ASME-Landmark:Holly Fire Protection and Water System


The Holly Manufacturing Company was founded by Birdsill Holly in 1859 in Lockport, N.Y., to produce sewing machines, cistern pumps, and rotary pumps. That year, it entered into an agreement with the Lockport Hydraulic Company to construct a race on the south side of the Erie Canal to be used for water power, and in 1861, the Holly Manufacturing Company began construction of a five story building to be used as a foundry and boiler building located between the canal and the hydraulic race.

In 1862-63, a number of fires struck Lockport—and because of enlistment in the Union Army, there were few regular volunteer firemen. The Holly Manufacturing Company convinced the City of Lockport to install a fire protection system in the business district with hydrants and underground pipes driven by the Holly turbine pump.

The Holly Manufacturing Company constructed the Lockport Water Works in 1864. Six thousand feet of pipe were laid with 27 hydrants as high as 72 feet above the power source. A 5-foot diameter turbine provided 140 horsepower from 19 inches of head from the race on the south side of the canal. The rotary pump delivered 1,200 gallons per minute through 2,500 feet of cast iron mains. Pressure could be regulated between 20 and 200 pounds per square inch.

Holly's plan supplied the city with water for sanitary and domestic purposes while providing fire protection—all by pumping water under pressure directly into city mains without a reservoir. Holly brought this revolutionary system to over 2,000 cities in the U.S. and Canada. See ASME website for more information