Waterous Engine Works Co., Ltd
Waterous Company - St. Paul, Minnesota

Waterous was founded in 1844 as the Waterous Engine Works Co., Ltd., by C.H. Waterous in Brantford, Ontario Canada. The company built steam fire engines and saw mill equipment. A Waterous Engine Works advertisement from 1890 shows the company selling specialized woodworking equipment at that time. Brantford, Ontario is also the home of a former hydrant maker, Dominion Steel.

Quoting from the ACIPCO website:

"In 1881, the twin sons of C. H. Waterous set up a branch in Winnipeg. When this facility was outgrown, the Waterous brothers moved the operations to South St. Paul, Minnesota. At this new location Waterous Company produced steam fire engines and hook and ladder trucks, switching in later years to horse drawn gasoline fire engines and motorized apparatus."

Waterous began manufacturing fire hydrants in 1886, beginning with the Frost Jacket model. Production of this model was interupted in 1904 when the St. Paul plant burned to the ground! In 1978, Waterous Co purchased Traverse City Iron Works, a hydrant manufacturer from Michigan. In 1989, the American Cast Iron Pipe Company, also known as ACIPCO, purchased the hydrant division of the Waterous Company. Waterous hydrants continue to be manufactured in St. Paul, Minnesota. ACIPCO also purchased and produces American Darling hydrants, but these are made at their other plants.


The evolution of Waterous hydrants is shown below.
  • Generally, no model designation can be found on the hydrants of any vintage. Model designations referred to below are from company literature.
  • The company name cast onto the hydrants has changed over the years with the different models and is documented below.
  • All but the earliest Frost Jacket hydrants are dated with a year of manufacture and have V.O. size cast onto the barrel.

      Frost Jacket model (1886 - 1947)
    This earliest model is the most attractive of all Waterous hydrant models made.
  • "WATEROUS ENGINE WRKS CO. ST. PAUL MINN" is cast onto the bonnet rim of at least the 1 pc. barrel hydrants.
  • They were made in 4" and 5" valve opening (V.O.) sizes. The barrel shape below the nozzles is 10-sided for both the 4" V.O. and 5" V.O. sizes.

    The early one piece barrel hydrants are referred to as the "OLD STYLE FROST JACKET" in current Waterous literature.
  • Hydrants with two different bonnet shapes were produced. The earliest has a tapered bonnet which was changed to a cylindrical shape later on.
  • The OLD STYLE was produced from 1886 - 1934.
  • "WATEROUS FIRE ENGINE CO." is embossed on photo #2355.
  • 1095
    Nozzles: 2x 2"
    Size: ~4" V.O.
    Bonnet: tapered
    Location: Ed M. collection
    Photo: © 2001, E. Masminster
    0484
    Nozzles: 2x 2", 1x ~4"
    Size: ~4" V.O.
    Bonnet: tapered
    Location: Iowa
    Photo: © 1999, J. Quist
    1774
    Nozzles: 2x 2"
    Size: ~4" V.O.
    Bonnet: cylindrical
    Location: Private Collection
    Photo: © 2006, J. Kaminski
    2355
    Nozzles: 2x 2", 1x 4"
    Size: ~4" V.O.
    Bonnet: cylindrical
    Location: Private Collection
    Photo: © 2006, J. Kaminski

    2192
    Nozzles: 2x 2", 1x 4"
    Size: ~5" V.O.
    Bonnet: cylindrical
    Location: Jeff K. collection
    Photo: © 2004, J. Kaminski
    The two piece barrel hydrants are referred to as the "IMPROVED FROST JACKET" in current company literature. They have the later cylindrical shaped bonnet and were made from 1934 - 1947.
  • Also note the addition of a weather shield to the IMPROVED model.
  • 0483
    Nozzles: 2x 2"
    Size: ~4" V.O.
    Barrel: 2 pc.
    Dated: 1955
    Location: Private Collection
    Photo: © 1999, J. Quist
    0482
    Nozzles: 2x 2", 1x ~4"
    Size: ~4" V.O.
    Barrel: 2 pc.
    Dated: 1947
    Location: Wisconsin
    Photo: © 1999, J. Quist

      W22 model (1922 - 1931)
    With this model Waterous Co. went to a design with a short upper barrel/nozzle section that continued through the W31 & W59 models. The W22 has an one piece bonnet/nozzle section. The lower barrel has a ground line O.D. rib.
  • This model was produced in 4", 5", and 6" valve opening (V.O.) sizes.

