Advertisement, Oregon Magazine, 1921. Willamette Heritage Center Collections:
Salem Water Company History
The Salem Water Company was organized in 1871. In 1885, Robert Stuart Wallace bought the company and operated the water plant until his death in 1891. In 1911, the Salem Water and Light Company was organized with officers and stock holders as follows: C.A. Park, President and stock holder; Paul B. Wallace, Vice President and stock holder; and Wallace’s sister, Ruth Lee Lambie stock holder. The growth of the city and required additional equipment needed made the enterprise too large for the small local company to manage so, in 1927, the SW&L was sold to the Federal Water Service Co. of New York and thereafter operated under the subsidiary name, Oregon-Washington Water Service Company. They in turn sold the water works to the City of Salem on 1 Aug 1935.
Materials in the WHC’s Collections
The Willamette Heritage Center is the repository for a series of business records related to the various dealings of the Salem Water Co. To access a .pdf listing of materials click here.
Salem Water Company Plant in 1895. Willamette Heritage Center Collections 2012.049.0084.
Oregon Statesman & Capital Journal
29 Dec 1926: Article re suit by D. C. Minto against SW&L concerning use of Minto’s island for waste water filtration. The suit was first brought in 1923 and the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of Minto but set criteria for SW&L to meet the requirements of their contract with Minto.
12 Apr 1927: Article re the signing of a purchase contract for the water system owned by SW&L to the Federal Water Service Corp. C.A. Park is the President and Paul B. Wallace is the Vice President of the company. These two and Wallace’s sister, Ruth Lee Lambie of Penn are the only stock holders. The former Salem Water Company was organized in 1871. In 1892, R. S. Wallace bought and operated the water plant until his death.* In 1911, the Salem Water and Light Company was organized with the present officers and stock holders. The growth of the city and required additional equipment needed make the enterprise too large for the small local company to manage.
22 Nov 1933: Article re the attempt by the City Salem to purchase the city water works from Federal Water Service Co using funds from the U.S. Government Public Works Administration.
9 May 1935: Article re the banner year of 1934 for income from the Salem water system by the Federal Water Service Co. (The article goes on to support the purchase of the system by the city.)
11 Aug 1935: Article re the complete history of the drinking water systems of Salem up to 1 Aug 1935, the date of the sale of the water works by Federal Water Service Co to the City of Salem.
*Note that even though it states 1892 was the purchase date in this 1927 article, this is impossible as R.S. Wallace died in 1891. Frank Mauldin in his book Sweet Mountain Water cites the date of the transfer as 1885.
Mauldin, Frank. Sweet Mountain Water: The Story of Salem, Oregon’s Struggle to Tap Mt. Jefferson Water and Protect the North Santiam River. Oregon, Salem: Oak Savannah Publishing, 2004.
Research compiled by Mike Nugent, 2018.