Village Improvements and Farm Villages
by George E. Waring
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BOSTON: JAMES R. OSGOOD AND COMPANY, (Late Ticknor & Fields, and Fields, Osgood, & Co.) 1877.



The following papers on Village Improvements and Farm Villages are reprinted, with some amendments, from "Scribners Monthly." These constitute the more practical part of the book, so far as villages are concerned.

It has, however, been judged appropriate to add to them a paper on Eastern Farming, which originally appeared in "The Atlantic Monthly," and which continues the discussion of the question of village residence as a means for mitigating some of the hardships which beset the lives of isolated country families.

The wide-spread and growing interest in the topics considered makes it seem worth while to give these short essays a more permanent form.

G. E. W., JR. NEWPORT, R.I., June, 1877.
























It may be because the newness of our country and the fragile character of our early structures have prevented the accumulation of inferior, ugly, and uncomfortable houses, as the nucleus around which later building has crystallized; it may be from circumstances which have prevented the isolated residence of the better classes of our people; or it may be the result of accident. Whatever the reason, it is beyond dispute that the United States is par excellence a land of beautiful villages. North, south, east, and west, there are plenty of hideous conglomerations of poor-looking houses, with an absence of every element of beauty; but there are thousands of other villages scattered all over the land, which are full of the evidences of good taste in their regulation and in their management.

As a rule, these more attractive features are very much modified by the presence of badly-kept private places or neglected public buildings, and by a general air of untidiness. Still, the foundation of attractiveness is there; and nothing is needed beyond a well-organized and well-guided control of public sentiment, to remove or to hide the more objectionable features, and to permit such beauty as the village may possess to manifest itself.

The real elements of beauty in a village are not fine houses, costly fences, paved roadways, geometrical lines, mathematical grading, nor any obviously costly improvements. They are, rather, cosiness, neatness, simplicity, and that homely air that grows from these and from the presence of a home-loving people.

To state the case tersely, the shiftless village is a hideous village, while the charm which we often realize without analyzing it comes of affectionate care and attention.

There are villages in New England, in Western New York, and all over the West, even to the far side of Arkansas, which impress the visitor at once as being homelike and full of sociability and kindliness; which delight him, and lead him almost to wish that his own lot had been cast within their shades. These are chiefly villages where the evidences of public and private care predominate, or are at least conspicuous. A critical examination would, in almost every case, develop very serious evidence of neglect, unwholesomeness, and bad neighborhood.

Within a few years, beginning, I believe, in Massachusetts, the more thoughtful of those whose affections are centred in their village homes have united in organized efforts to make their villages more tidy, to interest all classes of society in attention to those little details the neglect of which is fatal, and to make the village, what it certainly should be, an expression of the interest of its people in their homes and in the surroundings of their daily life.

The first of these associations of which I have any knowledge (though, as such work is unobtrusive, there may have been many before it) was the "Laurel Hill Association" of Stockbridge, Mass. It takes its name from a wooded knoll in the centre of the village, which had been dedicated to public use. The first object of the association was to convert this knoll into a village park. Then they took in hand the village burial-ground, which was put in proper condition and suitably surrounded with hedge and railing. Then the broad village street was properly graded and drained, and agreeable walks were made at its sides. Incidentally to this, the people living along both sides of the streets were encouraged to do what they could to give it an appropriate setting by putting their own premises into tasteful condition and maintaining them so. The organization worked well, and accomplished good results. The Rev. N. P. Eggleston, formerly of Stockbridge, in a paper on village improvements written for the "New York Tribune," thus describes the collateral work and influences of the Laurel Hill Association:—

"Next followed the planting of trees by the roadside wherever trees were lacking. The children, sometimes disposed in their thoughtlessness to treat young trees too rudely, were brought in as helpers of the association, while at the same time put under a beneficial culture for themselves. Any boy who would undertake to watch and care for a particular tree for two years was rewarded by having the tree called by his name. Other children were paid for all the loose papers and other unsightly things which they would pick up and remove from the street.

"Gradually the work of the association extended. It soon took in hand the streets connected with the main street. Year by year it pushed out walks from the centre of the village toward its outer borders; year by year it extended its line of trees in the same manner; and year by year there has been a marked improvement in the aspect of the village. Little by little, and in many nameless ways, the houses and barns, the dooryards and farms, have come to wear a look of neatness and intelligent, tasteful care, that makes the Stockbridge of to-day quite a different place from the Stockbridge of twenty years ago. Travellers passing through it are apt to speak of it with admiration as a finished place, and, compared with most even of our New England villages, it has such a look; but the Laurel Hill Association does not consider its home finished, nor its own work completed. Still the work goes on. Committees are even now conning plans for further improvements. By itself, or by suggestions and stimulations offered to others, the association is aiming at the culture of the village people through other agencies than those of outward and physical adornment. It fosters libraries, reading-rooms, and other places of resort where innocent and healthful games, music and conversation will tend to promote the social feeling, and lessen vice by removing some of its causes."

No one can drive through this beautiful old place without realizing the effect of some influence different from that which has usually been at work in country towns. One feels that it is a village of homes; that the people who live in it love it, and that it has no public or private interest so insignificant as to be neglected.

I have cited this instance somewhat at length, because it was the first, as it is the most complete, that has come to my notice. In other places, more serious work of improvement has been undertaken in the direction of sewerage, gas-lighting, &c. In fact, the present writing was suggested by frequent requests for information and advice on the more practical parts of the subject.

At the outset it is to be said that the organization and control of the village society is especially woman's work. It requires the sort of systematized attention to detail, especially in the constantly-recurring duty of "cleaning up," that grows more naturally out of the habit of good housekeeping than out of any occupation to which men are accustomed. Then, too, it calls for a degree of leisure which women are the most apt to have, and it will especially engage their interest as being a real addition to the field of their ordinary routine of life. The sort of enthusiasm which has led to marked success in the Dorcas Society and other organized action outside of the household, for which American country women are noted, will find here a new and engaging object. This, however, is only a suggestion by the way, and one which may or may not be appropriate under varying circumstances.

If we assume, which is not altogether true, that the main purpose of village improvement is to improve the appearance of the village, we must still understand that the direct object of the society should not be alone nor chiefly in the direction of appearance.

What it is especially desirable that a village should appear to be is: a wholesome, cleanly, tidy, simple, modest collection of country homes, with all of its parts and appliances adapted to the pleasantest and most satisfactory living of its people. All improvements should therefore have this fundamental tendency, and every element of adornment, and every evidence of careful attention, should be only an outgrowth of the effort to obtain the best practical results. Costly park railing where no railing is needed, width of roadway greater than the needs of the community require, formal geometric lines and surfaces where more natural slopes and curves would be practically better, elaborate fountains or statuary out of keeping with the general character of the village, (the gift of a public-spirited, ambitious, and pretentious fellow-townsman,) and isolated examples, as in a church or schoolhouse, of a style of architecture which would be more appropriate for a city,—all these are obtrusive and objectionable, and are consequently in bad taste. In so far as these or any other elements of improvement are unsuited to the conditions in which they are placed, they are undesirable; and it would be well for those having the interest of the village in charge, to adopt an early resolution to accept no gifts, and to allow no work of construction or embellishment, which is not, first of all, appropriate to the modest character of a well-regulated country village.

If every public building is sufficient for its uses and suggests no undue outlay for show alone; if the roads and walks are such as the uses of the people require; if the fountain suggests a tasteful ornament and centre of freshness and coolness, rather than a monument of some citizens liberality and ambition; if the village green or park is a proper pleasure-ground for old and young; and, in short, if every thing that is done and every dollar that is expended has for its object only the improvement of the conditions of living,—then there will be needed only the element of careful keeping to maintain always the best sort of beauty that is possible under the circumstances.

No satisfactory result can be attained without organization. The work will necessarily require much money and more time in order to avoid an undue tax upon individuals. It is desirable, too, that, so far as possible, every member of the community should be interested in the work, and should contribute in labor or in money according to his means. This general interest can be secured much better through the influence of an organization in which all are interested, than by any individual effort.

The association should become the distributor, not only of the moneys accruing from membership fees, &c., but of contributions made by citizens, or subscriptions raised by combined effort for general or specific works of improvement. It should be, in fact, not only the inciter of public spirit, but the director of public effort.

The precise form of constitution for such an association must necessarily depend more or less on circumstances; and I sketch only as a basis for discussion, the following form suggested by the regulations governing the Laurel Hill Association of Stockbridge:—


This Association shall be called "The Village Improvement Association of ——."


