Sunday, October 07, 2007

Our Last Photowalk

During this photowalk, I again explored the lower beaver dam on May Brook, the century and a half old reservoir, and the old waterworks. Below I quote from Darlene Young's book A History of Barton Vermont:
Barton residents wanted a public water system for a number of compelling reasons. First and foremost, waterworks meant increased fire protection, making it possible to play hydrants throughout the village. Secondly, waterworks would supply an adequate amount of pure water to homes. And thirdly, a system of waterworks was a significant mark of a progressive village. Barton aspired to follow the lead of Newport and St. Johnsbury, which had already installed waterworks.

The talk in favor of a waterworks for Barton began in earnest in 1885. The village had improved its fire protection with a new fire engine and was building a series of cisterns for water storage. But many in the village saw the cisterns as only a temporary solution. The Orleans County Monitor pointed out that a system of waterworks would fill the need for fire protection as well as domestic use.

The trustees called a village meeting to consider the question of waterworks. The voters established a committee to investigate the feasibility and cost of a water system. The committee presented several options for supplying water to the village from Crystal Lake, estimating the cost at around $8,500. But voters rejected the proposal.

For the next few years, discussion of the question continued without any resolution. In 1886, the Legislature authorized the establishment of a system of waterworks for Barton. In 1888, the Legislature amended the water charter to permit the raising of $20,000 in bonds for the construction of the water system. Despite this, Barton voters took no immediate action.

In 1889, the village began looking at other water supplies besides Crystal Lake. Joel Foster of Montpelier, an engineer and veteran waterworks builder, cam to Barton several times to study the possibilities. Foster considered using a number of water sources: Roaring Brook, Parker Pond, and May Pond.

At a special village meeting held in July 1889, the first question put to the voters was a simple resolution. The resolution expressing the need for waterworks passed on a voice vote. The second article, "To see if the village would vote to erect a system of waterworks," brought a lengthy discussion. Foster explained the different routes and methods of bringing the water to the village. He estimated the cost at approximately $17,000. When debate ended, the voters, by a margin of 70 to 42, decided to use May Pond as their water source. They also approved a bond for $16,000.

Work began almost at once. Workmen built a stone dam at the reservoir, dug ditches, and laid the cast iron pipe to homes and businesses during the fall of 1889. Just before winter set in the village completed the mains and water began to flow.
If you wish, you can see the photos in my web gallery here, or in my Flickr set here.

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