Clay pipes have been found in excavations dated as early as 4000 BCE. They were used in Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley civilization, the Minoan civilization, and of course the Roman Empire (which also used lead pipes). Modern-era pipes are made with a variety of materials. One of the earliest types in the U.S. was hollowed-out logs, and later, wood-stave pipes. Other types include vitrified clay, brick, cut stone, slate, cast iron, concrete, and recently, PVC. The size/shapes of the sewers varied in almost direct proportion to the number of designers involved.

See Tracking Down the Roots of Our Sanitary Sewers for more information.


Baldwin Latham, C.E., M. Inst. C.E., Sanitary Engineering, A Guide to the Construction of Works of Sewerage and House Drainage with Tables for Facilitating the Calculations of the Engineer (New York: Engineering News Publishing Company, 1884).

See pages 20 – 28

PDF of all chapters (17 MB)     PDF of map of Dantzic (Gdansk, Poland) (Plate I, 5 MB)     PDF of illustrations only (Plates II to XIX, 4 MB)

Frederick E. Turneaure, C. E., Editor-in-Chief, Cyclopedia of Civil Engineering, Volume VII, (Chicago: American School of Correspondence, 1908) – a compendium of articles including:

Anson Marston, “Sewers and Drains,” pp. 233-313, 344-357 (some pages missing).

PDF version (printer-friendly).    See Design after 1900 for other chapters.

J. T. Brown, W. H. Maxwell, editors, “Sewerage,” The Encyclopedia of Municipal and Sanitary Engineering (New York: D. Van Nostrand Company,        1910), pp. 421-433.

See “Materials for Sewerage Works,” pp. 424-429, for information on brick, concrete, clay, and cast-iron pipes.

PDF version (printer-friendly).