The object of this Association shall be to improve and ornament the streets and public grounds of the village by planting and cultivating trees, establishing and maintaining walks, grading and draining roadways, establishing and protecting good grass plats and borders in the streets and public squares, securing a proper public supply of water, establishing and maintaining such sewerage as shall be needed for the best sanitary condition of the village, providing public fountains and drinking-troughs, breaking out paths through the snow, lighting the streets, encouraging the formation of a library and reading-room, and generally doing whatever may tend to the improvement of the village as a place of residence.


The officers of this Association shall be a President, two Vice-Presidents, a Secretary, and a Treasurer, who shall constitute the Executive Committee. These officers shall be elected at the annual meeting, and shall hold their offices until their successors shall have been elected.


It shall be the duty of the President, and in his absence of the senior Vice-President, to preside at all meetings of the Association, and to carry out all orders of the Executive Committee.


It shall be the duty of the Secretary to keep a correct and careful record of all proceedings of the Association, and of the Executive Committee, in a book suitable for their preservation; to give notice of all meetings of the Association and of the Executive Committee; to make all publications, and to give all public and private notices ordered by the Executive Committee, and to attend to all the correspondence of the Association.


It shall be the duty of the Treasurer to keep the funds of the Association, and to make such disbursements as may be ordered by the Executive Committee.


It shall be the duty of the Executive Committee to manage all the affairs of the Association, to employ all laborers, to make all contracts, to expend all moneys, and generally to direct and superintend all improvements which in their discretion, and with the means at their command, will best serve the public interest. The Executive Committee shall hold a meeting at least once in each month, and as much oftener as they may deem expedient.

The Executive Committee shall have power to institute premiums to be awarded for planting and protecting ornamental trees, and for doing such other acts as may seem to them worthy of such encouragement. They shall also encourage frequent public meetings of the Association and of citizens generally, both with a view to maintain an interest in their work, and for the general encouragement of the habit of meeting for discussion and amusement.


Three members of the Executive Committee present at any meeting shall constitute a quorum for transacting business; and the vote of a majority of those present shall be binding on the Association.


No debt shall be contracted by the Executive Committee beyond the amount of available funds within their control to pay it; and no member of this Association shall be liable for any debt of the Association beyond the amount of his or her subscription.


Every person over fourteen years of age who shall plant and protect a tree under the direction of the Executive Committee, or who shall pay the sum of one dollar annually, and shall obligate him or herself to pay the same for three years, shall be a member of this Association; and every child under fourteen years of age, who shall pay or shall become obligated to pay as before the sum of twenty-five cents annually for three years, shall be a member of this Association.


The payment of ten dollars annually for three years, or of twenty-five dollars in one sum, shall constitute a person a member of this Association for life.


The autograph signatures of all members of the Association shall be preserved in a book suitable for that purpose.


An annual meeting of the Association shall be held at such place as the Executive Committee may direct, on the fourth Wednesday of August, at two o'clock, P.M. Notice of such meeting shall be posted on each of the churches and at the post-office at least seven days prior to the time of holding said meetings, and a written notice shall be sent to all non-resident members. Other meetings of the Association may be called by the Executive Committee on seven days' notice as above prescribed.


At the annual meeting, the Executive Committee shall report the amount of money received during the year, and the source from which it has been received; the amount of money expended during the year, and the objects for which it has been expended; the number of trees planted at the cost of the Association; the number planted by individuals, with the location, the kind of tree, and the name of the planter; and generally all of the acts of the Committee. This report shall be entered on the record of the Association.


Any person who shall plant a tree under the direction of the Executive Committee, and shall protect it for five years, shall be entitled to have such tree known forever by his or her name.


This Constitution may be amended by the Executive Committee with the approval of the majority of the members present at any annual meeting of the Association, or at any special meeting, the notice of which shall have been accompanied by a copy of the proposed amendment, with the statement that the amendment is to be voted on at such meeting.

I have provided, in the above draft of a constitution, for an executive committee of only five members; for the reason that, while it will be comparatively easy to secure the services of this number, the duties and responsibilities of a larger committee would be so distributed that there would be too often occasion for the application of the old adage: "What is everybody's business is nobody's business." The Laurel Hill Association has an executive committee of fifteen, in addition to seven officers. This large committee (twenty-two) serves to secure the interest of a larger number of citizens; but the same thing may be as well accomplished by inviting the co-operation of citizens in the work of sub-committees, the chairman of each of which would be a member of the regular executive committee. In Easthampton, Mass., there is a board of fourteen directors, and there are committees on sanitary matters, on setting out trees, on sidewalks and hitching-posts, &c. It would be prudent to restrict the number of members of these sub-committees to three; one from the executive committee and two from outside.

Besides special executive work, a vast deal has been done wherever improvement societies have been organized, in the way of stimulating citizens to adorn their private grounds, or at least to keep their grounds and fences in good order, removing weeds and rubbish from the sidewalk, keeping the grass well trimmed and free from litter and leaves. What most detracts from the good appearance of any village is the slovenly look which comes from badly hung gates, crooked fences, absent pickets, and general shiftlessness about private places; and it is by encouraging citizens to take a pride in attention to these minor details, that the association will do its best work. This result may be accomplished almost entirely without the expenditure of money. It is in attention to little things and in securing the co-operation of private owners,—a co-operation which will call for an inappreciable amount of labor,—that the most telling work of the officers of the society is to be done.

So far as these details are concerned, it is hardly necessary in a paper of this sort to do more than to call attention to them. They are within the capacity of every citizen, and they will naturally suggest themselves to any person who would be likely to undertake the direction of an improvement association. There are other and really more important objects looking to a certain amount of landscape gardening and engineering, on which specific instruction may be desired, and often in cases where it will be impracticable to employ professional assistance. These are as follows:—

1. The construction of sidewalks.

2. The construction and care of roadways.

3. The supply of water, and the construction of drinking-troughs.

4. The laying-out and adornment of public squares and other open spaces.

5. The establishment of a system of sewerage or sanitary drainage, including the removal of excessive soil moisture.


No one thing has more to do with the comfort of those living in country villages than sidewalks which are good at all seasons of the year. Those fortunate villages which are built on a gravelly soil, with a perfect natural drainage, need little more in this direction than such a conformation of the surface as will prevent water from standing on the footway when the ground is frozen. At all other times it sinks naturally away into the earth. It is much more often the case that the character of the soil or subsoil prevents a settling away of water, or that subterranean oozing from higher ground keeps the earth throughout the spring and autumn, and after heavy rains in summer, damp, and often sloppy. Wherever the ground is of such a character as to prevent the rapid sinking to a considerable depth of all excessive moisture, there is sure to be a disagreeable condition of the footway whenever the lower soil is locked with frost, and the surface is thawed. Even with the best drainage, natural or artificial, this condition will exist for a short time while frost is coming out of the ground; but with good drainage it is of so temporary a character as hardly to justify any expensive finishing of the surface, except perhaps in the case of the most frequented walks.

To overcome occasional sloppiness where the difficulty is not deep-seated, there is no cheaper nor better device than to dress the surface with coal-ashes. Indeed, if these are used to a sufficient thickness, they are practically as good as concrete or the best gravel. When first applied, they are dusty and unpleasant; but the first wetting lays the dust, and they soon settle to a firm consistency, and make a very pleasant walk, with the great advantage of being entirely barren, and preventing the growth of weeds and grass. If the ashes of a village are collected and screened, the cinders being used at the bottom, and the surface being smoothly dressed with the finer material, they will make as satisfactory walks, even where the use is considerable, as any other material. The color is unobtrusive, and the surface soon becomes hard enough to bear sweeping. Those who are more ambitious for effect may prefer a walk made of tar-and-gravel concrete; and this, if well made, is good, durable, and satisfactory. So far as the improvement association is concerned, it can find many ways for expending the difference of cost between ashes and concrete, which will accomplish a much more telling result.

If gravel can be obtained without too much expense, it may be used with excellent results to a depth of from one to three inches, according to the porosity of the subsoil,—more being needed where the ground is inclined to become soft. In using gravel it is best either to screen it, using the coarser parts below and the finer parts at the surface, or, after applying it, to add a thin layer of earth, barely sufficient to fill its spaces,—to "bind" it so as to give it a firm and solid consistency. Loose and rattling gravel makes a handsome walk to look at, but an unpleasant one to walk upon. Nothing is more agreeable than well-trodden, dry, root-bound earth, as where grass has been worn away by frequent use; but this becomes at once objectionable on being saturated with rain or moistened by melting frost.

