Springs and Wells
By James Croggon, The Evening Star, November 21, 1909 [pt. 4, p. 1]
When L'Enfant was laying out the Federal city, under the direction of Washington, the water supply for the prospective thousands who were to make up the population of the capital engaged his attention. He noted that in the area included in the lines of the city there were many springs, which he calculated would furnish a population of 150,000 people; and flowing steams, Rock Creek, Slash Run, Reedy Branch and the Tiber from beyond the city limits, with numerous streams from the city springs, were convenient to the settlements which came into existence. Indeed the convenience of water from spring, run, pump, or hydrant was the chief inducement for settlement in many instances, some discarding more beautiful and convenient building sites for locations on the banks of a stream and near the source of supply in spring, pump, or hydrant. There are incidents where included in the purchase of a lot was the bed of a stream where brewery, dyehouse, or slaughter house was established, the stream furnishing drainage therefor. Early in the last century Hereford's brewery was established on the south side of Pennsylvania avenue between 9th and 10th streets, over Sluice run. This run, by the way, flowed scarcely twenty yards south to Tiber creek, and as far up as F street. In it were caught perch, sunfish, and catfish. The late Peter Force was wont to recall the catches made by him in this stream.
Wells and Pumps
Water for the President
A spring near the corner of F and 9th streets, the site of which is now covered by the old Masonic Temple, took about 1794 the name of Caffrey's spring from the first pastor of St. Patrick's church. It was a famous spring, supplying through a wooden pipe a number of residents south on 9th street to the Avenue. It was early covered in with masonry by the corporation. A fine spring on the north side of C street between 4 ½ and 6ths streets was early appreciated, the property holders in 1802, at their own expense, piping the water first to Woodward's Tavern, on the Avenue west of 6th street, and then to 4 ½ street. Another spring was at the northeast corner of Indiana avenue and 3rd street, and in the days of Mayor Blake, 1813-17, it was furnished with steps and inclosed with masonry. In the lower part of the first ward, in the old Funkstown or Hamburg settlement, a spring was the source of Powder run, which supplied the force of the glass house and other settlers. A gum tree spring near the west end of L street led to some settlement thereabouts. A spring near 5th and L streets was the source of one of the Tiber's tributaries, and several other smaller streams united with it. And east of the Capitol were some streams other that that from the spring near 4thand C streets, before noted.
A spring in the present Garfield Park, east of New Jersey avenue and south of F street, sent a stream down 2nd street into the Eastern branch; one run was started in square 878 between G, I, 6th and 7th streets, flowing through the reservation once occupied by the Eastern of Branch market, into St. Thomas' Bay; another from north of I street down 12th street, and one from the junction of Pennsylvania and Georgia avenues east of 14th street, and several smaller ones.
Some Early Sources of Supply
City Expenditures of Water
In 1815 it was made unlawful to injure any part of the works at the fountain near 9th and F streets, Caffrey's spring, wash clothes or commit any act tending to injure the same. In 1816 the mayor was directed to purchase two sites in the second ward with springs for providing a good supply of water. This act, however, was not executed, for in the junction of K and 13th streets on public ground and abundant supply of water was discovered. And the population numbering over 13,000 in 1820, greater facilities were demanded, larger appropriations were made, new pumps erected, and old ones repaired, hydrants put in and in that year reservoirs were constructed to supply water for the extinguishment of fires.