Del Rio Springs History. Pt. 3 – Prescott Water Works

In November of 1900, the City of Prescott acquired from James and Sarah Baker two parcels: a 128 acre piece of land in Chino Valley and a separate 2.07 acre parcel on which the main Del Rio springs were located. In the same month, a deed from Ed. G. Wells and his wife Rose Banghart conveyed an additional 231 acres to the city. All water rights to the three parcels were also conveyed. A boiler and pumping equipment were installed at the springhead and a 19.2-mile long pipeline was constructed to bring water to Prescott’s reservoir. It was reported in the Journal Miner that the capacity of that spring was about 2,000,000 gallons a day and the daily pumping capacity about 500,000 gallons under 750 pounds of pressure. The system was put into operation in September 1901.
In May of 1902, the city council voted to also furnish water from Del Rio Springs to the Santa Fe Railroad for seventy-two cents per 6,600 gallon tank car load. The railroad transported the potable water from Del Rio to the many locations along its northern lines not blessed with adequate water including the towns of: Seligman, Ash Fork, Williams, Winslow and eventually, the Grand Canyon. With a reliable source of water, Fred Harvey and the Santa Fe Railroad began their work to make the Grand Canyon a popular stop for modern travelers. In 1901 the Santa Fe purchased a bankrupt railroad that ran from Williams north to a copper mine in Anita. They extended the track to its new depot on the rim and offered passenger service to the Grand Canyon. In addition to water purchased from the City of Prescott, the AT&SF had their own appropriation rights in Del Rio Springs based on a 99-year lease the railroad secured from the Bakers in 1898. With an assured water supply from the Del Rio, development of the Grand Canyon began. The building of the El Tovar began in 1903.