Artesian Water Works

35th Avenue at Foothill Boulevard

Artesian Water Works was a private water company started in 1879 by “Captain” R. R. Thompson, in Alameda. If that is the company that made this main cover, then the mystery is why it’s up in Oakland in Fruitvale.

The company was acquired in 1899 by the Contra Costa Water Company, originally founded by Anthony Chabot in 1866. East Bay MUD took it all over in the 1920s. It’s conceivable, then, that this piece of iron was deployed somewhere between 1880 and 1900, most likely late in that time span. In the 1890s the company’s water came from the Fitchburg wellfield, which was where the Coliseum is today, so it may have served this part of Fruitvale. It was unincorporated territory at the time and thus not subject to Oakland’s ruinously low water rates.

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