ONE of the most difficult problems confronting cities and villages of the whole country is an adequate water supply for fire extinguishment. In many places water is easily obtained, especially in those fortunate enough to be located near rivers or canals; but cities are constantly expanding—the fire area following in the wake of expansion—demanding water supply. Small cities and villages are reluctant in the expenditure of large sums of money for waterworks, and when such expenditure is made, not every street and not every section of a city or village is fortunate enough to obtain a water main. Hence, other means of water supply must be provided. Cisterns, expensive to construct and maintain, are resorted to, but uniformly prove very unsatisfactory, especially In localities remote from a water course and where the fire depart ment is wholly a volunteer organization—owing to the difficulty and expense of keeping the cisterns filled with water. Municipalities have been experimenting with this water problem for years. In the large cities by the seashore and beside lakes and rivers, cisterns are being abandoned and “dry pipe lines” installed, it being practicably demonstrated that the change is economy,so far as fire protection is concerned.


In my own little city thousands of dollars expended in the construction of fire cisterns remote from the river has proved money thrown away, as it required too much expense to maintain them in serviceable condition. Water mains do not cover the entire fire area; consequently,we are compelled to provide means, outside the reach of the water mains, for fire protection. It occurred to me, some twenty years ago, that, if a large number of well points were driven in close proximity, with the ends brought together into one large pipe at,or near the ground surface,so as to permit the attachment of the suction of a fire engine,a sufficient supply of water could be obtained. 1 was fortnnate enough to obtain an appropriation to construct such an experimental well. It was constructed; but it did not prove a success, owing to the fact that the points were not properly constructed to stop the flow of sand that entered the pipes in sufficient quantity to stop the flow of water. This well, of necessity, was abandoned; but soon after another was constructed, which proved more successful, but lacked a sufficient flow of water,which was owing to the fact that we did not put down enough points—the flow of water was not sufficient to supply a firstclass engine running at full capacity. Yet this well appeared to please the authorities, and I was directed to construct another, which I did, on more practicable principles. This well proved a success in every detail, and it furnishes an inexhaustible supply of water for fire-ex tiuguishment.

There is no patent on this well; therefore, I will endeavor to explain in detail the construction, that all similarly situated may profit, if they so wish. Select a point where the water level is—say, twenty feet below the surface of the ground. Excavate the earth until you reach a point on a level with the water. The excavation must be sufficient to permit a good slope of side and banks, and at water level be of not less than twenty-eight feet long, by fourteen feet wide. All tliis excavation can be done with scrapers. The banks having a proper slope, there is no danger of sliding in or caving. Procure a sufficient quantity of pine slabs, such as used for fuel, have the same about four feet long, run them through a saw to straighten the edges, and drive them along the bank at the water line (this will prevent sand and gravel washing from under the bank). By sharpening the points of the slabs they can easily be put down to any required depth; but it is not necessary in this case to drive more than two and a half or three feet. Safe now from inflow, resume excavation by throwing out two feet of sand gravel, or whatever formation you find at the water level. This finishes the excavation, and you are ready to proceed in the construction of your well as follows: Procure two lengths of twelve-inch water pipe and one twelve by twelve by eight-inch T. At equal distances along both sides of this pipe and T drill twenty-four holes, and cut the standard threads in each for a two-inch pipe. Put the pipe together; caulk securely; plug the ends tightly; and put a plug in the eight-inch opening of the T, with the centre drilled and standard thread for a five-inch wrought iron pipe. Place a six-inch uipple in each of the two-inch holes in the large pipe, and lower the pipe into the water, placing it in the centre of the excavation. Screw in the five-inch wrought Iron pipe—which must be of sufficient length to reach the surface. An L must be placed on the upper end of this pipe for use in attaching engine. Now begin driving points. Begin at one end and on both sides of the water main (or reservoir) being particular that the points are driven from four to six feet from the main and in line with the nipple to which it is to be coupled. The points should be put down at irregular depths—none less than ten feet, and from that to eighteen or twenty feet. Drive the points until the top of the pipe, with an L attached, will be in line with the nipple on the main. Connect this to the nipple with a “union,” being particular to make good and tight connections. After two or three points on a side have been put down and connected, any wash that may have worked its way into the excavation may be thrown to this end and the pipes covered as fast as connected. When two or three pipes have been connected, plugs or caps will have to be placed on the remaining nipples to prevent a flood of water in the pit, and a good size pump must be kept constantly at work while connections are being made. The points all driven and connected, throw back the earth, and grade up the street. Procure a swivel coupling connection—brass—reduced to the size of the engine suction-hose. This will screw into the five-inch L on the well, where it will be permanently, and permit the easy attachment of the engine, no matter to which the suction-hose is attached first—there being a swivel at either end.

