A STORY ABOUT ATGLEN
By Mary Garrett
On February 15, 1904, a meeting was called to organize the
Atglen Water Company by the stockholders: Robert Futhey,
chairman; W.D. Swisher, secretary; Samuel Whitson, treasurer.
Directors were, F.W. Focht, Robert Futhey, Samuel Whitson,
John D. Hastings and W.D. Swisher.
J. Frank Hause, attorney, was to apply for a charter. This
charter was granted on March 25, 1904.
On March 30th, a committee was appointed to secure the two (2)
Mackey Springs for the sum of $250.00.
Mr. Focht was elected president in April. He owned the Atglen
Hotel. Meetings were held either at his establishment or in
the offices of Futhey & Swisher or Wm. Hastings & Son.
Mr. H T. Downing was engaged to make a plan for the pipes from
the plant through the town. Later he was to prepare
specifications and ask for bids for construction of the plant
except the reservoir. On June 18, 1904, the contract was
awarded to W.G. Fritz & Bro. of Quarryville. Plant was to
be completed by September 1.
Rates for use of water were set in July. The rates of Aberdeen
County and Harford County, Maryland, were used as standard.
250 copies of the rates were printed and distributed. Also it
was voted to put taps and ferrules in pipes at houses not
taking water and at vacant lots.
In August, the Borough Council asked to have fourteen
fireplugs installed. It was agreed the Water Company install
thirteen plugs, giving two free of charge for five years. (In
1972 there are 23 hydrants).
By now money was tight as it was all going out and no return,
so the stockholders were asked to loan the company on a note
50% of their stock payable in five years without interest.
A reservoir was ordered built – 25 feet in diameter and 8
feet deep. Fritz and Bro. got the contract. Mr. Todd was hired
to building a retaining wall around the reservoir.
March 21, 1905, a motion was carried to pay Mr. Wm. Ferguson
$325.00 for water rights. In September this figure was changed
to $400.00 as per Mr. Ferguson’s wish. Also an attorney was
hired to look after their interests in suit for damages
brought by I.P. Chalfant Jr. and others. In January 1906, F.W.
Focht sold his shares and resigned as president and director.
J.D. Hastings was elected in his place.
February 1906, pipe was ordered laid to new houses on Third
Avenue. In March, a 4” pipe was to be laid north from Ridge
Avenue to Mr. Whitson’s new house. November 1906, the Atglen
Paper Company applied for water for spraying. They do the work
and pay $12.00 per year and $5.00 for connection.
The damage suit brought by Chalfant Hardware Manufacturing
Company went to court and the verdict was in their favor. The
attorney was instructed to try for an “out of court”
settlement before appealing to the Supreme Court. It is not
clear in thee minutes how this was settled, but in 1909, the
Chalfant Company was again asking for damages for water used
from the stream in an emergency. After this, the company
contacted the P.R.R. for emergency water. An agreement was
Mr. Ferguson again asked damages for taking water from the
stream. This time it cost the company $1,250.00 for a complete
In 1912, 14,887 square feet of land was purchased from Jones
& Beaver (?). This land was around the upper Mackey
By this time, the collection of water rents amounted to
$1,450.92, but 1350 was not collected (no decimal). In January
1913, $1,503.65 had been collected with $60.89 due. Also it
was voted to build a fence around the reservoir.
In 1914, the water main was extended on Lower Valley Road to
the John E. Miller property and a fireplug was installed on
the corner of Valley Road and Main Street.
By 1915, collections amounted to $1,673.70, with $345.13 due.
Notice was sent to the Atglen Hotel that their bill must be
paid or water service would be cut off. This started a long
series of collections of overdue bills.
In 1916, an agreement was reached between the Atglen Gas
Company and the Atglen Water Company for location of
J. P. Thompson claimed damages to a team and wagon in 1917.
This was settled for $24.90. 11/17 – Ross Winters
Then trouble at the water works. The upper Mackey Spring broke
out and emptied the reservoir. Again water from P.R.R.
alleviated the problem.