It is a common impression, that all thoroughly good foot-paths must be dug out to a considerable depth, filled with loose stones, and dressed at the top with some good finishing material; but this is not necessary even for the best work. The great point is to secure a thorough draining of the sub-stratum, so that there shall be no rising of ooze-water from below, and so that the ground shall be free from such saturation as to cause heaving during frost. This condition may be secured by a suitable draining of the ground immediately under the walk, and by the use of a well-compacted and tightly-bound surface covering of such form as to shed or turn away rain-water. Figure 1 (p. 31) shows the cross section of a foot-path six feet wide on slightly sloping ground, where we have to apprehend an oozing of subsoil water from the land at the highest side. The centre of the walk is slightly crowning,—say one inch higher than the sides,—so that rain falling upon it will flow readily toward the grass-border at either side. To prevent the ponding of water at the sides when the ground is frozen, the surface of the walk at its edges should be well above the level of the adjoining ground; but it may be necessary under some circumstances to furnish, here and there, a channel or surface-gutter across the walk, to allow the accumulation at the higher side to escape. Rarely will deep gutters at the sides be necessary or desirable. If the walk is laid at a sufficient height to turn water on to the adjoining ground instead of receiving water from this, it will be easy to keep it dry. We will assume that the path in question is to be made over a tenacious clay soil, with a considerable oozing from the hillside,—the most unfavorable condition that can be found, especially in cold climates. The first thing to be secured is the cutting-off of the subsoil water from the hill. This may be done by digging a trench as narrow as possible,—six inches will be better than more, as requiring less filling material,—to a depth of three feet. In the bottom of this drain lay a common land-tile drain, with collars at the joints if these can be procured, and, if not, with a bit of paper laid over the joints to prevent the entrance of loose material, and to hold the pipes in place during construction. The ditch should then be filled with cinders, gravel, or coarse sand. If stones are to be used, they should be broken to a small size,—not more than one inch in diameter,—and the loose bits should be mixed with them in the filling. Very small interstices will be sufficient to allow water to pass freely through, while if large stones are used, with large interstices, there will be danger of a washing-in of earth sufficient in time to obstruct both the stonework and the tile. The smaller the tile, so long as it is sufficient for its purpose, the better; for lengths of five hundred feet or less, an interior diameter of an inch and a quarter will be sufficient; from this to one thousand feet, use an inch and a half bore. If possible, before exceeding this length, secure an outlet for the water in the roadside gutter or some other channel of exit. The tile-drain, at a depth of three feet, will remove all subsoil water from under the walk, and all that may be delivered into the loosely filled trench at its side. The loose filling of the trench should not be carried nearer than within six inches of the surface of the ground, and should be covered with fine and well-packed earth to prevent the entrance of surface-water which would soon carry in silt enough to stop its action. Whatever covering is adopted for the walk itself, it must be of such a character as to prevent any thing like a free admission of surface-water. Concrete will do this perfectly; and either ashes, or gravel dressed at the top with ashes, if well raked and rolled at the outset to a smooth surface, will soon become so bound together as to shed pretty nearly all rain falling upon it. The difference in cost between a walk made in this way, and one dug out for its whole width to a depth of two feet, and filled first with stone and then with gravel and a suitable surface dressing, will be very important; and it is safe to say that the cheaper will be at least as good and durable as the more expensive method. In all construction of sidewalks, whether public or private, regard must be had to the surface conformation, and some device must be adopted for preventing the flow of water upon the walk from the adjoining ground, and for the easy delivery of storm-water falling upon the walk itself.


The great expense of Macadamizing or Telfordizing puts these systems almost out of the reach of small communities. Wherever the original expense can be borne, the subsequent cost of maintenance will be so slight, and the result generally will be so satisfactory, as to make it always a good investment. The circumstances under which these costly forms of construction may be adopted will be greatly extended if we can overcome the prevalent American prejudice in favor of wide roadways. Against wide streets there is, as a rule, no objection, though exceptional narrow and well-shaded lanes have a rural charm that will always commend them to persons of taste. A wide street, that is, broad spaces between fences, by no means implies a broad roadway. All we need in the principal thoroughfare of a busy village is such a width as will allow of the easy passing of vehicles in the middle of the road, and the standing of one vehicle at rest at each side. This will be accomplished, even in the business street of a village, by a width of roadway of thirty feet. Under most other circumstances twenty feet of roadway will be ample. This will allow of the moving of three vehicles side by side, and will give a leeway of six feet between two vehicles passing each other.

On both sides of this roadway, except for the necessary sidewalks, the whole space to the fences should be in well-kept grass, which is the cheapest to secure, the most economical to maintain, and the most agreeable to see, of all ground covering. It is not unusual in country towns to find a width of from sixty to eighty feet devoted to a muddy, dusty, and ill-kept roadway. From one-half to two-thirds of this width is waste space, which must either remain an eyesore, or entail an undue cost for maintenance. When both sides of the street are occupied by places of business, it may be necessary to provide for some occasional driving close to the buildings for the delivery of merchandise; but this occasion will rarely be so regular as to cause any serious damage to grass. If the line of hitching-posts is placed within fifteen feet of the centre of the roadway on each side, it will be seldom that any one will drive over the bordering grass, especially if there is, as there generally should be, a well-defined gutter or well-kept grass with a curbstone border at each side.

In considering the width to be given to roadways, it should be understood that every form of road is more or less costly to make and to keep in order, and that the cost of both items is in direct proportion to the width. If to the cost of making and grading an ordinary roadway sixty feet wide, we add the capital sum whose interest would be necessary to keep this width in good repair, we shall have an amount that would go far toward the construction and maintenance of a road of the very best quality only thirty feet wide. Furthermore, while it is impossible to estimate such items exactly, and while the amount thus saved cannot be controlled for the road-making account, the saving in the wear and tear of vehicles, and in the team force needed to move heavy loads, constitutes an important argument in favor of the best construction. The amount thus saved in the short streets of the village, where the principal traffic is over rough country roads, would not be very great, but it would enable the road authorities of the township to realize the advantage of first-rate roads and the degree to which the narrowing of the roadway cheapens construction. As a result, there would soon be an extension of the improvement over the more important highways into the country; where a well-metalled width of twelve feet would accommodate nearly the whole traffic, and where the proper application of a cheap system of under-drainage would make well-metalled roads extremely cheap to maintain.

In the island of Jersey, there are many excellent roads only six feet wide. These are provided with frequent little bays or turn-outs to allow teams to pass each other. Although such extremely narrow roads are not to be recommended, the difference in comfort and economy of teampower between these and the average American dirt road is enormously in their favor. The widest roads in Jersey, leading from a busy town of thirty thousand inhabitants into a thickly settled farming region where business and pleasure travel is very active, and where "excursion cars" carrying thirty or forty persons are constantly passing, are only twenty-four feet wide; often only of this width between the hedge-rows, the road itself being an excellent footpath for its whole width. Nowhere else in the world is the rural charm more perfectly developed than in Jersey, and no element of its great beauty is so conspicuous and so constantly satisfactory as its narrow and embowered lanes and roadways.

This, however, by the way, and only as a suggestion, for the sake of variety. As a rule, we may at least accept much less width than is now usual for our country and village roads. Wherever it is intended to build expensive stone roads, those having the work in charge will naturally employ a competent engineer, or will at least appeal to Prof. Gillespie's work on road-making, or to some other authority. Space need not be given here to engineering details, which would require a lengthy elucidation. There is, however, a sort of road-making materially more costly at the outset than that now in vogue, but much less costly in the long-run, if we consider the element of practical value and the cost of maintenance. It depends more on fundamental principles of construction than on special processes of finishing, and will be more or less satisfactory according to the character of the soil and of the covering material available.

