Carrollton’s New Electric Lights

August, 1897, from the Milton News

 “Our neighboring town of Carrollton is putting on real city airs.  She is not satisfied with her recently erected water works, but is going to have electric lights, city mail carriers, houses numbered, and many other things which will give her the appearance of a sure enough city.  Let the good work go on.  Carrollton is one of the prettiest little cities on the Ohio River, and has more hustling, pushing men to the square inch than any other town twice her size.  The doings of the council of C-ton wouldn’t be a bad example for out council to follow.”  It is believed the Jetts will make an outlay of about $10,000 on this account.  What their profits will be, if any, remains to be seen.  They show fine enterprise and good nerve in their undertaking.  The present plant, which lights only a few houses and none of the streets, being but a travesty on modern electric lighting, will be super ceded entirely.”

All following from the Carrollton Democrat

 October, 1897

 Last Monday night, the council accepted the proposition of the enterprising firm of J. S. and J. f. Jett to put in an electric light plant.  In brief, the proposition is this:

 The Jetts will put the plant in at their own expense, to be operated in connection with the water works, by the city.  The Jetts will have nothing to do with running it.  The Jetts will put in all the necessary poles to distribute the electricity, including 26 arc lamps for lighting the streets.  It is believed the council will secure this better lighting at very little expense above what it now pays for the coal-oil lights, which are poor.

 Facilities are to be provided for all commercial and residential lights necessary.  There is no doubt on this score, as the Jetts derive all their compensation from this source.  They are to charge people for this service.  This arrangement continues for fifteen years, city keeping up repairs, when the plant becomes the property of the city.

November 11, 1897

 The arc lights for street lighting have been located.
One on top of the grade on the levee above the wharf boat.
On Main Street at 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th.
On High at 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th, and 10th.
Sycamore at 3rd, 4th and 7th.
Seminary at 2nd, 4th and 6th.
Clay at 3rd, 5th and 7th.
Polk at 4th, 6th and 8th.
Taylor at 5th and 7th.
Hawkins at 6th.
Winslow at 6th.

 The main wire will run south from Main on the alley between 5th and 6thas far as Polk Street, in order to save the shade trees on 6th.  It would be necessary to cut them down on one side of the street, even though it costs more to use the alley route.

December 25, 1897

 J. F. Jett received 280 poles for the electric lights and will begin work this week putting them up.  Carrollton people ought to realize what an excellent electric light plant they are to have.  After closest figuring and, after all the competition that the Jett Brothers could get, the cost to them will be $10,000.  Their contract with the city is the furnish arc lights of 2,000 candlepower each, or 600 more than the Vevay lights have.

 They are to supply boiler capacity and engine power to operate the system and the water works with ease and efficiency.  The engine is 125 horsepower.  The wires will be much larger than those at Vevay and you will be surprised to know that 9,000 pounds of it will be strung up over our streets; the cost of the wire alone is $3,500.  The system used is what is known as the “direct current.”   The whole equipment will be first class in every respect.

 There is no better plant anywhere in this part of the country.  As to size, we will say it will be a third larger than that at Vevay.  If the weather be favorable, the lights may be turned on in six weeks.  Otherwise, it may be spring before completion of the work. 

James F. Jett received the poles Saturday morning for the electric light wires, 280 in number, and will begin the work this week in putting them up.

February 12, 1898

 The new boiler, grating, etc. for Carrollton’s electric light plant are at Worthville.  Their weight is simply awful – about 30,000 pounds, the boiler alone weighing 16,000.  How to get the boiler here is the question.  No wagon in the county will stand up to it.  It is hoped that a wagon can be gotten in Vevay; if not, it will be necessary to bring one from the city.  The next question is, will the bridges on the road support the great weight.  It is feared by certain ones that some of the bridges will break down – the large one at White’s Run especially.  This, however, is known to have supported three heavy wagon loads of prized tobacco at one time.  The horses will not be permitted to cross at the same time as the wagon, thus lessening the burden some.  The boiler was made in Chattanooga, and there is none finer anywhere.  The great weight was brought from that city to Worthville at 27 cents per hundred.  It will probably cost nearly as much to bring it from Worthville to Carrollton.

June 1897

 Jett Bros. Have decided to put in a 300 light electric plant, and it will not be long until we turn’em on.  They will use about 60 lamps in lighting their own establishments; the balance will sell to public, at 60 cents each per month.  About 150 have already been taken, by people along Main Street.  The Lambert electric system will probably be used.  James f. Jett was out on a tour since out last inspecting plants, and returned with his mind made up.  So in go the lights.  Business is business and progress is progress.

March 3, 1898

 The setting of the big boiler in the pumping station was completed Monday by Mr. Myers and will be finished early next week.  It is probable that Carrollton’s big electric light will be throwing light in three weeks.

April 22, 1898

 Lights were not turned on until 19 minutes to 5 o’clock on the 19th of April owing to some delay about getting some of the steam piping.  Dr. Holmes touched the button.  Thus did C-ton celebrate.  The lights are the best we ever saw anywhere.  The lights are simply magnificent and as steady as a planet.  The indoor lights are quite as satisfactory.  Those who have them would not part with them for many times the cost.  Council has directed J. S. Johnson of the powerhouse to hire and assistant at $35.00 per month

September 18, 1898

 The Courthouse is a beautiful sight when lighted up by electricity.  The courtroom is as nice an audience room s there is in town.  The offices are all lighted too.  Thanks to Judge Orr for this grand improvement.  However, the officers pay for lighting their own offices.  Now let the clock face be illuminated.


Originally reprinted by the Carrollton and Carroll County Tourism & Convention Commission, and based on work by Lynda Young and Sarah Catharine Salyers. 

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