*Paper read at the twenty-ninth annual convention of the Inter national Association of Chief Engineers, Indianapolis Ind., August, 1901.


The well is now ready for an experimental test* Attach your largest engine; let it work easily and slowly at find and see that all sand has disappeared. You may find a little fine sand at first, and for two or three minutes the water may be colored. It is now clear water. Open up your throttle and see the result. There will be no let-up in the water supply. It would be well to use a foot.—or check-valve where there is over twelve or fifteen-foot lift of water. In such case the valve should be placed in the T before the pipe is connected and caulked.

Naturally the question will be asked: “What will a well as outlined and described, cost? The material and labor required in the construction of the well, as I have outlined, will cost, approximately, as follows:

Let it be well understood that this kind of water supply cannot be obtained in all localities. The water line must be within reach of the suction of an engine, and the points, no matter how deep they are driven, must rest in a gravel formation. The pacing of the twelve-inch water pipe, to which the points are all connected, two feet below the water line, gives a free flow of water into the pipe under an eighteen-inch head, faster than any steam fire engine cun take it out. Should It be desirable to arrange for connecting two engines to the same well—which is not likely to occur —it would be well to place a reducer at each end of the large pipe, omit the T in tjie centre, and place a hydrant at each end. In this case If would be well to Increase the number of points to thirty-four or thirtysix. The flow of water into the main pipe is of sufficient volume to prevent the Interference of the engines working at the ends.

1 have hud drawings made of one of these wells as constructed by myself, and they are reproduced here, believing that they will explain the system better than words. The first illustration represents the general plan; the second, the end view; the third, the side view.

It is claimed by some that fine sand will drift Into and settle in the {mintsand eventually clog the pipe, and also that flue gravel will cluster close to, and round the fine wire gauze which covers the points and stops the flow of water. I have had considerable experience with driven wails; have one at my home which has furnished water for domestic use for twentyfive years—the {mint having never been disturbed, and the flow of water is as free today as it was at first. The rapid draught of water from these points k“eps them free of fine sand which may find its way into the same, and the back-flow—w-hen pumping ceases— clears the gauze of fine gravel. Once constructed, these wells require no further attention. They are always ready with an abundant supply of water for fire purposes.




