The first water storage and delivery system in Hudson was this wooden standpipe at the height of land at what is now 30 Highland Street. The concept is fairly simple. Water is pumped into this vertical standpipe, stored; as needed the water flows by gravity to the home or buildings in the area. This standpipe was constructed by George O. Sanders as early as 1891 to supply water to his buildings in Hudson and Nashua.
Sanders was born in Hudson and at age 6, moved to Nashua with his parents. His dad was a well known contractor in Nashua from whom he learned the trade by serving as an apprentice at the age of 17. In 1873 he selected a prominent site in Hudson and proceeded to build what is known, even today, as one of the finest residences in Hudson. It remains today; the elegant Victorian overlooking Library Park at the corner of Derry and Highland Streets.
In 1882 he established himself in business in Nashua. He purchased a parcel of land near the junction of the Nashua and Merrimack Rivers and soon had a sawmill and box factory.
At first, Sanders supplied water to his residence from a well with a windmill operating along side his home. In need of water for his factory as well as his residence he built the standpipe and power station on Highland Street. He then pumped water from Little Tarnic Pond (aka Swamp Pond) into the standpipe to provide this water. He laid pipes from the standpipe under Highland and Derry to reach his residence. To reach his buildings in Nashua pipes were laid in the river. He also extended the pipes to provide water to a few of his neighbors. The first distribution of water through these pipes was in 1891. Our first photo was taken as you proceed up Highland from Derry street. The standpipe, on your left, is located on what is now 30 Haverhill Street. Note that Highland is a dirt road and there are but a few homes in the area.
The Hudson Water Works Company (HWWC) was organized in he spring of 1893. After a short time the water from Little Tarnic contained sediment and was unsatisfactory for domestic use. About this same time Sanders purchased a number of acres and water rights along Tarnic Brook and what is now Melendy Road. He transferred a part of this land to HWWC for a large well and a pumping station. Pipes were laid under Central Street and connected with the former system of pipes. Water from this new well was pumped into the standpipe by a circuitous route.
About 1901 the HWWC was sold to parties in Boston. They failed to make the business successful and Sanders again became principle owner. By 1903 all, or nearly all stock was transferred to parties in Portland, ME and by 1905 the Hudson Water Company(HWC) was incorporated.
The vertical standpipe at the corner of Highland and Haverhill continued to operate by Hudson Water Company until a water tower was planned and built in 1939. This replacement was located across Highland from the standpipe. According to a February 6, 1939 article in the Nashua Telegraph this new water tower was made of welded steel, stood 85 feet above it’s footings, weighed 65 tons, and had a storage capacity of 240,000 gallons! This provided a 10 lb increase in pressure to existing customers and extended to potential service area to 1/2 mile beyond the Hudson Town Hall at Hudson Center, now Wattannick Hall. This tower was equipped with a gauge on it’s south side, making it possible to determine the amount of water in the tank from Ferry Street. We have two photos of this steel tower. The first shows the 85 foot tower and was taken from across Highland Street. The second shows the tower from the intersection of Ferry and Second Streets, looking between 66 and 68 Ferry at the tower.
Once the new tower was planned the land parcel upon which the standpipe sat was sold by HWC to Helen and Ray House, with the understanding that the old standpipe was to be removed before May 1939. This new tower remained in use by HWC into the late 1970’s, perhaps as late as 1978; at which time it was demolished. The photos of the tower shown here were actually taken by the author a the time of demolition. Before this demolition a third water tower was built on a hill above Belknap Road at Gordon Heights.
As time went on the HWC morphed into Consumer NH Water Company. Then, in January 1998 at a special town meeting, the voters of Hudson authorized the acquisition of the water system from Consumer NH. As a result of this action Hudson has it’s own water utility and Water Utility Department.
My thanks to Gerald Winslow and Lionel Boucher for adding insight to this story. Jerry moved, with his parents, into his house on Highland Street, adjacent to the steel tower, in 1940. I was curious if the younger generation rose to the challenge of climbing the tower or decorating it for Halloween. He replied, “not too often”. However, he did remember that “Nick” Connell had an annual practice when he returned home to Hudson after wintering in California. He climbed the tower and proceeded to do hand stands on the top. What a site that must have been!! Lionel worked a a building contractor in Hudson; he worked on the removal of the old standpipe and the construction of the home at 30 Highland Street for Mr. and Mrs. House.