Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites

In association with the Smithsonian Institution



National Historic Landmark


The 1762 Waterworks, recognized as a National Historic Landmark, Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, and an American Water Landmark, was the first pumped municipal water system in America.


This building housed the mechanical system for pumping water from a nearby spring, which flowed at the rate of 1,200,000 gallons of water a day. Using only the water power of the Monocacy Creek, an 18-foot diameter undershot waterwheel turned a mechanism which pumped water from the spring up 94 vertical feet to a tower (where Central Moravian Church now stands) and, by gravity, fed five cisterns in the living areas of the town.

The Waterworks was actively used as a pumping station until the 1830s. The spring itself was used as the main water source for the City of Bethlehem until the early 20th century.

The building had various uses over the years including as a residence and a garage; however, the stone structure itself, wheel pit, and pump area remained intact. The building, the waterwheel, and the pumping mechanism were restored in 1972 using the original 18th century master craftsmen’s drawings in the collection of the Moravian Archives.

Through a Save America’s Treasures Grant, the 18-feet diameter waterwheel was repaired in 2009 after damage from Hurricane Ivan.



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Historic Bethlehem Partnership, Inc. is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Registration and financial information about Historic Bethlehem Partnership, Inc. may be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of State by calling toll-free, within Pennsylvania, 1-800-732-0999, or on the web at www.dos.state.pa.us. Registration does not imply endorsement.