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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

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Grand Rapids Hydraulic Company

Grand Rapids Hydraulic Company

GRHC - December 30th, 2013

The privately owned Grand Rapids Hydraulic Company provided drinking water from creeks and springs to residents from 1848 until the end of the 19th century.


In the fall of 1848 a number of gentlemen began supplying good spring water to the most settled portion of the village of Grand Rapids. They took the water from a large spring, which flowed down Fountain Street, thus the origin of the street’s name. Their primitive water works were situated just north of Fountain St. between Ransom and Bostwick.

The pipes were the old fashioned pump logs—pipe logs about a foot in diameter with a three inch bore. The boring of the logs was done by an auger, which was operated by waterpower in one of the factories above Bridge Street. A ship’s carpenter completed the pointing and fitting of the logs by hand.

A square curb made of two inch oak plank was sunk at the spring. The trench in which the logs were laid was a ditch about three feet in depth. The piping was completed that fall from the spring down Fountain Street to Ionia. From there the pipes went to Mr. Rathbone’s National Hotel at the corner of Monroe and Ionia.

Grand Rapids Hydraulic, a private water company, lasted until the end of the 19th century. It provided drinking water to city residents, obtained from local springs and creeks. Highly polluted Grand River water, not fit to drink, was suitable for commercial interests and for fighting fires. 

Full Details

TitleGrand Rapids Hydraulic Company
KeywordsWYCE; radio; Grand Rapids; Historical Commission; water
Pubdate StringDecember 30th, 2013

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