Sewer history timelines
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Tracking down the roots of our sanitary sewers - Sewer history through the ages

Over the past fifteen years, Jon Schladweiler, the Historian of the Arizona Water Association, has researched and collected materials related to the history of sewage conveyance systems. Many of these have been displayed in a traveling exhibit entitled "The Collection Systems Historical Photo and Artifacts Display." The overall collection of sewer history materials covers the era from approximately 3500 BCE through the 1930s CE.

The purpose of this website is to house this dynamic collection of materials about the evolutionary development of sewers over the past 5500 years, and to provide a location for the sharing and distribution of information to others. The donation of additional photos, sketches, articles, books, or other sources of historical information on the history of sewers is appreciated.

This website is an educational, non-profit endeavor. Its intent is to offer some insight into the history of sewers and the role its operators, engineers, and builders may have played in making our environment, homes and communities better and healthier places to live.

Donations requested      Sewerhistory posters available

Can I use materials on

Site News and Highlights of New Items on

January 2011 - Collection of photos of sewer construction in Columbus, Ohio, from 1928-1934, courtesy of Robert Ellinger

December 2010 - Thanks to Tom Bates for an article about a sewer explosion in Pittsburgh in 1914 and in Detroit in 1914. See our Disasters section for further information.

July 2010 - View our expanded collection of photos about disease and sanitation, including large number of graphics from the Life Photo Archive depicting the scourge of cholera, plague and other epidemics. We owe a big thanks to Life Magazine for releasing their huge collection for non-profit use.

April 2010 - We have added a collection of photos of the unusual sport of outhouse racing.

February 2010 - A collection of poems about the wretched sanitary conditions of the Middle ages until the advent of modern sanitation. Special thanks to The Victorian Dictionary for several poems.

Previous entries in Site News

Site sponsored by:

Inquiries and Donation of Materials:

Jon C. Schladweiler
Email address - Jon Schladweiler
(520) 954-3754

Webmaster: Jan McDonald
Email address - Jan McDonald

Acknowledgments, research, design, and maintenance:
Jon Schladweiler, Jan McDonald, Paul Matty,
Stephanie Siva

Historic manhole cover       Last revised January 20, 2011 .

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