Germantown Water Company
N. H. Keyser
Germantown Scrapbook (L1-11)
Germantown Historical Society

Included is this typewritten text on pages 127-129:

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Erected in 1851

(Note that this paragraph is part of the typewritten page in Keyser's scrapbook.) The following article was written by the late David B. Morrell in 1889, and has never before appeared in print. The cutprinted in connection therewith, and which represented the raising of the standpipe of the Germantown Water Works, was copied from a lithograph, which was copied from a painting by Newbold H. Trotter.

(Germantown Independent-Gazette, January 13, 1899.)

The contractors for building the works were Messr. Birkinbine, Martin and Trotter, hydraulic engineers, whose place of business was located at No. 16 Arch Street, Philadelphia. Henry P.M. Birkinbine was the constructing engineer, and David B. Borrell the superintendent of construction.

At first it was contemplated to put in an eight-inch hydraulic ram, to supply Tulpehocken Street and vicinity with water, as John C. Fallon was the owner of the greater portion of the land or property on Tulpehocken Street, extending northwest to Washington Lane, on Adams Street, and from Tulpehocken Street southeast to Harvey Street, including Greene and Wayne Streets, thence southeast to Wissahickon Avenue or Township Line.

First Plan Abandoned

The first plan was to build a small dam on Paper Mill Run, or Crab Creek, as it was commonly called, to be located at a short distance southeast of Washington Lane, to supply the eight-inch hydraulic ram, build a tank at a suitable elevation to receive the water forced up by the ram, and give a sufficient head to supply the property previously described, but upon prospecting the location a number of springs were found adjacent to the run in the ravine between Washington and Walnut Lanes. After ascertaining by measurement the number of gallons the creek flowed in twenty-four hours, and estimating the number of gallons that would be produced by rainfall, it was then determined to form a company to be named and styled the Germantown Water Company.

In anticipation of obtaining a charter from the Legislature, John C. Fallon was elected President, and Christopher Fallon and others were stockholders in said company. A charter was then obtained from the Legislature of Pennsylvania, stock was sold at $50 per share, dividends payable in water rents of $3 per share per annum.

The Work Begun

The eight-inch hydraulic ram was not put in, and work was commenced in February, 1851, by digging a well at the southwestern terminus of Tulpehocken Street, twenty-one feet deep by twenty-five feet in diameter. A four-inch hole was drilled in the bottom of the well, sixteen feet deep through gneiss rock, which produced a considerable quantity of water. The well was walled with an outer and an inner dry wall; each wall was three feet thick at the bottom battening one inch in one foot, making the walls twenty-seven inches thick at the top. The space between the walls was four feet, which was filled with coarse sand in order to filter the water passing from the dam into the well. The walls were finished with coping procured from a quarry.

Located on the southwest side of the pool, opposite Tulpehocken Street, the water was dammed from the northwest side of Walnut Lane, extending northwest to the southeast side of Washington Lane. The depth of the dam, or pool, at Walnut Lane was twenty-one feet and...breast of the dam one hundred and twenty feet. The greatest breadth was two hundred and fifty feet. The water at Washington Lane was not increased in depth by reason of building the dam, but was taken as the level at that point. The clay for puddling the breast of the dam was taken from ground

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between Tulpehocken and Harvey Streets, now Greene Street. The puddling was put in dry, in layers of four inches thick, and sprinkled and rammed until compact. The breast of the dam was walled with stone. The wall was four feet thick at the bottom, battening to two feet at the top. The puddling was put in as the wall was built up and was eighteen inches thick. Drains were dug leading from the springs to the well. The drains were walled on either side and covered with flat stone, then filled with nine inches of broken stone, and nine inches of coarse sand, in order to filter the water passing from the dam into the drains conveying the water from the springs into the well. These works produced an adequate supply for Germantown of pure and limpid water, except at such times as dye water from washings at the carpet factory at Mount Airy was let down. An injunction was eventually placed upon the carpet manufacturers, prohibiting them from polluting the water in the creek.

Pumping Station built.

A pumping station was built at the southwestern terminus of Tulpehocken Street, the back wall of the pumping station fronting on the well. The second story of the pumping station was appropriated as a residence for the engineer, but owing to the heat from the boilers it was abandoned and a dwelling was built for the residence of the engineer on Tulpehocken Street a short distance northeast of the pumping station. Two fifteen-horse power high pressure engines (horizontal) of three-foot stroke, and two six-inch horizontal pumps were placed therein, each engine working one pump; also two cylinder boilers, thirty feet long by thirty inches diameter, were placed on either side of the engine room, and communicating doors were connected with the boiler room. The suction pipes were six inches inside diameter and took water from four feet below the surface of the water in the well.

The stop at the dam was put down in order to fill the dam in January, 1852. A heavy rain came whilst filling, which caused the dam to rise twelve inches per hour. The dam broke, the cause of which was the water found a way around the ten-inch discharge pipe and washed out the puddling. The dam was repaired in January and February, 1852, and as a preventative of any future break at that point flanges four feet square were placed on the ten inch discharge pipe, then filled with concrete and grouted, which is now perfect at the present time [1889] thirty-seven years since.

