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History of the Utility System

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Leesburg became Loudoun County’s first incorporated town in 1813. With a population of nearly 1,000, the Town could now have a fire department and other public services, as long as residents were willing to pay for them. The mucky streets needed “paving” (which amounted to dumping large rocks on top of smaller rocks) and the Town needed a water delivery system, but people were hesitant to be taxed for these improvements, so in 1818 they held a lottery to raise money for these two projects. A water system of sorts was developed which was comprised of a series of hollow, interlocking wooden “pipes” that delivered water from Rock Spring to Town.  One of these logs was discovered in 2008 and is currently on display at Leesburg’s Utility Maintenance Division building.

Old Water Main

Leesburg, an attractive and well established town by 1835, was comprised of 500 homes, 22 stores, 6 schools, 3 churches, 4 taverns, a bank, and a population of 1,700.

“The streets are well paved, and the town supplied by fine water, in pipes of wood from a spring (Federal Spring) issuing at the base from Kittoctan Mountain.” (Page 24, "Loudoun Discovered," published by the Friends of the Thomas Balch Library)

A wooden water main (ca. 1830) from Leesburg’s first water system is pictured at right. Wooden pipes brought water to the Town of Leesburg from a spring at the base of the Catoctin Mountains. The first public water pipes were placed in Leesburg in the 1830s. The water main pictured here was found under Wirt Street during a construction project in the 1970s.

 

Leesburg's historic water system was highlighted in the Water Environment Federation's February 2009 publication of WEF Highlights.