Muscatine County, Iowa
Muscatine Journal & News-Tribune
Centennial Edition
31 May 1940

Section 7 - Page 11 Submitted by Kathy Foote, June 29, 2012

Owned By City For 40 Year Span
Purchase of Water Works Approved By Voters in Year 1900

Muscatine's present city water works stands as a credit to the far-sightedness of persons who made the city their home at the turn of the century. The present system had its birth early in the year of 1900. At that time, the Muscatine Water Works company, an independent concern, proposed to the city council of Muscatine that it purchase the entire plant and properties of the company for a consideration of $100,000.

The result was a special election of July 10, 1900, which resulted in the ratification of the contract governing the transaction. The purchase of the plant and property was effected through the issuance of city bonds at five per cent, under the date of Dec. 4, 1900, The bonds were payable serially over a twenty year period.

Payment of these bonds was secured by the net revenues to be derived from the operation of the water works, the physical properties, the proceeds of a sinking fund tax, and the regular water tax to be levied annually by the city. The Muscatine city treasurer received proceeds from the bonds on Dec. 4, 1900, and subsequently drew a warrant for the amount of $100,000 payable to the Muscatine Water Works company.

At first the management of the water works was vested in three trustees appointed by the county district court. However, through an act of legislature on March 14, 1902, the power to appoint the trustees was transferred from the district court to the mayor of the city. The water works operated independently until 1929 when, another legislative act provided for the consolidation of the board of trustees of the Electric Plant and Water Works. The board was to consist of five members.

On Dec. 4, 1900, William P. Molis was appointed superintendent of the new municipally owned water works, a position which he filled faithfully until the time of his death. Mr. Molis was succeeded in the office of superintendent by his son, Walter P. Molis.

Prior to the transaction which transferred the water works to city ownership, the Muscatine Water Works company had furnished water to the city from a source directly out of the river. This soon proved detrimental to the health of Muscatine residents, however, and in 1903 steps were first taken to purify the city water supply.

In that year, the city gave a second mortgage to the extent of $60,000 to secure five percent second mortgage 10-year bonds. The bonds were issued on Oct. 21, 1903, and the proceeds were promptly used toward the development of a new water supply and the construction of a new water plant on Muscatine Island.

Photos Captions: An early picture of Muscatine's water works and engine house is presented above. An important project completed in 1939 was the new stand-pipe erected in the east part of Muscatine to serve residents of that area.

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"Still another company of immigrants from the south came up on the Key City yesterday. One gentleman just from Memphis with his family and effects, says he has no language to describe the excitement there." -- Journal edition of May 4, 1861.

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"Married, at the residence of the bride's father in this city Jan. 31, 1866 by the Rev. A.B. Robbins, Colonel Benjamin Beach and Miss Josephine Meason, both of this city" -- Muscatine Journal, February 1, 1866.

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