The great enemy of all roads is excessive moisture; and the chief purpose of all methods of improvement is to get rid of this, or to counteract its effect. As in the case of foot-paths, wherever the porous character of the subsoil, and the absence of higher-lying wet lands, is such that no accumulation of water upon or under the roadway need be feared, the greatest difficulty is at once set aside. Roads lying on such a soil may be over-dusty in dry weather. When the subsoil is temporarily impervious because of its frozen condition, they may become unduly muddy, or, when the situation is such as to lead hill-water upon them, they may be badly washed; but they are free from the great difficulties that beset all roads which for a large part of the year are underlaid by an over-saturated, compact subsoil. Where such natural drainage is secured, no artificial under-drainage will be needed. In many more instances, all that will be required in the way of draining will be to lead away the sources of wet-weather springs, which break through the road-bed and cause deep sloughs. Where incomplete or partial artificial under-draining is needed, the need is absolute; and whether we consider the durability of the road, or the degree to which its traffic is interfered with by its wet condition, we may be confident that every dollar spent in well-directed under-draining will be invested to the very best advantage. The varying conditions of wetness, and the different sources of surplus water, must be regarded in deciding precisely how much of this work is needed, and how it should be done. Details cannot be fully considered here; but as a general rule it may be said, that where the subsoil generally is of an impervious character, and where the road is more or less wet and weeping after long rains, a continuous system of under-drains is required. If the trouble is local, here and there in spots, and is obviously caused by the breaking up of springs from the road-bed, such partial work may be adopted as will tap the sources of these springs, and lead their water harmlessly away. Gisborne, one of the best agricultural writers of England, put the case tersely and well when—objecting to the system of circumventing springs—he said, "Hit him straight in the eye, is as good a maxim in draining as in pugilism." It is best not to pass up at the side of a spring, and so creep around behind it to head off its water; but to drive the drain straight through it, and far enough beyond it to tap and lead away at a lower level the water which causes it. These drains, as well as all others intended simply to remove subsoil water, and not to cut off a weeping stream, are best made with common drain-tiles laid as before directed, and covered immediately with well-packed earth. Water enters an under-drain, not from above, but from below; that is to say, as water, from whatever source, fills the subsoil, it rises therein until it reaches the floor of the drain, when it enters and is led away, just as water falling into a cask which stands on end flows off at the under side of the bung-hole when it reaches its level. Even if the cask be filled to the top with earth, the rain falling upon it will descend perpendicularly to the bottom, and will flow off at the bung only when the soil to that level has become saturated. It will descend through the soil by the straightest course, and will raise the general level. It will not violate the laws of gravitation, and run diagonally toward the point of outlet, as seems to be the general supposition when the perplexing question, "How does water get into the drain?" is first considered. When we drive a drain through a spring and into the water-bearing stratum which feeds it, we simply make it easier for the water to escape by the drain than to keep on at the higher level, and break out at the surface of the ground.

As in the case of the sidewalk illustrated in Figure 1, in cutting off a continuous weeping or ooze from higher land, it is best to introduce a vertical filling of porous material through which the water will descend and enter the drain; but, excepting this single instance, all that we need to do, so far as subterranean work is concerned, is to furnish an easy and sufficient channel for the removal of subsoil water.

What constitutes a sufficient drain is something very much less than what is generally supposed. In ordinary agricultural drainage, where the lines of tiles are forty feet apart, a well-laid tile an inch and a quarter in diameter is sufficient for a length of one thousand feet—that is, it is sufficient to remove the water of filtration from an acre of land. If laid with only an inclination of six inches in one hundred feet, its delivery will be so rapid as to amount to more than a heavy continuous rain-fall upon this area. In road drainage, the same rule would hold true; but, as the soil offers a certain resistance to the rapid descent of water, it is best to give a means of outlet at smaller intervals; and for the best work in roads thirty feet wide or more, three drains could be used with advantage. In no case, however, need the size of pipes be larger than above indicated, if the form of the tiles is true, and if they are well joined together at their ends. Tiles of less perfect form had better be an inch and a half or even two inches in diameter; but, as a rule, they should not be of a larger size, for the reason that the amount of water that they may be expected to carry will not be sufficient to keep them prop erly freed from silt unless the flow is concentrated within a narrow channel.

Figure 2 shows the cross section of a country road thirty feet wide, with three lines of tile-drain laid at a depth of about three feet below it. Except in case of necessity, these drains should have an inclination of not less than six inches in one hundred feet. There is no objection to their having more than this wherever the lay of the land permits or requires it. They may often have considerably less in case of need; but, the smaller the rate of inclination, the greater the care needed in securing a true grade. The water of these drains should be collected into a single drain, and led away at intervals of from five hundred to one thousand feet. It may be delivered into a roadside gutter, or into a collecting under-drain, according to the requirements of the situation.

It is now possible to procure drain-tiles at reasonable cost in almost all parts of the country; and these are not only very much better than any form of stone drain, but they are also much cheaper in construction,—the labor of preparing and handling the stone, and of excavating the wider trench that stone requires, amounting to more than the cost of the tile, even with a high charge of transportation added. Incidentally it is proper to say that where tiles cannot be had, a mass of gravel or fine cinders, six inches wide and six inches deep, placed at the bottom of the drain, and covered with well-packed soil, is preferable even to broken stone or any other form of channel that would permit of the rapid running of water and the washing into the drains of even a slight amount of silt.

The removal of excessive subsoil moisture being secured, attention should next be given to the surface of the road, which should be finished with the firmest material at hand,—with the common earth of the subsoil where nothing better can be afforded,—and which should be brought to a true grade, with a very slight slope from the centre to the edge. For a road thirty feet wide, the elevation of the centre above the level of the edges should not be more than four to six inches, and the grade should be made on a straight line rather than on a curve. If the road is made as flat as the turning-off of surface-water will permit, it will be travelled upon in all its parts; while if it is crowned to a high arch, as is often the case, it will soon be found that the best place to drive is in the middle of the road, and foot-tracks and wheel-tracks will soon form slight channels or ruts which will lead water lengthwise along the road, and which will cause an undue amount of wear and washing. A road may be actually flat to the eye, and equally convenient for travel at every part of its width, and still have enough lateral slope to cause water to run off from it.

It is especially desirable that no surface-water flowing from the roadside (above all, when frost is coming out of the ground in the spring) be permitted to run on to the road. This should be effectively prevented by the formation of sufficient gutters, with such outlets as will prevent ponding at the sides of the road. When it is necessary to carry the water of the gutters from one side of the road to the other, culverts should be provided; and wherever the slope of the road is sufficient to cause water to flow along it lengthwise,—that is, wherever the inclination is more than about one in fifty,—there should be frequent slight depressions from the centre diagonally toward the gutters to carry the flow away before it can accumulate sufficiently to form a washing current.

If it can be done without hauling additional material, it is always well to raise the road-bed somewhat above the level of the adjoining land, and this may usually be accomplished by throwing upon it the subsoil of the gutters. In no case should surface-soil sods or fine road-mud be used for repairs. The most serious objection to the absurd system of road-mending so common in this country lies in the fact that the annual repairing is little more than the ploughing up and throwing back upon the roadway of the soft and unsuitable material which has been washed into the gutters.

What is said above applies especially to country roads; but it is appropriate, so far as it goes, to the better-made and better-kept roads of a village. In the case of these latter, except where the soil is naturally dry and firm, some attention should be given to the improvement of the surface; and it is to be considered whether to adopt the expensive process of covering with broken stone road-metal, or to use gravel. One or the other of these is desirable in all cases where there is much tendency to sloppiness in wet weather; but any form of artificial covering is so costly that the early efforts of the improvement association will produce a more telling result if applied in other directions. The necessary cross-walks may be satisfactorily made with coal-ashes.

It is even more easy in a village than in the country, to have the grades of all roadways so regulated as to shed rain-water falling upon them, and to have them so furnished with side gutters so as to prevent water from the roadside from running on to them. The simplest way to effect this, and the neatest way too, is to make gutters outside of the line of the road, say six inches deep and eight feet wide, these being at once sodded or sown with grass and grain to give an early protection against washing; made on such a shallow curve, they will afford no obstruction to any system of mowing that may be adopted, while their great width will give them sufficient capacity to carry away the water of considerable storms.

The work of construction having been duly attended to, it is no less important to provide for regular and constant care. Any rutting that comes of heavy traffic in bad weather should be obliterated either by raking, or, better still, by filling the ruts with gravel or ashes. If such work is attended to immediately on the occasion for it arising, the amount of labor required will be very slight; for it is especially true with reference to roads, that "a stitch in time saves nine." If the filling of ruts and wheel-tracks be done in time, the serious damage that comes from guttering flows of water lengthwise along the road may be almost entirely avoided.

The mere cleaning work of both the roadway and roadside grass spaces, it will be easy to induce children to perform for slight rewards and encouragement. The daily removal of bits of paper and other rubbish will have an excellent effect on the general appearance of the village. In the autumn the removal of the fallen leaves will call for something more than children's work; but ordinarily this source of cheap labor will be found sufficient if properly directed.


As a field for encouragement, rather than as an object for the expenditure of the association's funds, the furnishing of an ample supply of water is entitled to very early consideration. Not only is the question of public health very seriously involved in the water problem; but as a mere beautifying element an abundance of water, to be obtained without labor, will have a very telling effect by the facility it gives for preserving the fresh appearance of lawns and shrubbery, and for the cultivation of flowers and vines.

