The Vergennes Pump House
“People of Vergennes at the mercy of the ﬂames”
—-H.C. Johnson, Editor, Vergennes Vermonter, October 18, 1867 —
In Need of Water
Fire was the scourge of downtowns all across America in the nineteenth century. Buildings were destroyed by fire time and time again. Water often had to be transported from nearby rivers. Firefighting efforts were frequently in vain as fires were doused by hand-held buckets and hand pumps.
A City Waterworks
In 1868, Vergennes took its first steps to construct a city waterworks for fire protection by installing three turbine-powered water pumps at the base of Otter Creek Falls. The pumps proved unreliable, however. The City soon contracted with John P. Flanders, owner of the Vergennes Machine Company, to build a better pump. Flanders designed, cast, machined and subsequently patented all the parts of a unique double-acting piston pump. To house the new pump and turbine, the City constructed a 30 square-foot building in the Italianate style on an island at the top of the falls in 1874. The three foot thick walls were built of limestone quarried in Essex, New York.
The Flanders Water Pump
To power the pumps gears, cranks, and pistons, water from Otter Creek was diverted through a large water turbine in the lower level of the pump house. Water from the creek also was piped to a cistern in the lower level, where the sediment settled out before it was pumped to factories
Erected by City of Vergennes.
Location. 44° 10.003′ N, 73° 15.354′ W. Marker is in Vergennes, Vermont, in Addison County. Marker can be reached from Main Street (Vermont Route 22A), on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is in small park approximately 50 yards from parking lot for 300 Main Street. Marker is in this post office area: Vergennes VT 05491, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Commerce at the Crossroads (within shouting distance of this marker); Early Life Along Otter Creek in Vergennes (within shouting distance of this marker); World War Memorial (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Bixby Memorial Free Library (about 700 feet away); Vergennes 150th Anniversary (approx. ¼ mile away); Commodore Thomas Macdonough (approx. ¼ mile away); Macdonough Shipyard (approx. ¼ mile away); Veterans Memorial (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Vergennes.
Categories. • Charity & Public Work • Settlements & Settlers •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on September 28, 2015, by Bill Donovan of Maplewood, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 185 times since then and 41 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on September 28, 2015, by Bill Donovan of Maplewood, New Jersey. 3. submitted on September 30, 2015. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.