By Captain Franklin Ellis122




     From the settlement of Hudson until the establishment of the present system the water-supply was scarcely equal to the demand upon it for domestic purposes, and was wholly insufficient as a means of protection against fire.  These facts were of course well understood, but the introduction of an amply water-supply was looked upon as a project too gigantic to be undertaken by a city of Hudson's population and resources.†  It was not, therefore, until October, 1871, during the great Chicago fire, that the question was seriously agitated.  It was then thoroughly discussed through the newspapers and at public meetings, and the result of these discussions was the passage of a law, in the spring of 1872, authorizing the construction of water-works, and appropriating therefor one hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars.  The commission appointed under that law caused surveys and estimates to be made, and it was demonstrated to be impracticable to erect such works as the interest of the city required within the appropriation.  Therefore, in the spring of 1873, a new law was enacted, authorizing the expenditure of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, and a commission was appointed in June of that year charged with the duty of furnishing the city with an ample supply of pure and wholesome water.  A difference of opinion existed as to the advantages offered respectively by the Hudson river and by Lake Charlotte as proper sources of supply, and that question was determined by a vote of tax-payers in favor of the river.  Considerable time was necessarily consumed in making surveys and in maturing plans, and the work of construction was not begun until March, 1874, but was then pushed forward with such energy that the water was let into the system on the 1st of November following; and by the 1st of January 1875, one hundred and one taps were supplying water to the citizens, and many cisterns were filled form fire-hydrants.

     These works were completed within the time estimated to be required and within the appropriation; which can be said of few public works of equal extent and importance.  The commissioners under whose supervision and control the works were constructed were Messrs. F. F. Folger, Edwin C. Terry, Lemuel Holmes, William H. Gifford, Hiram Macy, and Thomas S. Gray.

     The water is taken from nearly opposite Ferry street, at a point where the depth of the river is 35 feet.  The inlet is at a depth of about 8˝ feet below ordinary high water-line.

     The reservoirs consist of a filtering-basin of 13˝ feet depth, and having an area of 15,981 feet at the crest of the slope wall, and a clear-water storage reservoir, separated from the other by an embankment 14 feet in thickness.  This basin has a depth of 20 feet, an area at the crest line of 32,696 feet, and a storage capacity of 3,200,000 gallons.  The first-mentioned basin is also available for storage as well as for filtering purposes.  An eighteen-inch main capable of delivering 13,000,000 gallons in twenty-four hours, passes from the filter, and afterwards branches into two twelve-inch mains for the supply of the city.

     These reservoirs are located on Prospect hill, east of the city, and, by reason of their great elevation (about 300 feet above the river), give sufficient head to carry the water to every part of the city, and furnish unequaled advantages to the system in controlling and extinguishing fires.

     The pumping building and engine-house is a fine structure, fifty-eight feet ten inches by sixty-five feet seven inches, and fifty-two feet in height to the ridge, with pressed-brick faces and marble trimmings.  Its location is on Water street, west of Franklin square, and between the Hudson River railroad and the river.  Its cost was about $15,000.  The pumping-engines and boilers were built by the Clapp & Jones Manufacturing Company, of Hudson, at a cost of $40,000.  All the straight pipes were furnished on contract by the Warren foundry, and most of the specials were cast by Messrs. Gifford Brothers, of Hudson.  The length of pipe now laid in the system is about thirteen miles.

     From the completion of the works until the present time they have been in constant and entirely successful operation, furnishing to the city thoroughly filtered water in ample supply for all purposes.

     The gentlemen comprising the present board of water commissioners are Messrs.  Frederick F. Folger, Lemuel Holmes, Edwin C. Terry, Ezra Waterbury, William J. Miller, Henry J. Baringer.


†Immediately after each of the great fires in Hudson (but particularly after those of 1838 and 1844) the subject of furnishing the city with a more copious supply of water was earnestly agitated, but in these eases the plans advanced for accomplishing this object usually took the form of propositions to construct a a large reservoir or reservoirs upon the public square, or at the intersection of Worth avenue; but even this was never accomplished, and a proposal to build water-works of one-fourth part the magnitude of those now in successful operation would have been thought visionary and absurd.