Regarded from the horticulturist's point of view, the climate of pretty nearly the whole of this country is simply detestable. We may arrange to withstand very well the severity of our northern winters; we expect an entire shutting-up of all garden industries, and long cold seasons are an accustomed matter of necessity: but we have never yet learned to accept with patience the almost annual destruction of our lawns and gardens and flower-beds by scathing drought. No public water supply available for an ordinary village would suffice to overcome the effects of a dry season over the whole of even a small homestead; but we may hope to secure enough to keep one or two small sprinklers flowing steadily through the hot months, and so keep a little grass measurably green, and preserve a semblance of life and beauty in flower-beds and delicate shrubbery. It is very rarely that it will be possible to supply water enough in a whole week to equal in its effect a half-hour's rain; but the difference between towns where even the small amount of water is available for the garden and those which are hopelessly given over to drought shows how much may be accomplished in this direction even with limited means.

As in the case of road-making in any thing like a complete and thorough manner, the providing of a water supply must necessarily be directed by professional advice. Although the simpler principles of hydraulics are sufficiently understood, and although it would be quite within the ability of a number of the more intelligent men of any village to secure and distribute a satisfactory amount of water, the cost of doing such work in an experimental way by persons unaccustomed to its details, as compared with the cost of doing it under the direction of an engineer whose natural judgment and capacity are supplemented by experience and skill, would be without doubt far beyond the fee demanded for his services. In this case, as in many others connected with public and private works, it is always bad economy to save the cost of proper knowledge. Very likely—perhaps indeed very generally—the actual performance of the work, the buying and laying of the pipe, and all that, can be as cheaply done under home direction as under that of a public contractor; but the making of the plans—the deciding upon the source of the supply, upon the means for securing a sufficient head, the sizes of the pipes, the location and construction of fire-plugs, and all the minor details of the work—will be more or less economical, according to the skill, experience, and capacity of the person who directs it.

The sources from which water may be obtained are various. Often enough water of the best quality may be procured by driven, dug, or artesian wells; but, whenever this course is adopted, the wells should be located far enough away from the village, or on land sufficiently high, to make it impossible that there shall be any fouling of the water-bearing strata by the filtration from barn-yards, privy-vaults, or cesspools. Generally, water so secured will have to be raised to an elevated reservoir by some mechanical force. If the demand is to be a large one, and if the community can afford the cost, the most reliable plan will be to use steam-power for pumping; but in smaller places, and where economy is a great object, wind-power may serve an excellent purpose.

If a stream of pure water is available at a sufficient height, it may be led directly to the reservoir, or its current may be used to drive a water-wheel sufficient to do the pumping. In a majority of cases there will be found at no great distance a stream capable of supplying the water needed throughout the dryest season of the year, but not entirely free from organic impurities. In such cases it is often feasible, by excavating a filtering sump or pump-well at a little distance from the side of the stream, and at a sufficient depth below the level of its bed to secure a supply tolerably purified by filtration through the intervening earth. The distance at which this sump should be placed from the bed of the stream will depend on the character of the soil. The more porous this is, the greater should the distance be. This question as to the source from which the water is to be taken is one which, more than any other, calls for experienced judgment.

Frequently the conformation of the surrounding country is such that, even where there is no constant stream, it is possible by the construction of dams to pond an amount of water, to be furnished by surface washing, sufficient to supply the demands of the longest drought. In this case, as in all others where reservoirs are used, it is important to have a good depth of water, and not to allow, even toward the edges, any considerable shallow area. So far as possible, the depth should be everywhere great enough to prevent vegetation, and in all the shallower parts the surface soil should be entirely removed. As a rule, there should be a depth of at least fifteen feet of water, except near the very edges of the pond, and as much more than this as circumstances will allow.

The distribution of water for private use is a simple question of construction; but, as a matter of taste, too vehement a protest cannot be entered against the common misconception as to what is desirable in the way of public fountains. An instance in point is furnished by the public drinking-fountain in Newport. Some years ago there stood at the foot of the Parade a grand old stone bowl, hewn out of a solid block of granite, and filled by a pipe leading from a copious spring. This was a good, sensible, substantial drinking-trough, perfectly adapted to its use, unpretending and handsome. Later, a public-spirited gentleman, desiring to leave a monument of his regard for the city, gave a considerable sum to be used in providing a suitable drinking-fountain at this point. Those who had the control of the fund lacked either the good taste or the courage to refuse to expend it. The result is that this granite horse-basin—one of the best of its sort—has been removed to an obscure position; and there has been erected in its place a wretched cast-iron combination of bad architecture and bad statuary, such as form a conspicuous defacement of the public squares in Philadelphia, where they serve the double purpose of furnishing water to the people, and advertising a cheap clothing establishment. The one compensation for the violation of good taste inseparable from these constructions is to be found in the fact that they must, sooner or later, lead the public to realize the absolute unfitness of cast iron for monumental and decorative uses. With the artistic influences which are now so active in the instruction of the American people, it is not perhaps unreasonable to look forward to the day when all of these piles of pot-metal shall be relegated to the scrap-heap, and when less offensive fountains shall take their place. We may even hope to see the iron statue and its stove-like support which supplies water to the horses of Newport condemned to the foundry, and its solid old predecessor restored to the position which it ornamented for so many years.

A wide margin may be allowed for the exercise of taste in the arrangement of village fountains; and where private munificence enables the expenditure of a considerable sum, a good amount of exterior decoration may be admissible: but it should always be borne in mind that so much of the outlay as is needed for the purpose should go to secure a good artistic design. Especially should the use of cast iron be avoided, as being from every point of view, and under all circumstances, whether in the shape of cast-iron dogs or deer, or attempts at the divine human form, absolutely and entirely inadmissible for artistic uses. Better a dug-out log horse-trough, overflowing through a notch in its side, as an ornament to the best-kept village green, than the most elaborate pitcher-spilling nymph that was ever cast in an iron-foundry. So far as the mere construction work of public drinking-fountains and horse-troughs is concerned, not much need be said except in connection with the overflow. In cold climates, there is apt to be from all such structures a spilling of water which covers the ground for some distance with ice. This may be avoided by carrying the overflow by a vertical pipe descending through the body of the water by some well-protected channel directly into a drain in the ground, at a depth beyond the direct action of frosts. If the stream is constant, this depth need be nothing like that to which frost penetrates into the soil,—for the constant movement of the water will prevent its freezing, even if covered only a foot deep, though to something more than this depth it will be desirable to have the metal pipe enclosed in a larger pipe of earthenware, giving a space of enclosed air.

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Where there is no public supply of water, it is better in most cases (considering the nearness of wells in villages to cesspools and privy-vaults), to depend entirely upon cisterns. In our climate, where rain is abundant during a considerable portion of the year, the water falling upon the roof of any house, if properly collected and stored, is ample for the whole supply of the family which that roof shelters. This water as it falls is ordinarily free from any impurity that can affect its taste, and from every source of serious fouling; though, after a long-continued drought, it is well to divert and discharge upon the surface of the ground the first ten minutes' flow of a shower, so that the impurities of the air and the dust of the roof may first be removed. After this first dash, lead to the cistern all that follows. Even with this precaution, the water will be more agreeable for use if filtered. There are numerous systems for making filters in cisterns, but no other is so simple nor so durable and satisfactory as the separation of that part of the cistern from which the suction-pipe leads by a wall of brick and cement. It is simply necessary to build a wall of brick set on edge (two and a half inches thick), so as to include about one-quarter of the area of the bottom, sloping it back so as to terminate against the side of the cistern at a height of from four to six feet. This wall should be so well cemented at its joints that water can only pass through the material of brick, and for strength its form should be slightly bulging. A wall of this sort, measuring say six feet at its base, and rising to a height of six feet at its highest point, will transmit an amount of water sufficient to supply the demand of the most constant pumping that any domestic use can require.


As a rule, the open spaces in a country village are subject to no other criticism than that of neglect; but the exceptions are not rare where an attempt at improvement has resulted in a sort of cemetery look that gives any thing but a cheerful, pleasure-ground aspect.

There is not much danger that persons who are enthusiastic for the improvement of the town in which they live will err on the side of too great simplicity. The public squares and parks of large and wealthy cities are regulated and maintained at great cost and under skilful and artistic management; and they cannot fail to strike country visitors as being in all ways desirable. So indeed they are. They are a chief element of the city's beauty, and, from an aesthetic point of view, their influence is the best to which its people are subjected. But their beauty and their aesthetic influence are both the result of a well-directed expenditure of large sums of money. It is quite natural that an enriched manufacturer or merchant, proud of his native village, should be ambitious to perpetuate the memory of his benefaction by providing for some corresponding decoration of its public green, and that he should attempt to reproduce there, on the smaller scale proportionate to the circumstances, the sort of magnificence that he has seen in the city park. If left to his own sweet will,—as he often is if he is willing to spend money for the public benefit,—he will, unless a rich man of the rarer sort, succeed only in producing a conspicuous imitation.

