit court injunction halted work.  After the injunction was dissolved by the court of appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case, work continued and the system began operation in October, 1906.  Courts ruled that the company has no right to operate, and it suspended operations on July 1, 1908.

Water is supplied by the City of Sioux Falls

1884 "Sioux Falls Water-Works," letter by W.S. Kuhn, Jr., Engineering News 12:250-251 (November 22, 1884)

1885 Sioux Falls, from Engineering News 14:124-125 (August 22, 1885).

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

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

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

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

1899 History of Minnehaha County, South Dakota, by Dana Reed Bailey
Pages 388-393:  The Sioux Falls Water Works.

1901 The Daily Bond Buyer 24:586 (November 29, 1901)
Sioux Falls water bonds

1903 Wells v. City of Sioux Falls, et al., 16 S.D. 547, April 9, 1903, Supreme Court of the State of South Dakota

1904 Farmers' Loan & Trust Co. v. City of Sioux Falls et al., 131 Fed 890, July 11, 1904, Circuit, District of South Dakota.

1905 City of Sioux Falls et al. v. Farmers' Loan & Trust Co. et al., 136 Fed 721, March 31, 1905, Circuit Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit.

1905 Farmer's Loan and Trust company, the South Dakota Water Company, W. S. Kuhn, and Sioux Falls Water Company, appellants. vs. City of Sioux Falls, Gorge W. Burnside, Mayor, et al., Transcript of Record, June 12, 1905.  Includes many relevant documents.

1905 Farmer's Loan and Trust Co. v. City of Sioux Falls, 199 U.S. 601, October 23, 1905, United States Supreme Court, writ of certiorari denied.  Dismissed for want of jurisdiction.

1905 "Sioux Falls, S. Dak.," Fire and Water Engineering 38:344 (December 16, 1905)
On the application of the American Waterworks and Guarantee company, the United States court at Sioux Falls, S. Dak., has appointed a receiver for the South Dakota Water company, a private corporation, which for more than twenty years has supplied that city with water. The American Waterworks and Guarantee company is security for the bonds issued by the South Dakota Water company. In its complaint filed in the United States court it sets forth that the South Dakota company is now in an insolvent condition, and that it was forced to issue bonds in the sum of $300,000, which were sold to the Farmers T rust company, of New York. The complaint further sets forth that the company for which the American Waterworks and Guarantee company is security is unable to meet the next installment of interest on the bonds, amounting to $9,000. and is unable to keep up the running expenses of the plant. The court appointed as receiver of the water company, J. H. Purdy, of Pittsburg, president of the company, and inpowered him to operate the plant. The only action that can now be taken by the company against the city of Sioux Falls is to bring suit for the collection of the sum of $40,212, which is claimed to he due for water rent. The city will also have a claim against the water company for the enforced inactivity of the municipal waterworks system, the water company a year or two ago having been compelled by Judge Carland to furnish a bond to cover these damages.

1908 "Dual Water Service," Public Service: Electricity, Gas, Water, Telephones, Tramway 4:5-6 (January, 1908)
How Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is prospering with a costly municipal water works, competing for business with a private company.

1908 "Sioux Falls Water Franchise has Expired," Municipal Engineering 34(6):373-374 (June, 1908)

1908 "Water Famine Hits Sioux Falls July 1," The Mitchell Capital (Mitchell, South Dakota) July 3, 1908, Page 1.
200 consumers will go thirsty when the old water company quits.

1913 "Receiver's Sale of Judgment," Argus-Leader (Sioux Falls, South Dakota), December 16, 1913, Page 6.

1925 "Victory in Waterworks Case of 20 Years Ago was Most Expensive Ever Gained by Municipality in State," by C. O. Bailey, The Daily Argus-Leader (Sioux Falls, South Dakota) March 28, 1925, Page 13.

2016 "The Sioux Falls South Dakota Typhoid Epidemic of 1885:  Lessons in Politics and Public Health," by Henry Travers, 46th Annual Meeting of the American Osler Society, May 3, 2016

2019 Morris A. Pierce