Reservoir Company Was Formed in Milford for Mill Fire Protection
By Gordon E. Hopper
In June 1880, a water reservoir company was formed in Milford for the benefit of mill owners on the Charles
River and to protect the town against loss by fire after a charter for the Milford Water Works had been signed
by Governor John D. Long.
According to Adin Ballou in his 1882 "History of the Town of Milford," the Milford Water Company had a
chartered right to issue capital stock to the amount of $100,000.
"Moses Joy, Jr. has contracted to build and complete the works on or before July 1, 1882," Ballou wrote.
The reservoir company was organized in March 1881, with Moses Joy, Jr., Charles W. Shippee, John P.
Daniels, E. L. Wires and Charles F. Claflin as directors. Officials included Joy as president, Daniels as
treasurer and Shippee as secretary.
On May 7, 1881, the Town of Milford made its first contract with the Milford Water Company for water needed
for fire-fighting purposes. Sixty hydrants were called for at an annual rental of $2800. Water services were
inaugurated in Milford when fires were started in the company pumping station boilers by E.L. Wires.
Water main extensions into Hopedale were started in September 1882, and land was purchased at the
corner of Congress and Fountain streets in 1886 for the location for a standpipe.
In 1887 the townspeople of Milford voted not to purchase the water works.
In June 1887, a 400,000 gallon well was installed making a total of three wells and a storage capacity of
900,000 gallons of water.
Agitation about purchasing the water company rose again in 1891, with the Town Solicitor, J.H. Wood
advising that the town could not legally buy the water works. At a Special Town Meeting held in April that
same year, it was again voted not to purchase the company.
The main source of Milford's water supply has always been at Echo Lake in Hopkinton, a reservoir owned
entirely by the Milford Water Company. A 22-foot high dam was built there in order to form a large reservoir.
Company records indicate that in 1890, the company supplied water to a 5,000 gallon wooden tank owned
by the Grafton & Upton Railroad, when the railroad's yard was located in Milford.
On June 28, 1901, it was reported in the Framingham Tribune, "The Milford Water Company has taken land
from several farmers in the Hayden Rowe section of Hopkinton and a valuable spring from Mr. Bowker. They
intend to enlarge their source of water."
By 1905, four filter beds had been built at the Dilla Street pumping station and the dam at Echo Lake had
been rebuilt from granite blocks quarried at the site. The pumping station was built of bricks and masonry
with a slate roof at that time. It was equipped with a steam engine and a direct acting pump. The steam
engine required the use of a 75-foot tall chimney; a landmark for many years.
Under plans developed by the civil engineering firm of Metcalf and Eddy, the old dam was undermined and
a stout wooden cofferdam was constructed in t he lake about 50 feet in front of the existing dam. Workmen
dug under the dam and installed a larger foundation that was capable of supporting the additional
stonework needed to raise the spillway by ten feet. The lake covers 165 acres and, when full, contains 384
million gallons of water.
The Dilla Street filter system was rebuilt during the 1930s and three large diesel engines were put into
operation at that time. Several large electric motors were installed in the early 1950s.
The Draper Company in Hopedale announced on January 23, 1930 that it had taken over the controlling
interest of the Milford Water Company, a condition that continued until 1949. Stock in the firm had been
controlled by Draper since 1919. Controlling interests were held by Allen Symonds and Ralph White from
1949 until their passing, at which time the interests were controlled by their estates. Milford Daily News -
Clipping from John Butcher's Hopedale history collection.
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