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Bethlehem in Northampton County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Waterworks

1762

 
 
Waterworks Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., December 22, 2009
1. Waterworks Marker
Inscription.
“They have a Sett of Pumps which go by Water, which force the water up through leaden Pipes, from the River to the Top of the Hill, near an hundred feet.”
John Adams to Abigail Adams
1777

A bountiful spring supplied Bethlehem's water needs from 1741 to 1912. At first the Moravians carted this springwater in buckets and wagons up the hillside to the residential area of the town.

In 1754, millwright Hans Christoph Christensen designed and experimented with a pumped system housed in a small log building on this site. The system and building were both enlarged in 1762.

Three pumps, powered by an undershot waterwheel turned by the Monocacy Creek, forced the spring water to a water tower at the top of the hillside above where Central Moravian Church now stands. From the water tower, the water flowed by gravity into four cisterns at various locations in the town and from the cisterns by gravity into many of the buildings. Bethlehem's system is regarded as the first pumped municipal water system in the American colonies. It operated in this building until 1832 when the pumping system was moved to the adjacent oil mill.

The waterworks was restored in 1976. It is an American Water Landmark, an Historic Civil Engineering
Waterworks and Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., December 22, 2009
2. Waterworks and Marker
Main Street Bridge dominates background.
Landmark and a National Historic Landmark.

[Marker is damaged]
 
Erected by Historic Bethlehem, HistoryWorks!, and Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor.
 
Location. 40° 37.147′ N, 75° 22.973′ W. Marker is in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in Northampton County. Click for map. Marker is in the Colonial Industrial Quarter of Historic Bethlehem, adjacent to the west wall of the Waterworks building, along the former Ohio Road and about 50 feet north of the Main Street Bridge over the Monocacy Creek. Marker is in this post office area: Bethlehem PA 18018, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Old Waterworks (here, next to this marker); Oil Mill (here, next to this marker); Bark Shed (within shouting distance of this marker); Colonial Industrial Quarter (within shouting distance of this marker); Pottery (within shouting distance of this marker); Smith Complex (within shouting distance of this marker); West Hall (within shouting distance of this marker); Moravian Community (within shouting distance of this marker). Click for a list of all markers in Bethlehem.
 
Also see . . .
1. Colonial Industrial Quarter. (Submitted on February 5, 2010, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. Waterworks National Historic Landmark
Waterworks and Markers image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., December 22, 2009
3. Waterworks and Markers
Historic Hotel Bethlehem at distant upper left.
. (Submitted on February 5, 2010, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
 
Categories. Charity & Public WorkColonial EraLandmarksMan-Made FeaturesNotable BuildingsSettlements & SettlersWaterways & Vessels
 
Waterworks Photo on Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., December 22, 2009
4. Waterworks Photo on Marker
Restoration of the 1762 Waterworks Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., December 22, 2009
5. Restoration of the 1762 Waterworks Marker
Originally constructed in 1762, this limestone and clay-tile building contained the waterwheel which pumped spring water to the Moravian buildings at the top of the hill. Pumped water had been available since 1755, making this the earliest municipal water system in the American colonies. Renovation of the deteriorated structure began in 1972. The waterwheel is being rebuilt according to the original 18th century designs.
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 546 times since then and 5 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on , by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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