Circular Letter That Was Responsible for Calling Water Works Men Together, Resulting in the Formation of the Association—Some Reminiscences

THE following extract is from a series of reminiscences by the late H. G. R. Tarr, published in the Proceedings of the American Water Works Association for the year 1912, and brings out the interesting fact that the idea of an association of water works men had its inception in the mind of one individual, W. C. Stripe, superintendent of the water works of Keokuk, Ia. The reproduction of the original circular letter which brought the men together who subsequently formed the association is also from the same volume. Mr. Tarr in his article said:

Original Circular Letter Which Resulted in Formation of American Water Works Association

“It is probable that the centennial exhibition of 1876 did more to bnng together engineers (as well as other professions) and those of kindred interests than anything else, as during its progress there were assemblages there of representatives of nearly every profession, and out of these grew many permanent associations. This association, however, was not organized until 1881. The original call for it was issued by W. C. Stripe of Keokuk. Ia., and the first convention held in St. Louis, Mo. The success and usefulness of the association has been notable from the start. It went through the infantile diseases successfully, and there wasn’t one of them it escaped.

“Of late years it has not been my good fortune to attend the meetings, and looking over this assemblage I am impressed at the great change that has taken place in the personnel of the association. Of the older members few remain, many are dead, and some grown so old in the service that they have passed their work over into younger hands. I recall the names of Colonel Foster, president for the first two years; dear old Gardner of New Orleans, who last year passed over to the other shore; Peter Milne, genial, quiet and so earnest in all your deliberations. Decker, your first secretary, then president, was my assistant in New York for a number of years and our business relations are among the pleasant memories of my life. Then Jimmy Donahue, who owned the Davenport works, and who was everybody’s friend, and so on, too many to mention, but whose names will be remembered in the association so long as the old ones are here, and be a tradition when they have gone. Diven, who like the poor, ye have always with you, succeeded Decker as secretary and served until 1891, when he was passed up to the presidency. How can we think back without associating with these old managers of works, some who for years have come on business bent, and without them, there wouldn’t be any fun; besides this, they are exceedingly useful, as well as very dear to you all. I refer to such as “Colonel” Brown and Shepperd of FIRE AND WATER ENGINEERING, with many others I could name.”

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