Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Word About the Street Pumps

Ask a question, and Gossips readers will provide the answer. David Voorhees and Katharine Umsted--independent of one another--identified the location of the pump on the picture post card. The house with the two-story bay and the sweet little iron fence is 444 Union Street.

Today the house has been enrobed in vinyl siding, which covers up the brackets and the molding on the bay, the roof has been raised, and the iron fence is missing its gate, but there's little doubt that it is the house that appeared on a post card a hundred years ago.

Another reader--an avid but shy researcher--discovered two articles on Fulton History that shed light on the street pumps of Hudson. The first, which appeared in the Hudson Evening Register in August 1889, provides a description of the pumps.
The street pumps are a feature of the town. A familiar sight is a crowd youngsters at the pump, pumping and plashing and dabbling like water-pixies, with utter disregard for the water tax or their clean clothes.
White painted, sepulchral-looking objects are our street pumps, resembling ghosts or gravestones, standing sentinels on the corners or cross ways at night; but on hot days how clean and cool and oasis like they seem to the dusty, thirsty laborer as he stops for a drink at the nearest one on his way home at noon or night! The poet who immortalized the "Old Oaken Bucket that Hung in the Well," had probably never known the refreshment of a drink of water from the Little Tin Cup at the Pump.
The second article, which appeared in the Hudson Evening Register on September 26, 1916, not only fixes the date when the last pump was removed but also gives some information about the original water system in Hudson.

Was Standing on State Street and Its Removal 
Occurred To-day.
The last of the old-time pumps which formerly lined the streets of Hudson was removed to-day by Plumber Augustus Hardwick, when he took up the one which was standing on State street between Second and Third streets, in front of the home of Assessor William H. Parker.
While the Hudson Aqueduct company had removed the pumps from the streets a couple of years ago, this one had been left, but the company decided upon its removal, as the expense of keeping it in repairs was a considerable item. Thus the last sign along the street of this company, which dates back to 1785 has been removed. The city formerly relied upon this system for its water supply, the water coming from springs at Fountain Head, Powers Spring and on the site where the Atlas Cement Co. now has its mills.
The early pipes were all of wood, and back more than a century ago there was a town pump near Market place, where the handle was put on at 6 in morning, at noon and at 5 in evening to supply citizens needing water and who came there with their pails to get it. The company still has a main which carries the spring water to the Evans brewery.


  1. Great stuff! Good going Mr. Voorhees.

    And now I know that the pump water originated "from springs at Fountain Head, Powers Spring." Thanks all!

  2. The Proprietors " brought water into the city, first from a spring given to them by John Ten Broeck, and then from a 'fountain' on the road between Claverack and Hudson. The water was brought into the city by an aqueduct --a wooden pipe--that ran down Main Street [Warren Street ]. Each lot holder could take water from the aqueduct for a fee, and the town pump was located at Market Square [the corner of Front and Main]."--Historic Hudson:An Architectural Portrait, p. 35.