Stand Pipe erected.
A ten-inch supply main was laid from the pumps on Tulpehocken Street, northeast to Main Street or Germantown Avenue. A branch with a twelve-inch outlet was put in on Tulpehocken Street, 250 feet northeast of the northeast property line of Wayne Street, to supply a standpipe five feet in diameter and 127 feet high, made of boiler-plate iron in three sections of forty feet each and one of seven feet. The first section was 7-16 thick, second section 3/8 thick, third section 5/16 thick, and the seven foot section 3/16 thick. The top section of seven feet was not intended to be water tight. It was made bell-mouth, to give the pipe a finish. It was put together on the ground, then hoisted and set up in its place, August 13, 1851, by means of derricks and capstan, and bolted fast to the bed-plate with sixteen one and a half inch bolts, four bolts at each corner of the bed plate. The capacity of the standpipe at 120 feet high was 14,400 ale gallons. The bed plate was 2 1/2 inches thick, and held down by eight two-inch bolts filled with melted lead and caulked tight.

A station meter was placed in the ten-inch supply main in the pumping station for the purpose of recording the number of gallons pumped up into the standpipe each day, but it was not satisfactory, owing to the extra quantity of steam it consumed to pump against the propelling blades in the cylinder. A pressure of 135 pounds on the boilers had to be carried to do the work, which made it dangerous to carry that amount of steam, and the meter was taken out. After the meter was taken out it was not necessary to carry more than seventy pounds of steam to do the pumping.

The pipe going into the standpipe being used as the ingress and egress pipe, it caused a pulsation on the service pipes, and to remedy the evil an ingress pipe was put in the standpipe from the southeast corner of Wayne and Tulpehocken Streets in an easterly direction into the standpipe. After

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the reservoirs were completed the additional pipe into the standpipe was removed.

Eight-inch pipe was laid from Tulpehocken Street, northwest to Washington Lane on Main Street. Six-inch pipe was laid southeast on Main Street, southwest side, from Tulpehocken Street to eighty-five feet southeast of the southeast property line of School Lane. Then it was laid across Main Street to the northeast side, and reduces at Mill Street to four inches, and was continued that size to Duy's Lane, or Wister Street, and three and four inch pipe laid in other streets at that time [1851].

The Reservoirs

The height of the standpipe at 120 feet was the level of a contemplated reservoir to be built on Allen's Lane, southwest of Main Street, of a capacity of 520,000 gallons. This reservoir was built by the Water Company in 1853, and a four-inch main was laid from Washington Lane on Main Street, southwest side, northwest to Allen's Lane, and a ten-inch main was laid on Allen's Lane southwest about 700 feet to the reservoir, preparatory to building a reservoir of greater capacity, which was built by the Water Company in 1856, the capacity of which is 3,870,000 gallons. The eight-inch pipe on Main Street, from Tulpehocken Street to Washington Lane, was then taken up, and a ten-inch main was laid on Main Street, from Tulpehocken Street on the southwest side to about 150 feet northwest of Washington Lane then it is laid by a deflecting line to the northeast side of Germantown Avenue, and is continued northwest to Allen's Lane. Then it crosses southwest and connects on to the ten-inch main previously laid by the Company in 1853 on Allen's Lane. At a point about 200 feet northwest of Washington Lane the four-inch main is connected to the ten-inch main on the northeast side of Germantown Avenue.

The service ten years ago.

The four and ten-inch mains are now used as high service mains, and are supplied direct from the pumps at the Mount Airy Pumping Station, and supplies on Germantown Avenue to Tulpehocken Street and southwest on other Streets as the case may require. The northeast section is high service on Germantown Avenue to Tulpehocken Street, East Washington Lane and other Streets northeast, or as necessity requires. The balance of the Germantown distribution is supplied by gravity. Stops are arranged so as to supply any portion of Germantown by either way temporarily as occasion may require.

The distribution by gravity is supplied by two sixteen-inch mains, one of which is from the reservoir on Allen's Lane, northeast to Germantown Avenue southeast on Germantown Avenue to Tulpehocken Street; then reduces to ten inches, and is ten-inch southeast on Germantown Avenue to Eighteenth Street, then reduces to six inches.

The other sixteen-inch main is from the reservoir southwest on Allen's Lane to McCallum Street, southeast on McCallum Street to Carpenter Street, southwest on Carpenter Street to Greene Street, southeast on Greene Street to Tulpehocken; then is reduced to twelve inches southeast to Manheim Street; then northeast on Manheim Street to Germantown Avenue; then connects with the ten-inch main on Germantown Avenue, then southwest on Manheim Street to Pulaski Avenue, then southeast on Pulaski Avenue to Nicetown Lane, then on Nicetown Lane southwest to Cottage Street, or 365 feet southwest of the southwest property line of the Germantown Railroad, and connects to the six-inch pipe supplying Tioga.

City buys the plant.

The original distribution was purchased from the Germantown Water Company by the City of Philadelphia, May, 1866, for $84,000. November 15, 1870, the twenty-inch main was completed by the city and water passed over to Mount Airy reservoir from Roxborough. The time passing over a distance of about four miles was three hours and thirty minutes, under a head of ten feet and nine inches in the Roxborough reservoir. From that time water has been supplied to Germantown from the Schuylkill above Flat Rock dam.

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