The citizens of New London's early water supplies came from springs if you were lucky enough to have one nearby or from wells. When Zelotus Barrett erected the "Barrett Block" on the northwest corner of the square in 1867, a well and watering trough were put in nearby that served the town for many years. A well and pump was installed on the west side of the Big Four depot, and this "spring water" was always considered the best drinking water on the entire Big Four Railroad! During the Civil War, the soldiers passing through town always filled up their canteens at the well.
Most trains always stopped at New London back then as it was a wood and water station on the railroad. A town well was installed in front of the new Methodist Church in 1879 with a new pump mounted on top of the well. By 1882 the well had to be cleaned and a new pump installed.
Another well in the rear of the old King Hotel supplied water to all the stores uptown. Another town well was drilled on the southeast corner of the square. The 300 barrel cistern at Washburn and Skinners helped relieve a water shortage in 1883. In 1884 a new 700 gallon cistern was built just west of the well in front of the Methodist Church. This was to be used for fire only! The Curtis Tub Factory drilled a new well on their property also that more than supplied their needs for water.
By 1890 talk of a new village water works began to circulate but everyone thought that the village streets should be paved first. By 1896 wells had been drilled to tap the springs northwest of town which later turned out to be the village's main water supply for many years. Water was piped to the Big Four's large cistern downtown so that when their supply was low the village supplied the railroad with water. Sometimes the railroad used more water than the town did! In 1900 the railroad drilled a new well near Hiles Tower which eliminated this problem. They say 1908 was an unusually dry summer and that wells and cisterns all over town were drying up but yet the old Barrett Block well stayed constant at nine feet and kept the citizens with plenty of water.
In 1914 council had Burgis and Long, water works engineers, design a local water plant for the village. By 1920 a new water tank tower and supply system was erected on South Railroad Street. Later a water softening system was installed there.
In 1955 the New York Central Railroad had taken off their steam locomotives and closed their water station at Hiles. In 1956 due to an increase in business they put several of the old steam engines back in service and installed the westbound water plug again at Hiles. The old wooden water tank had dried out and when it was filled again it leaked so much water that the Village of New London said they would have to cut down their use of water as they were using all the village's water supply!
The steam locomotives were soon taken off again so everything worked out fine. A new village water tank was constructed in 1963 at the south edge of town just off New London Avenue. By 1965 the old tank on South Railroad Street was history. In 1968 the railroaders were still saying that New London had the best water on the Big Four Railroad. By this time low levels of water at the springs caused much concern about the future of our water supply and council began thinking about a new source for our water supply.
In 1971 a bond issue had been passed for the construction of a new up ground reservoir west of town. Completed in 1973,the village now had an endless supply of water for the future and a new water plant was built to go along with it. The water may not taste as good as the old spring water did but it is safe to drink and much better than the water in most of our cities here in Ohio. Water is wonderful as we cannot live without it, and New London now has plenty of it.
V.K. Neel from Foskett's history and New London Record articles.