Holyoke Recalls How Suburbs Got Supply of Water

by Laurel | February 19th, 2014

17 February 1929

First Aqueduct Shed Covering

Shed Which Today Covers the First Aqueduct Spring
To Supply Holyoke Highlands With Water

Wells and Old Pipelines Were in Use But Are Now Forgotten

Holyoke, Feb. 16 — While the main water supply of Holyoke in early years was for a long time the reservoir that stood where later the Dillon tenement block on Maple Street was built, there were other sources for suburban Holyoke that are being forgotten. George C. Ewing, whose brick house was for many years a landmark and later became the Holy Cross Rectory, built a lead pipeline that supplied the Manchester Grounds.

Manchester Grounds” was the name early applied to the Highlands. This pipeline started in a spring back of the place now owned by C. Fayette Smith on Northampton Street, originally built by E. J. Pomeroy and later occupied by the late T. J. Flanagan. Water was piped down to and across Northampton Street, down Hampden Street to Pleassant Street and supplied a half dozen or dozen houses.

The name “Manchester Grounds” was applied, according to the legend, because early residents in that section came from Manchester, MH. Among early residents here were Elihu Hall, whose house was just above that of the late Reuben Winchester. Mr. Ewing laid a 1½ inch lad pipe but for one reason or another it gave out frequently — perhaps on account of the pressure as there was a fall of nearly  100 feet.

No Records Located

Back of John W. Healy’s place on Cherry Street, in a place now unmarked, was another spring that was piped for the earlier settlers in Elmwood. This is believed to have been brought about by the settlers themselves banding together, but if any records were made they have been lost. They too had a heavy hand but how large a pipe was laid seems to have been lost in the mists of time.

Dr. H. O. Hastings recalls that wells were in general use on Northampton Street and probably before the pipeline was laid wells were the source of water supple for Manchester Grounds and Elmwood. On the southwest corner of Hampden Park there was a big well, supplied from the Maple Street Reservoir, into which the hand fire engines of earlier days would drop their suction lines, either for practice of for a fire in the vicinity. Dr. Hastings recalls a “playout” when scores of fire engines came from all around. They used this well and “Squirted” the water onto a flagpole in the park. The judges were stationed on the Samoset House — formerly where James P. Hobert had his undertaking rooms — to decide the best records made.

The central and lower part of the city were supplied from the Maple Street Reservoir. There was good head in the lower part of the city but in the High Street section the water would barely come up to the second floor and sometimes not as far, and so had to be pumped up. The reservoir was in two parts and once in so often one part was drained, dead cats and dogs and other debris removed and later the other part so treated.

Assistant Marshal Timothy Haley helped remove the pipe that ran from the reservoir to the river where the water was pumped up with power derived from a waterwheel at the head gatehouse of the Holyoke Water Power Company. Taking water from Ashley Ponds rendered the use of the reservoir superfluous and it was emptied and the walls torn down. So far as can be learned there is no near picture of the reservoir, though its river wall can be seen from one or two old prints still extant.

Adapted from the Springfield Republican.

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