A park-railing of artistically-worked wrought-iron will be represented by a cast-iron substitute of much more elaborate device; and there will probably be "piled on," here and there, an amount of cheap ornamentation which at the first glance will have a certain imposing effect. In the matter of planting there may be an amount and variety of foreign shrubbery and sub-tropical plants, which, under proper care, would be of great value and beauty, but which, with the neglect to which they are doomed in their village home, are quite certain to abort. In fact, we may expect to see, what indeed we may now see, in painful degree, in many of our smaller towns, a halting attempt at the outside show of the city park, which, in the absence of those elements of artistic selection and appropriateness to the conditions which are to prevail, develop, as time goes on, into an ignominious failure.

The trouble is, that, in all expenditures of this sort, we are apt to begin at the wrong end. In the making of a park, every step that is taken, whether the park be large or small, is a costly one; and, if taken in their reverse order, every step is a wasted one. The chief reason why the final decoration of a city park is so satisfactory is that it is only the crowning work of many processes which have had the best and most careful attention from the outset. The wrought-iron grille, the architectural fountain, the bronze statue, the delicate trees and shrubbery, and the smoothly-finished walks and drives, depend for their success upon a vast amount of costly fundamental work, and a provision for constant skilful care, which have cost a deal of money, and which look to a large permanent outlay. The elaborate fence must stand on no unstable foundation; the fountain must be only the ornamental central point of artistic and well-kept lawns and approaches; the statue must stand amid appropriate surroundings; and all but the simpler native vegetation must have its suitable soil, and be insured its needed protection and care at all seasons. The degree to which these more ornamental features may be given to the village green with any hope of satisfaction will depend almost entirely upon the thoroughness with which it has been prepared to receive them. Could the enthusiastic members of the improvement association be brought face to face with the cost that is needed for quite hidden fundamental work in order to prepare their green for the more elaborate artistic decoration, they would be deterred at the outset from attempting any thing so ambitious. Could they know the cost of the mere work of grading and subsoil cultivation, under-draining, manuring, laying the deep foundation for foot-paths, and securing that perfect growth of grass without which all park-like ornament is robbed of half its value, they would set their faces resolutely against all propositions on the part of public-spirited citizens to veneer their unprepared grounds with misplaced exterior adornment.

If money enough can be provided to do the work thoroughly well from its very foundation, then of course nothing more is needed than that its direction be placed in accomplished hands; but unless this is fully assured, if—as is nearly always the case,—economy is the first thing to be considered, then the rule of action is fully stated in two words, simplicity and thoroughness.

Avoid all fantastic ornament, and all decoration of every sort, that would be appropriate only to work of a more complete and substantial character. Let whatever is done be done in the most thorough way. If the ability is only enough to secure good grass, then do every thing that is necessary to furnish the best conditions for the growth of grass, make suitable provision for its care, and attempt nothing further. Good lawn-like grass surfaces, crossed only by foot-worn pathways over the turf, will be more beautiful and more satisfactory than will poor grass and cheaply made and ill-kept walks.

If something more than securing the best grass is possible, then let the next expenditure be in the direction of paths, applying to the construction of these the principles set forth in what has hitherto been said about sidewalks. In the case of level walks, with imperfect means of drainage, it is often desirable to secure the better foundation that is given by filling in to the depth of a foot or more with small stone.

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Whatever may be the natural character of the soil, unless always well drained by a porous subsoil, the first step toward establishing a good lawn is to secure perfect underdrainage. Establish a good outlet at the depth of three and a half or four feet below the surface at the lowest point of the area to be drained, and then, selecting the necessary lines for main drains, lay out parallel lines (thirty feet apart at a depth of three and a half feet, or forty feet apart at a depth of four feet) to include the whole area, and on these lines lay well-constructed drains of small open-jointed tiles. Cover these tiles with the most compact earth that has been excavated, and, after filling to a depth of one foot, tramp or ram this earth tightly. Then fill the rest of the trench, heaping over the lines any excess of material that may need the settling effect of heavy rains to work it into place.

The next step is to reverse or thoroughly mix the whole soil to a depth of at least fifteen inches. This work can be completely done only with the aid of hand-shovelling, but the aid of the plough will greatly facilitate it. Its purpose is to secure such an admixture of the organic matter of the surface soil with the more compact material of the subsoil as will make it sufficiently porous and fertile for the easy penetration of roots. It is best that this work should be done in autumn; and, if the land is level, that the freshly raised subsoil should be left exposed in its rough and lumpy condition—without harrowing—to the frosts of winter. If washing is to be apprehended, then sow the ground thickly with rye, harrowing in the seed only roughly. If the seed is sown early enough, the growth will be sufficient to protect the surface from washing. During the winter, let the whole surface be heavily covered with stable-manure,—the more heavily the better, as there is no limit to the amount of coarse manure that may with advantage be used for the establishment of permanent grass. In the spring, as soon as the ground is dry enough to work easily, plough in the manure with as shallow furrows as will suffice to cover the most of it; then harrow repeatedly, bringing the surface to as true a grade as possible, and sow it heavily with a mixture of Rhode Island bent grass, Kentucky blue grass, and white clover. As soon as the seed is well sprouted, showing green over the whole ground, roll the area repeatedly and thoroughly until it is as smooth and hard as it is possible to make it. As soon as the grass has attained the height of three inches, let it be cut with a lawn-mower, and let the cutting be repeated at least weekly throughout the season of rapid growth, and as often as necessary until the end of autumn.

If paths are to be made, it will simplify matters to make them after the grass has become well established, supposing only a good surface footway of ashes or concrete to be needed; for the small amount of excavation necessary under either of these systems may be scattered over the grass spaces without injury. But if the more thorough system is adopted of underlaying the walk with a foot or more of stones, then the work, except the final dressing of gravel or ashes, should be done in the autumn, or, in any case, before the final preparation of the soil for seeding.

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Concerning trees and ornamental shrubbery for parks and open spaces, it is not possible to give detailed directions here, beyond recommending, as in the case of roadside plantations, that, unless the work is to remain permanently in the charge of an experienced gardener, with the necessary appliances for the care and protection of the more delicate specimens, the arrangement and the selection should be confined to the more hardy and vigorous trees and shrubs which experience has shown to be adapted to the climate and soil of the locality.

For roadsides, and largely in parks and village greens, the world offers no tree that can compare in dignity and grace with the broad-spreading American elm; though, for the sake of variety, and for the sake of an earlier effect, many other trees may be added.


It is a recently recognized but an old and universal truth, that human life involves the production of refuse matters, which, unless proper safeguards are taken, are sure to become a source of disease and death. The danger is not confined alone nor chiefly to that element of household waste which is most manifestly offensive, but in almost equal degree to all manner of organic refuse. It is true that faecal matters are often accompanied by the inciting agent of the propagation of infectious diseases. For convenience, and as indicating the more probable means for disseminating infection, we may call this agent "germs." It has not yet been demonstrated with scientific completeness that a disease is spread by living germs whose growth in a new body produces a corresponding disorder; but all that is known of the circumstances of infection, and of the means for preventing it, may be fully explained by this theory. Typhoid fever, cholera, epidemic diarrh[oe]a, and some other prevalent diseases, are presumed by the germ theory to be chiefly, if not entirely, propagated by germs thrown off by a diseased body. So far as these ailments are concerned, there is therefore a very serious element of danger added in the case of faeces to the other evil effects which are produced by an improper disposal of any refuse organic matter. That any one or all of these diseases can originate from the decomposition, under certain circumstances of faecal matters, is not clearly determined. There is, however, good reason for believing that one common effect of the gases arising from improperly treated matters of this kind is to debilitate the human system, and so to create a disposition to receive contagion, or to succumb to minor diseases which are not contagious.

The same debilitating effect and the same injurious influences often result from the neglect of other organic wastes. The refuse of the kitchen sink is free from faecal matter; but it contains, in a greater or less degree, precisely the kind of organic material which has gone to make up the more offensive substance. If its final disposition is such as to contaminate the water that we drink or the air that we breathe with the products of their decay, the danger to life is hardly less than that from the decomposition of faecal accumulations.

It is proposed now to set forth, in the simplest way and without much discussion of principles (which may be studied elsewhere), the methods and processes by which village households and communities may be protected against the influences that come from an excess of soil-moisture, from damp walls, and from imperfect removal or improper disposal of organic filth.