    Two versions of the W22 model can be found. The earliest has a unique "webfooted" shape bolted flange joint between the upper and lower barrels. This flange shape was apparently only produced briefly.
  • "WATEROUS FIRE ENGINE CO. ST. PAUL MINN" is cast onto the lower barrel!
  • 1092
    Nozzles: 2x 2"
    Size: 4" V.O.
    Dated: 1923
    Location: Private collection
    Photo: J. Kaminski

    The later version went to the conventional round bolted flange joint between the upper and lower barrels.
  • "WATEROUS CO. ST. PAUL, MINN" is cast onto the lower barrel.
  • A NOV. 2, 1928 patent date is cast onto the lower barrel just above the ground line O.D. rib.
  • Note that the 4" V.O. size has 6 bolts at the barrel joint whereas the 5" V.O. size has 8 bolts.
  • Note that #1833 below has the same lower barrel embossing as the earlier "webfoot" version.
  • 1536
    Nozzles: 1x 2/3" combo
    Size: 4" V.O.
    Dated: 1930
    Location: John A. collection
    Photo: © 2002 J. Anderson
    0030
    Nozzles: 2x 2"
    Size: 4" V.O.
    Dated: 1928
    Location: John A. collection
    Photo: © 2001 J. Anderson
    1833
    Nozzles: 2x 2"
    Size: 5" V.O.
    Dated: 1923
    Location: Oregon
    Photo: © 2002, A. McMillan
    2387
    2387b (rear view)
    Nozzles: 2x 2", 1x4
    Size: 5" V.O.
    Dated: 1927
    Location: Private collection
    Photo: © 2006, J. Kaminski
    0308
    Nozzles: 2x 2", 1x ~4"
    Size: 5" V.O.
    Photo: © 1999, T. Ingalsbe
    1403
    Nozzles: 2x 2", 1x 4.5"
    Size: 5" V.O.
    Location: Steve P. collection
    Photo: © 2001, J. Anderson
    1831
    Nozzles: 2x 2" int. gated, 1x ~4.5"
    Size: 5" V.O.
    Dated: 1930
    Location: Oregon
    Photo: © 2002 A. McMillan
    1514 (see front view)
    Nozzles: 3x 2.5", 1x 4.5"
    Size: 5" V.O. (undated)
    Note: weathershield
    Location: John A. collection
    Photo: © 2001, J. Anderson

    2016
    Nozzles: 2x 4"
    Size: 6" V.O.
    Note: One nozzle is internally gated
    Photo: © 2003, Jim Cunnien

      W31 model (1931 - 1959)
    This model is very similar in appearance the previously shown W22 model including a lower barrel ground line O.D. rib. However, the W31 has a separate bonnet and nozzle section. Often confused with the W59 shown next.
  • This model was produced in 4", 5", and 6" valve opening (V.O.) sizes.
  • "WATEROUS CO. ST. PAUL, MINN" is cast onto the lower barrel.
  • Early hydrants have a NOV. 2, 1928 patent date cast onto the lower barrel just above the ground line O.D. rib. With later manufacture this patent date was dropped and the distance from the bolting flange to the ground line O.D. rib was shortened. Hydrants built from 1931 to 1955 have the lower barrel (standpipe) with integral flange. Hydrants built from 1955 to 1959 have separate standpipe and flanges; like the follow-on W59 model.
  • 0177
    Nozzles: 2x 2"
    Size: 4" V.O.
    Dated: 1938
    Location: John A. collection
    Photo: © 2001 J. Anderson
    1339
    Nozzles: 2x 2", 1x 4"
    Size: 4" V.O.
    Dated: 1938
    Location: John A. collection
    Photo: © 2001 J. Anderson
    0029
    Nozzles: 2x 2", 1x 4"
    Size: 5" V.O.
    Dated: 1931
    Location: John A. collection
    Photo: © 2001 J. Anderson
    1340
    Nozzles: 2x 2", 1x 4"
    Size: 5" V.O., 1948
    Note: no patent date
    Location: John A. collection
    Photo: 2001 J. Anderson
    2079
    Nozzles: 2x 2", 1x 4"
    Size: 5" V.O., 1957
    Note: final version
    Location: John A. collection
    Photo: 2003 J. Anderson
    2487
    Nozzles: 1 2", 1x ~4"
    Size: ~5" V.O.
    Photo: © Tony Flandrich
    0421
    Nozzles: 2x 2", 2x ~4"
    Size: ~6" V.O.
    Photo: © Thomas Ingalsbe

      W59 & WB59 models (1959 - 1997)
    This model is often confused with the similar looking W31 model. Differences include the top of the bonnet, no patent date, and the lack of lower barrel O.D. rib.
  • This model was produced in 4", 5", and 6" valve opening (V.O.) sizes. There was also a version built called a 6X5 which denoted a 5" valve in a 6" hydrant.
  • The W59 model designation refers to the non-traffic model; and the WB59 is the traffic model with flanges above the designed ground line. A conversion configuration was also produced to convert old Frost Jacket model installations into a W59.
  • Traffic model 5" hydrants built from 1980 to 1997 were supplied with the 4 bolt Pacer flanges at the ground line. All other traffic model were supplied with a round flange; 6 bolt for the 4" size and 8 bolt for the larger sizes.
  • The earler fluted caps were used prior to 1967. The later plain (smooth) caps were used after 1967.
  • "WATEROUS ST. PAUL" is cast onto the upper barrel.
  • 0028
    Nozzles: 2x 2"
    Size: 4 V.O.
    Location: Private collection
    Photo: © 2000, J. Kaminski
    2080
    Nozzles: 2x 2"
    Size: 5 V.O.
    Dated: 1968
    Location: John A. collection
    Photo: © 2003, J. Anderson
    0351
    Nozzles: 2x 2", 1x 4"
    Size: 5 V.O.
    Dated: 1980
    Location: John A. collection
    Photo: © 2001, J. Anderson


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