Scott Powell Creamery was not satisfied with their rate set so
a meter was installed. They were to pay for water used or
service would discontinue. Scott Powell billed $150.00 for
water. Rate for Dr. Irwin’s house was set at $24.00 per year
During the summer of 1918, people were experiencing a severe
drought. Everyone was requested to conserve water. Meters were
installed at Townsend Bros. and Hogg Motor Company. The water
shortage made it necessary to obtain a better supply for the
reservoir, so two wells were drilled and pumps installed. A
well near Hammond Spring was 53 ½ feet deep and pumped 40
gallons per minute. The second well on the hill is 82 feet
deep – 344 gallons in fifteen minutes. Filled up again at
three gallons per minute. Again in 1921 water was short (2
feet in reservoir) so another agreement was made with P.R.R.
if they had enough to spare. From August 18 to November 24,
632,060 gallons were used at a cost of $69.53, 11 cents per
In 1922, the State Board of Health required plans of the
source of supply and all pipes and fire hydrants. For then on,
all pumps, pipes and supply had to be approved by the Board of
By 1922 a 6% dividend was paid to stockholders out of
earnings. (1927 – 8%). In 1923, the Atglen Mushroom Company
requested water. January 1922, Sarah D.F. Phillips was elected
first woman on the board of directors. As the town grew, so
did the extensions on the water main. Two fire hydrants were
installed in 1928, one at the corner of Brackbill’s
bungalow, and one at Third and Leroy Larges’.
In 1930, a dividend of 8% and 2% extra dividend was paid to
stockholders. Each director was paid $100.00, the secretary
$300.00, treasurer $200.00 and auditors $10.00. The board of
directors was: T. J. Phillips, Sarah D. Phillips, H. S. Boyd
W. D. Swisher.
After years of trying to collect unpaid water rents it was
voted reluctantly on October 31 to shut off water where rent
was in arrears.
After Mr. Swisher’s death, a new board of directors was
elected. They were: Sarah I. Swisher, T. J. Phillips, H.S.
Boyd, George Sener and Sarah D. F. Phillips. George Sener was
elected secretary and collector. In 1934, it was voted to
collect rents quarterly instead of semi-annually. In 1936 a
new electric motor was purchased to replace the gasoline one.
At the annual meeting in 1937, it was decided to collect the
rents at the end of the quarter rather than in advance. A
special meeting was called in December 1939, to appoint a
director to fill the unexpired term of the late Mr. Phillips.
Mrs. Harlan Plank was elected. In 1940, Mr. Charles Phillips
was appointed to the board.
January 18, 1941, a letter was received from P.R.R. as
“We find that there is a 6” metered connection between the
P.R.R 24,” pipe line and your system in the Borough of
Atglen. The pit housing the meter is in a very deteriorated
condition and forms a hazard. In view of the fact that this
connection has not been used in fifteen or twenty years, it is
suggested that you remove the meter and block the pipelines,
permitting us to fill in the pit. We would propose to mark the
site with a post so that connection could be dug up and
temporary water service rendered you in the event of drought.
There is also the fact that the meter is probably not in
operating condition due to its age and infrequency of use.
Yours very truly,
T. Morris, Engineer of Water Services”
In 1954, the Octorara water was needed. While new Route 41 was
being constructed the 6” cast iron water main on Swan Road
was crushed. The reservoir empted rapidly, so Pennsylvania
Power & Light supplied current (cost - $199.09) to pump
water from the railroad to the reservoir. (Water cost
$203.60). Total cost of new main, etc. was $2,321.90 over
usual operating expense. In 1941, the Byler farm was purchased
for increased water supply. Some of this was sold. In 1942,
first use of chlorination and analysis.
As the town grew, so did the water lines. New mains were
extended to West Valley Avenue and extensions of West Ridge
during the 1940’s.
On December 16 1953, the sale of stock of the Atglen Water
Company to the Borough of Atglen for $50,000.00 was
unanimously approved by directors representing 96 shares of
stock. At the primary election in 1955, the people of Atglen
voted to permit the Borough to purchase the company and supply
our water. The sale was finalized on September 23, 1955. Mr.
Park, attorney, was authorized to proceed with the dissolution
of the Atglen water Company.
In 1972, Mr. Paul Hutchinson is plant supervisor under the
direction of our Council.
Written by the late Mary Garrett
November 16, 1972