Sunday, January 20, 2008

Hagborne Hill Reservoir

Richards, L.J. 1899 (copyright © 2000 by Cartography Associates)
David Rumsey Collection.

In the center of the above map, you see Hagborne hill. If you're like me, as soon as the weather gets nice you'll want to talk a walk around the hill and look for evidence of the lost reservoir of Franklin Park. Even more, I'd love to know what's inside it now. I'd also like to know where the pumps of the Jamaica Pond Aqueduct Company were. And finally, I'd like to know the name of the Nimrod responsible for this disaster.

Boston Daily Globe October 26, 1902

Abandoned Hole. A Record Hall of Park Department. Reservoir Was Built in the Rock of Hagborne Hill. Meant to Supply Ponds of Franklin Park.

Boston has a great reservoir, built to hold water, which is utilized as a graveyard for public documents.

When it became apparent that the water shed of Franklin park was insufficient to keep the ponds full during the dry season and that it would be necessary to supplement the natural water supply, it was determined to utilize the plant of the Jamaica pond aqueduct corporation, laying an eight-inch pipe from the pumping station to a reservoir on Hagborne hill, and erecting standpipes along the line for road sprinkling purposes.

Work on the reservoir was begun in 1894. It was entirely below the original surface of the ground, and was excavated chiefly in rock, the bottom resting entirely on rock. This would have made the cost excessively high, except for the fact that material for road surfacing was obtained.

Inasmuch as the level of the water could not well be kept at a constant height and the appearance of the reservoir, if exposed, would be unsightly, it was thought best to have it covered.

The side walls were perpendicular, of American cement concrete, with a thickness nowhere less than one foot, the remaining space between the concrete and the ledge being filled with dry rubble.

Brick piers, 16 inches square, 10 inches high and 10 feet apart, were built for supporting the roof.

The top is covered today by 2 1/2 feet of loam.

The big main branches in a manhole just outside. The branch which was to supply the reservoir enters about six inches above the bottom, and is carried diagonally across nearly to the farther corner, where it ends in a globe-shaped casting, with an opening above. The branch which was to serve for an outflow pipe passes under the bottom and in embedded in concrete.

The reservoir covers an area of 9733 square feet, and has a capacity of 951,000 gallons, which is estimated to be a week's supply, n the driest time, for water carts on the drive between the reservoir and Jamaica park and also for making good the loss by evaporation from the ponds in Franklin park.

Difficulties arose which prevented the carrying out of the project, and the immense and costly reservoir, together with the tons of pipe, was abandoned. It was found that the water of Jamaica pond was too low to be carried to Hagborne hill without a more powerful pumping energy than could be supplied by the old Jamaica pond aqueduct pumps, and it was not deemed wise to construct a new pumping plant.

Since, the old pumping station has been removed, and instead of water in the great well in the park, the dry and musty records of the park department are to be found.Link

Update: I later walked around Hagborne hill and found evidence of the reservoir: Update


  1. I love your blog man, did you ever find get any answers to your questions? ever find the site?

  2. Marco - I later found the site - see the link in the update above.