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The York Water Company at 100-Years

Pumping Station of The York Water Company (The Story of A Dynamic Community, York, Pennsylvania; York Chamber of Commerce, 1946, page 246)
Pumping Station of The York Water Company (The Story of A Dynamic Community, York, Pennsylvania; York Chamber of Commerce, 1946, page 246)

An article in the August 16th 1916 issue of the trade publication Fire and Water Engineering provided a detailed look at The York Water Company as it observed its 100th-year in 1916. One of the primary components of the Company in 1916, and continues to be today, is the Pumping Station on the east bank of the South Branch of the Codorus Creek a short distance above its junction with the West branch of that creek. Pumps in that station first went into operation in 1897; lifting water over 200-feet from creek elevation to the Company facilities on Reservoir Hill. This photo of the Pumping Station is from a 1946 Chamber of Commerce publication. The station has since been enlarged and the chimney, required with earlier boilers for steam engines, no longer stands, since the pumps are now solely powered by electric motors.

This is the second post following-up to Dempwolf building stood next to Bonham House,  that dealt with the Charles Kutrz residence at 146 East Market Street. I like to use trade journals as a research source. During my research into the varied businesses interests of Charles Kurtz [1857-1927] I discovered an extensive article in the trade publication “Fire and Water Engineering” providing a detailed look at the first hundred years of The York Water Company. The previous post  published part one of the text in that article.

Part Two of the Text in that Article

The York Water Company observed its 100th-year in 1916, which is the reason the an article, entitled “THE WATER WORKS PLANT AT YORK,” appeared in the August 16, 1916 issue of “Fire and Water Engineering.” Quoting the final part of the text in that article:

THE PLANT OF TO-DAY—(That is in 1916)

Work was commenced in 1896 upon the construction of two new reservoirs, designed for use as sedimentation basins, located on the hill south of York. To provide a new source of supply for the system, a dam was built across the south branch of the Codorus, a short distance above its junction with the west branch of that stream, and a pumping station was erected on the east bank of the creek. From this source the supply of the Company has since been taken.

The station was immediately equipped with two pumps, each with a capacity of 5,000,000 gallons daily, and a twenty-four inch force main, almost 12,000 feet in length, was laid from the new pumping station to the site of the new reservoirs upon a right of way thirty feet in width. The new pumps were put into operation on April 23, 1897, in order to supply water from the new source at the earliest date possible, for which purpose the force main was connected with the old system until the new plant was completed sufficiently to allow the Queen Street reservoirs to be abandoned.

Pumping at King’s Dam ceased when the new pumping station was put into operation. On December 27, 1900, the Company tested the pumps to their full capacity, and running in unison they lifted water to the basins for three consecutive hours at the combined rate of 10,000,000 gallons in twenty-four hours. In 1914, an additional pump, with a daily capacity of 8,000,000 gallons, was installed in the pumping station. This increased the pumping capacity of the Company to 18,000,000 gallons per day.

A stand pipe was erected in 1897 near the site of the new reservoirs. It is now maintained for use in case of emergency. In order to allow the earlier abandonment of the Queen Street reservoirs, the western of the two new reservoirs was divided into a northern and a southern basin by a partition wall, and the northern of these was put in condition to receive water to a depth of twelve feet. Water was turned into it December 26, 1897. Meantime the eastern basin was completed. Water was turned into it October 3, 1898. The western basin was thereupon completed in all its parts and water was turned into both of its sections May 30, 1899. The combined capacity of the two basins is almost 40,000,000 gallons, an average week’s supply for the city.

During the fall and winter of 1898-1899, the Company erected a modern filter plant. It was composed of eight Jewell Gravity Filters, with a combined daily minimum capacity of 4,000,000 gallons. Work upon the building for this plant was begun October 21, 1898, and pushed forward through a hard winter, enabling the filters to be put into operation March 3, 1899. Under the filters was constructed a storage basin of 250,000 gallons capacity. On July 1, 1901, work was begun on a clear water basin of 2,000,000 gallons capacity, located northeast of the eastern reservoir.

In 1904 the filter building was enlarged by the construction of a laboratory. In 1907 the building was further enlarged and four new filters, with a daily minimum capacity of 500,000 gallons each, were installed, thus increasing the daily filtering capacity of the Company to 6,000,000 gallons at a minimum rate. The maximum capacity of the filters is much greater, and the building is sufficiently large to allow the installation of eight more filters.

The force main discharges into an aerating fountain from which the water is fed by gravity into either of the sedimentation basins as occasion requires. From the sedimentation basins the water flows, also by gravity, to the filters, and after filtration it is conducted to the clear water basin.

The distribution system of the city, comprising over eighty-nine miles of pipe, is fed from the clear water basin through two twenty-inch mains, while a third main of the same size has been constructed for future use. It is at present used to carry off the wash water from the filters.

From this installation the city and its adjoining territory, with a population of about 58,000 people and an area of over six square miles, is supplied with an ample supply of pure water at an average pressure of from seventy to one hundred pounds per square inch. The system is so arranged that the pumps can furnish water directly to the filters or to the mains without passing through the sedimentation basins, or directly through the sedimentation basins to the mains without passing through the filters. This system of control has been installed for service in case of great emergency, such as a general conflagration, and it never has been and probably never will be used.

In 1911 and 1912 an impounding basin, with a capacity of 900,000,000 gallons was provided, about three miles above the pumping station, by the construction of a dam, forty-seven and one-half feet in height, across the east branch of the Codorus. The plant now supplies over 14,000 consumers, instead of the 55 of a century ago, and , without enlargement, has sufficient capacity to supply a much greater number for many years to come. [Endquote from the 1916 article, entitled “THE WATER WORKS PLANT AT YORK,” appeared in the August 16, 1916 issue of “Fire and Water Engineering.”]

Links to related posts include:

Reading the Headlines: A Quick Index to All YorksPast Posts