History of the Water Works of Keene, New Hampshire

The matter of supplying Keene with an adequate water supply was agitated at an early date. In 1861 a charter was granted for the purpose, the estimated cost of the proposed works being $40,000.00. Much opposition was met with, however, on the part of some tax payers, which, combined with the troubles of the war, put the matter off. In 1866 the subject again came up, though it was not until August, 1868, that the vote was finally carried. A committee was appointed to act immediately, consisting of Samuel A. Gerould, Edward Joslyn, Thomas H. Leverett, Daniel H. Holbrook and George W. Ball, all of whom, except Mr. Leverett, are living. This committee was instructed to obtain land, right of way, make contracts, etc. It was decided to build the reservoir on Charles Wrights farm, utilizing Goose pond, about fifty acres, lying on the right side of the old road leading to Surry, about three miles north of and 152 feet above the city. Contracts for pipe, etc., were let within a month, and everything put in active operation. A solid granite gate-house was built at the outlet of the pond, and an earthen dam with a center wall of stone and cement constructed, and the whole was completed in 1869, about a year from the date of beginning. It was found, however, that the supply was scarcely adequate for all occasions, so in 1873 another reservoir, of about five acres, was built on Beach hill, three-quarters of a mile east of the city. Goose pond reservoir, or Spring lake, as it is more politely called, has an area of fifty-one acres and a capacity of 150,000,000 gallons. It is a natural basin between the hills, 152 feet above Central square. The reservoir on Beech hill has a capacity of about 12,000,000 gallons. The streams are all small which feed these reservoirs, however, and even now the city is agitating the subject of an increased supply. The works have twenty-five miles of mains, 118 fire hydrants, capable of throwing a stream of 110 feet, and up to the present time have co ;t $170,000-00. The net earnings for 1884 were $10,034.84.

The Keene Gas Light Companys works were built in the year 1859, by J. H. Carter, of Boston, under the superintendence of Edward Gustine. Mr. Carter was the first president and owner of most of the shares of the company until 1871, when he sold his stock to John Henry Elliot, who soon after associated Charles S. and Francis A. Faulkner with him in the purchase. The next year the works were enlarged to double their former capacity. In 1881 “water gas” machinery was added to the plant, and is now employed for the production of gas, instead of the old coal gas apparatus. The cost of works is about $60,000.00. The liabilities are for shares $36,000.00, and for indentures $20,000.00. The company has never paid any dividends.


Hurd, Duane Hamilton. History of Cheshire and Sullivan counties, New Hampshire. Philadelphia: J. W. Lewis. 1886.

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