We will assume that a village has a water supply sufficient to admit of the use of water-closets in all houses, and to furnish a good flushing for kitchen sinks, &c. A necessary complement of this work—indeed, it should properly precede it—is the establishment of a system of sewers by which all of this liquid outflow may be carried safely away. It would be out of the question in a small or scattered community, especially where roadways are unpaved, to establish any system which should include in its working the removal of surface water. The moment we undertake to make sewers of sufficient capacity to carry away the storm water of large districts, then we enormously increase the scale and cost of the work.

So far as the removal of house sewage alone is concerned, the work need by no means be very costly. If a tolerable inclination can be given to the line of sewers,—say a fall of one in two hundred,—a six-inch pipe will have a capacity quite up to the requirements of a village of two thousand inhabitants using one hundred gallons of water per day per head. It will, however, be safe to use a pipe of this size only when it is true in form and carefully laid, so that there shall be no retarding of the flow at the joints from the intrusion of mortar, or any other form of irregularity. Unless the joints are wiped quite smooth, the roughness remaining will serve as a nucleus for the accumulation of hair, shreds of cloth, and other matters which will hold silt and grease, and form in time a serious obstruction. Nothing smaller than six-inch pipe should be adopted for a street sewer. Unless the work is to be most carefully done, for all but the branch lines, for a population of five thousand, or less according to the fall of the sewer, it will be safer to use eight-inch pipes. These pipes must be laid with great accuracy as to grade and direction. All corners should be turned with curves of large radius and regular sweep, and with an additional fall to compensate for the increased resistance of curves. The weight of the pipe should not be supported upon the sockets (see Figure 3), partly as a question of strength, and partly because any irregularity of form or thickness of the socket would change the inclination of the sewer. The bottom of the trench being brought exactly to the required grade, let there be dug out a depression greater than the projection of the socket, the pipe resting upon its finished bottom for its whole length. (See Figure 4.) Too much care cannot be given to the thorough filling with cement of the space between the socket and the pipe inserted into it; the whole circle being well flushed and wiped, so that there may be no possibility of leakage.

The objection to leakage is twofold: sewage matters escaping into the soil might contaminate wells and springs; and it would also rob the flow through the pipes of water needed to carry forward the more solid contents. The continued efficiency of these small drains for carrying away the solid or semi-solid outflow of the house is dependent very largely upon the presence of sufficient water to create a scouring current. While eight-inch pipes are admissible as a safeguard against imperfect laying, they are liable to the grave objection, that, where the service to be performed is greatly less than their capacity, the stream flowing through them will not be sufficiently concentrated to carry forward the more solid parts of the sewage. Up to the limit of their capacity, six-inch pipes properly laid are greatly to be preferred, as insuring a deeper stream which will more generally attain the velocity of three feet per second, needed to move the heavier constituents of the sewage. The difference in cost between six-inch and eight-inch pipes will be sufficient to cover any extra cost of the most careful workmanship. However much attention may be given to the cementing of the joints, it will be impossible to prevent the running into the pipes of a certain amount of mortar; and the workman should have a swab or a disk of India rubber of the exact size of the bore of the pipe, with a short handle attached to its middle, to draw forward as each joint is finished, and so scrape away any excess of mortar before it hardens.

Wherever it is, or may probably become, necessary to attach a house-drain or land-drain, there should be used a length of pipe having a side branch, oblique to the direction of the flow, to receive such connection. The location of these branches should be accurately indicated on the plan; and they should be closed with a flat stone or a bit of slate, well cemented in place.

It will at times be necessary to use larger conduits than even an eight-inch pipe. Up to a diameter of fifteen inches, it is cheapest to use pipes, but for eighteen inches or more, brick-work is cheaper; and at that size—a considerable regular flow of water being insured—the slight roughness of brick-work offers no serious objection. The use of oval or egg-shaped sewers will rarely be necessary under the circumstances that we are considering; but there may be exceptional conditions where the covering-in of a brook, or storm-water course, cannot be avoided; and in such cases the volume of water may vary so greatly that there will at times be a mere thread of a stream, and at times a torrent. Here the oval form is the best, as concentrating a small flow within a narrow and deep channel, and still giving the capacity needed for exceptionally large volumes. All bricks used for sewers, man-holes, &c., should be of the very hardest quality, and true in form. The general rule is to be kept in mind, that the thickness of the wall of a brick sewer should not be less than one-ninth of the inner diameter; that is to say, that up to a diameter of three feet the thickness of the wall should equal the width of a brick,—four inches. This applies to circular sewers only: the oval form, being less strong, calls for a wall of a thickness equal to one-eighth of the largest diameter.

Connecting drains leading from houses to the sewer are to be made at private cost; but they should be made in accordance with plans furnished by the public authority, and by a workman acceptable to that authority.

The householder might be permitted to take the responsibility of the finishing of his drain, but for the fact that the working of the public sewer calls for the largest amount of water in proportion to the amount of solid matters that it is possible to secure, and thus makes it imperative that this drain should be absolutely tight, so that the liquid parts of the house outflow shall not trickle away through its joints, leaving only the more solid parts to flow into the public sewer.

Properly graded and smoothly jointed, a four-inch pipe will carry more water than even the largest boarding-house or country hotel is likely to discharge. There is, however, a tendency in all house-drains to become filled in the early part of their course by the accumulation of grease and solid matters caught in the grease. Where no form of grease-trap is used, there is a certain argument in favor of the use of six-inch pipes for the upper part of house-drains. The use of a grease-trap, however, should always be insisted upon; and with its aid these obstructing matters will be retained, and the outflow may be perfectly carried by a four-inch pipe.

So far as the public sewer is concerned, it makes little difference what is the size of the house connection drain through the greater part of its course; but the junction with the sewer should, under no circumstances, where six-inch sewer-pipes are adopted, be more than four inches. I should even insist on four-inch connections with an eight-inch sewer. Through neglect, or by reason of improper management, many kinds of rubbish find their way into house-drains; and a four-inch opening will admit as many of these into the sewer as it will be able to carry away. If, by reason of bad construction or neglect, an obstruction is to be caused at any point, it should be in the drain, which the person responsible for it must cleanse or repair.

The grease-trap referred to above may be any form of reservoir which will retain the flow from the kitchen sink until it has time to cool, when its grease will be solidified, and will float at the surface. The outlet from this trap should be at such a distance below the surface of the water, that there will be no danger of its floating matter passing in with the discharge. A very simple device for this purpose is shown in Figure 5. From a trap of this sort the flow is constant whenever additions are made to its contents.

Figure 6 shows the invention of an English engineer, Mr. Rogers Field, which has the effect of retaining all of the outflow from the kitchen sink until it is entirely filled,—say thirty gallons. When filled, any sudden addition of a few quarts of water, as from the emptying of a dish-pan, brings into action a siphon whose entrance is near the bottom of the tank; and this siphon rapidly discharges all of the contents above its mouth in a flow having sufficient force to carry forward not only any solid matters which it may contain, but also any ordinary obstructing accumulations in the drain below. The soil-pipe, carrying the discharge of water-closets, should not be delivered into the flush-tank, but at a point farther down the drain, so that any solid matter it may deposit shall be swept forward by the next action of the flush-tank. The more often the flush-tank is filled, and the greater the proportion of its water to its impurities, the more efficient will be its action. Therefore the slop closet waste leading from the upper story, and even the outlet pipes of bathing-tubs, may with advantage be delivered into it.

Although the flush-tank may receive no faecal matter, and even though the housemaid's sink may not deliver into it, it will contain in the discharge from the kitchen alone an amount of organic matter which will produce offensive and dangerous gases by its decomposition. To provide for the safe removal of these gases, a ventilating pipe should be carried up to some point not near to any window or chimney-top.

From the time the sewers are ready for service no accumulation of faecal matter or other organic household waste should be allowed to remain in the village. All old vaults and cesspools should be filled with earth, and disinfected by the admixture of lime with the upper layers of the filling. The use of water-closets in all houses should be made imperative; and the construction and arrangement of soil-pipes and of all outlets should be regulated by the health authorities.

It is not worth while here to discuss the details of the construction of water-closets and other interior plumbing work, except with reference to soil-pipes and such drains as may deliver the outflow of soil-pipes to the public sewer. The soil-pipe should be of cast iron, carefully jointed with lead, not less than four inches in diameter, and carried by the straightest course possible up through the roof and generally higher than the ridge-pole. Its open top must not be near any window, and if within ten feet of a chimney it should be at least one foot below the level of the top of that chimney. There should be no trap in the soil-pipe, and no trap in a private drain between the outlet of the soil-pipe and the sewer. The reasons for this rule are twofold:—

1. No matter what amount of water may be used for flushing out the soil-pipe, its sides will always be more or less coated with organic filth; and, however slight this coating, there will be a certain amount of decomposition. The decomposition of all such matters must be rapid and complete, not slow and partial. A necessary condition of complete destructive decomposition is an abundance of atmospheric air to supply the oxygen which complete decomposition demands. If the soil-pipe is closed at its top, or if it is obstructed by a trap in the lower part of its course, there can be no such circulation of air as safety requires.

