Philadelphia Water Department
Surveys for the Future Water Supply
of the City of Philadelphia
Watershed and Topographical Maps

This collection of maps are part of the voluminous and laborious research conducted in the 1880s
by PWD engineers who were searching for upstate water sources to replace the Schuylkill and Delaware rivers, which were becoming increasingly pollluted by sewage and factory wastes. The city undertook such searches periodically, starting after the Civil War and continuing into the 1940s. The rivers were never abandoned, no matter how badly polluted they became, but over the years many proposals were put forth to bring water into the city from cleaner sources north of Philadelphia.

Rudolph Hering's 1886 proposal is one of the most comprehensive of these water supply plans, and certainly the best documented. To read a summary of this report and see many of the associated tables and graphs, click here. The maps and aqueduct profiles on this page can be considered a visual summary of this work, and also provide a vivid historical image of the rural areas that they depict.

The following images are large, and may take a long time to download
for site visitors with slow Internet connections.

The History of Philadelphia's Watersheds and Sewers

Compiled by Adam Levine
Historical Consultant
Philadelphia Water Department
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Maps and profiles showing details of water supply plans
[Source: PWD Annual Report for 1885]
(left) Plate I (1.7 mb)
Map showing the watersheds of the Delaware, Schuylkill and Lehigh Rivers, with distribution of population, 1885. Depicts the Delaware River watershed above Philadelphia, showing all tributaries in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Special attention is given to several watersheds--the Lehigh River, the Delaware River north of the Water Gap, Perkiomen Creek, and Neshaminy Creek--that were being considered as new water sources for Philadelphia, to be collected in a series of proposed reservoirs and carried to the city in several proposed aqueducts depicted in Plates II, III and IV.
(right) Plate II (1.8 mb)
Map showing proposed lines of aqueducts from the Delaware and Lehigh Rivers and Perkiomen Creek, also available watersheds of the Neshaminy, Tohickon, Mill, and Perkiomen Creeks, and of certain tributaries of the Delaware and Lehigh Rivers north of the Blue Mountains. 1885.
(left) Plates III and IV (1.2 mb)
Profiles of Proposed aqueduct lines: Philadelphia to Perkiomen Creek. Philadelphia to Point Pleasant. Perkiomen Creek to Lehigh River. Point Pleasant to Delaware Water Gap.

Topographical Maps (1887) that provided the basis of the plan described in the above plates
(Source: PWD Historical Collection)

FULL TITLE: Topographical map of the Perkiomen Water Basin and neighboring watersheds in Bucks and Montgomery Counties surveyed for the service of the Philadelphia Water Department by William Ludlow, Chief Engineer, Rudolph Hering, Engineer in Charge, F. L. Paddock, Chief Topographer. Published by the Geological Survey of Pennsylvania to assist and illustrate the exploration of the Triassic belt. On a horizontal scale of 1600 feet to one inch with lines of vertical elevations every 10 feet. J. P. Lesley, State Geologist, Charles Ashburner, Geologist in Charge. 1887

The twelve contiguous sheets show proposed aqueducts and conduits, proposed dam sites, watershed boundaries, and location of roads, houses, barns, creameries, tanneries, shops, machine shops, shoe shops, hay houses, post offices, ice houses, seminaries, factories, mills Including many grist and saw mills), mill races, hotels, schools, churches, tollhouses, stores, railroad stations, and other structures, cemeteries, woodland, rain gauges, stream gauges, and triangulation stations.

Click the links below to view each sheet. Files sizes (compressed .tifs) range from about .5 mb to 1.3 mb.
These .tif files will not open in Internet Explorer.
Instead, you will be prompted to either open the image in your computer's image viewer, or save it to your hard drive.

To view a composite of all 12 plates (13 mb), click here.

