Monday, September 30, 2013

Vulcan Street Plant became first hydroelectric central station on Sept. 30, 1882

The world's first hydroelectric central station was placed in operation on Sept. 30, 1882 in Appleton, Wis. About the same size as a shed, the plant featured an Edison "K" type dynamo that produced about 12.5 kilowatts of electricity from a water-powered turbine to light three buildings -- two paper mills and the home of industrialist H.J. Rogers.

Opening of replica plant in 1932.
Built by the Appleton Edison Electric Light Company, the Vulcan Street Plant was the first Edison hydroelectric central station to serve a system of private and commercial customers and the beginning of electric generation in our service area. 

The Edison crew in Appleton was under orders to delay the plant's opening until its parent company's Pearl Street Station made its debut as the nation's first central power plant on Sept. 4, 1882

The Vulcan Street Plant burned to the ground in 1891, but a replica was built on South Oneida Street in 1932 and moved in 1987 to its current location on the banks of the Fox River on South Vulcan Street, near its original location and the Lawe Street Bridge. The site is a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark and part of the Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Parkway.

Roger's home, which is now the Hearthstone Historic House Museum, 625 W. Prospect Ave., is one of the few surviving examples of wiring and lighting fixtures from the dawn of the electrical age.

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