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As It Was-Weaverville Gets Water-Powered Electricity in 1893

Electric power is taken for granted today, but in the late 19th century it was experimental at best.

In Weaverville, Calif., Dr. S.L. Blake urged the town’s leading citizens to act, but they failed to see that an electrical project was viable.  A year later the doctor made another stab at creating interest and a project got underway, resulting in the incorporation on July 29, 1893, of the Weaverville Electric Company.

The company sought guidance from the General Electric Company in San Francisco on how to obtain a power plant and equipment.  Soon a water-powered plant opened in Gambler’s Gulch.  Water moved by ditch to the summit of Ten Cent Ridge, where it emptied into a reservoir.  A nine-inch pipeline carried the water to the power plant, and power lines carried the electricity into the town.

On September 18, 1893, the first light was successfully switched on, the current extending to the Main Street residence of John McMurry and onward to the foot of Mill Street.  Paid subscriptions made it possible to bring light to more streets in Weaverville.


Source: Hanover, Rita. "Electric Lights in Weaverville." Trinity, 1961, p. 28.

Gail Fiorini-Jenner is a writer and teacher. Her first novel "Across the Sweet Grass Hills", won the 2002 WILLA Literary Award. She co-authored four histories with Arcadia Publishing: Western Siskiyou County: Gold & Dreams, Images of the State of Jefferson, The State of Jefferson: Then & Now, which placed in the 2008 Next Generation Awards for Nonfiction and Postcards from the State of Jefferson.