If there is an opportunity for the free admission of air from the well-ventilated sewer to feed the upward current almost constantly prevailing in a soil-pipe open at both ends, the gases resulting from the decomposition will be of a different and less injurious character than where the air is confined,—and by the mere volume of air passing through the pipe they will be so diluted that even were they originally poisonous their power for harm will be lessened.

The gases formed by the decomposition of organic matter in the sewer itself, or in the soil-pipe, have a certain expansive force which is greatly increased by the elevation of temperature, caused, for example, by the discharge of hot water into the pipe or sewer. If the soil-pipe is open at its upper end this expansion will be at once relieved; but if the top of the pipe be closed there will always be danger of the forcing of the feeble barrier offered by the ordinary water-seal trap of a branch pipe leading from a wash-basin or sink. Then, too, the sealing-water of the trap readily absorbs any foul gases presented at its outer end, toward the soil-pipe, and gives it off in an unchanged condition at the inner or house end. Such traps retard, but do not prevent, the entrance of sewer gases into the house. Water-seal traps which are unused for any considerable time are emptied by evaporation, and thus open a channel through which the air of the soil-pipe may find its way into the house.

It is usual in modern plumbing to relieve the pressure of gas in the soil-pipe by what is called a "stench-pipe." This is a pipe from one to two inches in diameter, leading from the highest point of the soil-pipe to the outside of the roof, where it is bent over to prevent the entrance of foreign matter, or is closed at the top and perforated with holes to allow the gas to escape. This small stench-pipe is inadequate for the necessary work. It is very important that there be the freest possible channel for the movement of air; and nothing will suffice for this save the continuing of the pipe, at its full size, to its very outlet. Indeed, angles and bends in a pipe by increasing friction form a serious obstruction.

The arrangement of the soil-pipe here indicated, although excellent and efficient, is susceptible of further improvement by the use of a ventilating cowl or hood at its top. There are many forms of such cowls in use which are effective whenever there is a sufficient current of wind; but most of them require a certain force to bring them into action, and when this force is absent they usually retard the flow they are intended to increase. This is true of a recent invention known as "Banner's ventilating cowl," which so long as the wind blows is a most effective device. When the air is perfectly still, however, it offers by its curved air-way a certain resistance to the current, and in the case of baffling winds and flaws the air may blow directly into its opening.

Among the various inventions of this sort nothing seems so free from objection as the old arrangement known as the "Emerson" ventilator, shown in Figure 7. This gives a straight outlet, protected by a disk far enough above it not to prevent its delivery of air; and it becomes an effective suction cowl, with the least movement of the wind from any side or from above or below. No eddy caused by the angles of gable roofs can give it a backward draught; and if a pipe armed with it be held toward the strongest gale a puff of smoke blown into its other end will be instantly drawn through. As the patent for this invention has run out, it is competent for any tinsmith to make it, and it is a common article of manufacture.

2. What is said above concerning the ventilation of the soil-pipe from end to end relates to the interest of the private owner. The interest of the public gives an equally strong argument in its favor. The sewer should be as far as possible removed from the condition of an "elongated cesspool." There must be no halting of its contents, and no deposit of filth or silt at any point. Within the shortest time possible, every thing received into the sewer must be passed on and delivered at its outlet. Still, however perfectly this may be accomplished, there will always be a certain adhesion of slime to the walls of the sewer; and this slime must always be in a state of decomposition, a constant source of offence and possible danger. The only way to avert this danger is to give the sewer such a thorough ventilation that the decomposition shall be rapid and safe, and that the resultant gases shall be at once diluted with fresh air.

This may be measurably accomplished by the simple ventilation of the sewer itself, through open-topped man-holes; but such ventilation is less effective in the case of small sewers than of large ones. In the case of either large or small sewers, it will be vastly increased if we compel every householder who makes a connection with the sewer, to carry a drain and soil pipe, nowhere less than four inches in diameter, from the point of junction with the main line to the open air above the roof. Where houses are near enough to make the use of a public sewer advisable, the aggregate of these soil-pipes, having almost constantly an upward current, will make such a draught upon the sewer, to be supplied by a downward current through the man-hole covers, as will maintain a perfect and continuous ventilation.

* * * * *

Important as it is to secure the proper arrangement and construction of sewers and house-drains, it is still more important to provide for the safe disposition of the sewage.

We must begin at the outset with the understanding that all sewage matters not only are of no value to the community, but that it will cost money to get rid of them.

There is hardly an instance, after all the efforts that have been made, of the profitable disposal of the outflow of public sewers. The theoretical value of the wastes of human life is very great, but the cost of any method for utilizing them seems at least equally great. The question of cost is so much more important (to the community) than the question of agricultural value, that the practical thing to do is to make such disposition as will cost the least, while fully meeting the best sanitary requirements.

So far as village sewage is concerned, there are three means open for its disposal: to discharge it into running water or into deep tide-water, to use it for the surface irrigation of land, or to distribute it through sub-irrigation pipes placed at little distance below the surface of the soil. Experiments are being made with more or less promise of success in the direction of the chemical treatment of this liquid so as to purify its effluent water, and retain in a solid form, and in combination with certain valuable added ingredients, all of its undissolved impurities. None of these processes can as yet claim consideration in regulating public works.

The cheapest way to get rid of sewage is to discharge it into a running stream or into tide-water. So far as the community itself is concerned, this is often the best way; but there will very often arise the objection that the community has no moral or legal right to foul a stream of which others make use in its further course. Where the amount of water constantly flowing is very large, and where the discharge is rapid,—any given part of the sewage reaching the open air within a few hours from the time of its entering the pipes,—and where it flows in moving water for a considerable distance before reaching others who may have occasion to use the stream, no practical danger is to be apprehended. But where the sewage is more foul, more sluggish, or exposed in the open current for a shorter time, the danger may be serious. The pouring of sewage into tide-water is always admissible where floats show that there is no danger of a return and deposit of solid filth; but the delivery at all stages of the tide, in the immediate neighborhood of salt marshes and mud flats, and in land-locked harbors, is to be avoided.

Where an unobjectionable natural outflow cannot be provided, the irrigation of agricultural lands affords the best relief. The action of vegetation, the oxidation which takes in the upper and well-aerated layers of soil, and the well-known but not yet fully explained disinfecting qualities of common earth, are effective in removing the dangerous and offensive impurities, and in converting them into a more or less important source of fertility. Precisely how far this system may be available during winter, it is not easy to say. While the earth is locked with frost, there must be very little, if any, infiltration; but, as an offset, the action of a low temperature upon the sewage matters will clearly be antiseptic; and it is only necessary to provide against an undue washing away of the surface of the ground during thaws, and against the flowing of the sewage beyond the proper limits.

Generally in the neighborhood of villages it will be easy to find lands over which the delivery may be carried on throughout the year without objection. The sewer, or some form of covered channel, should lead far enough from any public road to avoid offence. From this point it may be led by open gutters to the land over which it is to be spread,—or rather through such a system of surface gutters as will enable us to deliver it at different parts of the field, according to the requirements of the crops, and so as to use fresh land at frequent intervals, leaving that which has been saturated to the purifying processes of vegetation and atmospheric action.

The gutters having been made, it is easy, by the use of portable dams,—of thin boiler-iron, like broad shovels,—which may be set in the course of the flow, to divert the current into any branch channel, or to stop it at any desired part of this channel. All the gutters having sufficient descent to lead the sewage rapidly forward, it is usual to set a dam near the far end of the gutter, and allow the sewage to overflow and run down over the surface until it has reached as far as the formation of the ground and the quantity of the liquid will allow it to spread. This portion having received its due amount of the liquid, the dam is moved to a higher point, and the overflow is allowed to spread over a second area. In this way, step by step, we irrigate all that may be reached by a single gutter. Then the moving of the dam in the main line turns the water into another gutter, and this is proceeded with in like manner. In practice it is found best to begin the overflow at the farthest end of the lowest-lying gutter, working back step by step until the higher parts of the field are reached. It would be better that there should be land enough to require the irrigation of any given area not oftener than once in one or two weeks. The amount required for a given population cannot be determined by any fixed rule,—so much depending on the amount of water used per capita, and on the absorptive character of the irrigated soil. In the case of villages, one acre to each five hundred of the population would generally be found ample.

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