We have frequently in these columns directed attention to the value of driven wells for furnishing an abundant supply of water for fire extinguishment. We would by no means recommend them as a sole source of supply, but in cities where there is a scarcity of water in certain localities, and in small places where the dependence is upon small streams and cisterns, driven wells can usually be put in successfully, and at small cost. Their value is being more and more recognized by private parties in the East, but in many sections of the West they have long been the main dependence of individuals for their supply of water both for domestic and business purposes. In this city there are many high points where the water supply is insufficient, even when the reservoirs are full, and many a time the Firemen have been crippled in their efforts to put out fires because of the impossibility of procuring from the mains sufficient water to supply the number of Engines it was desired to employ. Yet the enterprise of private parties in putting down driven wells to obtain water for manufacturing purposes, and thus save the water tax, has demonstrated the feasibility of obtaining abundance of water by this means. About forty feet below the surface of New York City, varying but slightly in different localities, there is an abundant supply of pure water ; the genuine Manhattan. This has been proven by means of hundreds of wells, sunken through the surface stratum, and thence through a bed of clay down to the “ second vein.” The former is contaminated by the drainage above, but the latter is of a delicious coolness, averaging about 56 deg. all over the island. As the temperature of the Croton in August and September ranges from 70 to 80 deg. there is a difference of from 20 to 25 deg. which in many instances, among wholesale consumers of water effects a great saving in ice as well as of the usual tax for Croton. The quality, however, is not invariably good, as at the Windsor Hotel, where it is impregnated with iron, injuring it for culinary purposes. Yet in most localities the water is of excellent quality, and is preferred to the Croton. In the great building of the Western Union Telegraph Company all the water used is supplied by a gang of driven wells in the basement. A powerful steam engine lifts the water to a tank in the roof—which towers many feet above all neighboring buildings—and thence distributed throughout the building generally in any desired quantity. These wells are inexhaustible, and the supply sufficient to supply the entire block. The quality of the water is pronoynced by those who use it to be better than the Croton, and as the consumption of water in the building is very great, the saving in water tax amounts to a large sum. There are twenty-five of these wells in the basement, but only a portion of them are in constant use ; they are simply iron tubes driven into the ground about twenty feet, making the depth of the wells about forty feet below the surface of the street. Despite an occasional drawback arising from mineral impurities, the demand for wells is more incessant, as the local supplies are so much purer and cooler, and besides render the well-owner independent of the enormous charges exacted where water meters are attached to the premises. The St. Denis Hotel, for instance, is saving $1,200 a year. There are the. Sisters of the St. Francis Hospital, who had a well put in last winter on Fifth street, near Avenue B. At the beginning of the work there was discouragement from the fact that the driving instrument was compelled to penetrate eighty feet of quicksand before reaching clay, but beneath the clay and a bed of gravel there was found water abundant and pure —wells supplying 50,000 gallons per day. The Croton being cut off and the wells run by steam power required for other purposes, the saving is $2,000 a year. There are already in the city 500 wells supplying 5,000,000 gallons per day, and it is certain that these will be definitely increased. Mr. Allen Campbell, Commissioner of Public Works, advocates dependence on driven wells, so far as possible, as an auxiliary to the Croton, and in order to postpone that evil day when an enlarged Croton aqueduct will be necessary at an enormous expense. Well water being so much preferred by brewers and in making bread, such great quantities being consumed for manufacturing purposes, hydraulic elevators, filling boilers, &c., the new mode of supply becomes a public boon as well as a relief to those who are terrified by meter charges.

A number of large establishments have supplied themselves with wells expressly with reference to fires. At the Berkeley House, corner of Fifth avenue and Ninth street, they have an independent well thus designed always ready. At R. H. Macy’s, corner Fourteenth street and Sixth avenue, a fine well has just been finished at the new building, At Hecker’s Flouring Mills there are five driven wells, each of which yields 6,000gallons a day, and they are never affected by drought. The most frequent modes of sinking wells are by driving or boring. By the former, no attempt is ever made to penetrate a rock, for when an obstruction is encountered the tubes are sunk elsewhere, and it often happens that they can clear the rock within a short distance, as at Ryerson & Brown’s livery stable on Forty-fifth street, where rock was struck at thirty-three feet, and again in the rear at twenty-eight feet, but on a final test a copious well was struck about midway at a depth of forty-five feet. When wells are bored, as at the Mutual Gas Light Company’s works on Eleventh street and East River, there is sometimes heavy expense to no profit—in this amounting to $15,000—after vainly penetrating 1,500 feet. The difference between the supply of water at different localities in the city is explained by the variations in the substance through which the water flows. If passing through course gravel the yield might be fifty gallons a minute; if through sand perhaps only ten gallons. Almost invariably the second vein is found within lifting distance of the surface without the necessity for the excavation. Dug wells have a difficulty in excluding the surface water which percolates through the stone curbing, as at the open well of the Manhattan Gas Works, East Fifteenth street. Among other notable wells should be mentioned Shook & Everard’s breweries, on West Tenth street and Washington ; a 2-inch 6o-foot well, formed of six tubes, and yielding 125 gallons a minute. The Russian Vapor baths, on Lafayette place have three 2-inch wells; producing 50,000 gallons a day. The water is very pure, and the temperature is 55 deg. at all seasons. Edward Ridley & Sons, on Grand and Allen streets, have a single tube that supplies 25,000 gallons per day. It is claimed that the entire city could be similarly supplied at a low estimated cost.

What is true of New York city is true of two-thirds of the cities and villages of the country. In many places considerable expense has been incurred in providing cisterns for fire purposes. These have to be filled artificially, and are liable to be exhausted in an emergency. An equal sum expended for driven wells would, in a majority of cases, serve the purpose far better, and provide an inexhaustible supply of water. Driven wells are not experimental, but have been successfully used for many years by many thousands of persons. Why they should not be utilized by corporate authorities as well as by individuals is a conundrum yet to be solved.

—A New York cat amused itself by overturning coal-oil lamps and setting tire to the house. It is needless to say that it doesn’t do so any more.