Sheet 1
North Pennsylvania Railroad, Coopersburg Station, Steinsburg, California, Richlandtown

Sheet 2
Stony Point, Stony Garden, Haycock Creek, Haycock Run, Haycock Mountain, Bucksville, Kimball's Creek, Applebachsville, Tohickon Creek, Ottsville

Sheet 3
Macoby Creek, Krausdale, Perkiomen Creek, Hossensack Creek, Perkiomen Railroad, Palm Station, East Greenville, Pennsburg, Perkiomen Creek (Northwest branch), Niantic Post Office, Hillegass Post Office

Sheet 4
Licking Creek, East Swamp Creek, Quakertown, Tohickon Creek, North Pennsylvania Railroad, Milford Square, Spinnerstown, Scheetz's Church, Molasses Creek, Beaver Run, Morgan Run, Bunker Hill, Ridge Hill Post Office, Trumbauersville, Hazelbach Creek, Geryville, Kleinville, St. Paul Lutheran Church, Millville, Butter Creek, Smoketown, Rich Valley Creek, Rich Valley Church, Marlboroughville, Hoppenville, Red Hill Post Office, Perkiomen Railroad, McLean's Station, Macoby Creek, Naceville, Schlichterville

Sheet 5
Keller's Church, Mink Run, Tohickon Creek, Deer Run, Wolf Run, Rocky Ridge, Keelersville, Bedminsterville, North East Branch of Perkiomen Creek, Hagersville, Rock Hill Station, North Pennsylvania Railroad, Morris Run, Dublin, Blooming Glen, Perkasie, Sellersville, Bridgetown

Sheet 6
Delaware River, Tohickon Creek, Wormansville, Byram Station, Point Pleasant, Smith's Corner, Pipersville, Hinkletown, Plumsteadville, Gardenville, North Branch of Neshaminy Creek, Danborough, Ingham Spring

Sheet 7
Cedarville, Sassamanville, Pleasant Run, Deep Creek, Schlegel Run, West Swamp Creek, Middle Creek, Gilbertsville, Boyertown, Engelville, Christman's Mill, New Hanover Square, Frederick, Goschenhoppen Run, Proposed new location of Perkiomen Railroad, Keller's Church, Ministers Creek, New Hanover, Fagleyville

Sheet 8
Green Lane, East Swamp Creek, Tylersport, East Branch of Perkiomen Creek, North Pennsylvania Railroad, Telford, Indian Creek, Rich Valley Creek, Sumneytown, Perkiomenville, Kratz Station, Perkiomen Railroad, Hendricks Station, Mechanicsville, Tabor Church, Goschenhoppen Church, Branchville, Franconia Square, Salfordville, Salford Station, Zieglersville, Frederick Station, North East Branch of Perkiomen Creek, Harleysville, Lederachsville, Schwenksville

Sheet 9
North Pennsylvania Railroad, Portland, Pleasant Spring, Fountainville, New Galena, North Branch of Neshaminy Creek, Mount Pleasant, Leidytown, Hilltown (Triangulation Station), Snoveltown, Mill Creek, Pine Run, New Britain, Chalfont, Line Lexington, Upper and Lower Hatfield, Hatfield Square, West Branch of Neshaminy Creek, Colmar, Doylestown Branch of North Pennsylvania Railroad, Tradesville, Roberts Farm, Montgomeryville

Sheet 10
Landisville, Mechanicsville, Greenville, Lahaska, Buckingham Mountain, Centreville, Spring Valley, Doylestown, Doylestown branch of North Pennsylvania Railroad, Watsons Creek, Solebury Mountain, Pidcock Creek, Forestville, Bushington, Bucks County Alms House, Bridge Point, Bridge Valley, Concord, Robin Run, Mill Creek, Big Neshaminy Creek, Little Neshaminy Creek, Forks of neshaminy, Rush Valley Post Office, Jamisons Corners, Newville

Sheet 11
Lansdale, Montgomery Square, Little Neshaminy Creek, Horsham (Triangulation Station), Horsham Road, Prospectville, Three Tuns

Sheet 12
Warrington Square, Little Neshaminy Creek, Jacksonville, Hartsville, Davis Grove, Carroll's House (Triangulation Station), Ivyland, North East Pennsylvania Railroad, Breadysville, Johnsville (Railroad Station)


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Page last modified March 1, 2010