An Early History of Cache County…

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Compiled by M. R. Hovey, Secretary, Logan Chamber of Commerce. January 1, 1923 to January 1, 1925. Also as printed in the Logan Journal, beginning August 4, 1923.

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First Electric Light Plant and Municipal Ownership in Logan

After the canal known as the millrace was completed and the water power sites were a success and helped to create new industries, additional power sites on the streams were sought. Mr. Christian Garff and Gustave Lundberg saw the possibility of a power site south across the street from the present Interurban passenger station. They therefore enlarged the canal at this point and make application for use of a portion of the water. They were not successful in securing such right and had to pay for the water. They erected a planing mill at this place.

In order to get the full benefit of the water power, they decided to install a small electric light plant to operate at night when the water power was not in use, to use the run the planing mill. The dynamo was a direct current arc machine and produced incandescent lights. This was the first incandescent light plant in Utah and the first electric light plant in the Valley. Mr. Ellerbeck of the gas plant in Salt Lake City became interested in the project and came to Logan to see how the plant would operate and results produced.

To be able to get electric current for lights was quite an advantage and far superior to the kerosene lamps, especially for street lighting. Logan City at once contracted for five arc lights at the rate of $15.00 for each light for each month. These lights were placed at the intersections along Main Street and for one block down Center Street. Lights were also furnished for a few of the business houses and some residences. John Squires, one of the first barbers in Logan, was the first business house to have the electric lights installed. The lights were also installed in the residences of Moses Thatcher and Christian Garff. The lights were sold on a flat rate of $1.25 per light for each month, and were sixteen-candle power. The cleanliness, safety and other advantages of the electric light over the kerosene lamps were soon apparent and it was not long until most of the business houses and many of the residences had them installed.

In 1882 when Robert S. Campbell became Mayor of Logan City he and the City Council decided that the city should own its own electric light plant. Mr. Campbell induced the Council to purchase the electric light equipment including the pole line from Garff and Lundberg, at a cost of $6,000.00. The plant was moved to the Card Mill on the canal, south of Third West Street. Here the city produced its arc lights for $4.00 per light per month, a saving of $11.00 per light for each month. This was one of the first cases in the Valley of municipal ownership, and the plant paid for itself many times over.

The Thatcher Milling Company installed a similar light plant in connection with their gristmill and furnished lights for their mill, business houses, the opera house and a number of residences.

Later, Mr. Edward Holden and Edward Hanson located a water power site at the mouth of Logan Canyon where the present plant of the Utah Power and Light Company is. They built a small electric light plant and put in a distributing system. As they were not able to finance it, they sold it out to the Telluride Power Company. This company enlarged the plant and power site and installed the wire system. They furnished three lights for $1.00 per month, flat rate, and to the city they furnished arc lights for $3.00 per light for each month. The city then closed down its own plant as it could purchase lights cheaper from the Telluride Company. This action was the deathblow to the city plant and it was lost and sold for junk.

Compared with the electric lights of today, the lights then were poor indeed. The iron wire system with no insulation was used and much of the current was lost.