Universal York

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Laying York's first water system. Lewis Miller drawing courtesy of the York County History Center.

York Water First Flowed Through Log Pipes

(See below for Miller’s detailed caption.)

Like anything else, pipes do eventually suffer from wear, whether they are made of iron, ceramic, plastic, or log. Log?
York was quite progressive, instituting a public water system in 1816.
The first piping system, which lasted for many years, was constructed out of logs. In March 1816, the York Gazette ran the following ad:

“Water Company Office,
March 19th, 1816.
Proposals for boring Trunks for the York water Company, will be received at 2’clock in the afternoon of the 15th of April next, at the house of George Hay, Innkeeper, in the Borough of York.
The logs to be bored will be about 12 or 13 feet long, and the bore to be from 3 to 4 inches wide. The proposals will be received for the whole of 16,000 feet, or any part thereof.

Lewis Miller Captioned the drawing above:

“Hydran[t] water. Conveying through wooden pipes the water in the borough of York, 1816.
Managers 1. George Small, 2. Peter Small, 3. Abraham Gartman, 4. David Cassat, Atty., 5. George Richter and Weirich, working hands. George Small put a tin pipe in one of the trunk[s] to see how high the water would squirt.”
That’s three miles of pipes bored from tree trunks–by hand. A modest beginning, but that same York Water Company, according to their website, supplies water to 44 communities in York and Adams counties today.
Sections of the original hand-bored log trunks can be seen at both the Agricultural and Industrial Museum and the York County Fire Museum, both York County History Center sites. Click here for more info.