Pamplin Media Group – CENTRAL OREGON HISTORY
Prineville Light and Water Company organized and the first power station was built in Prineville
On March 7, 1899, the Prineville Light and Water Company organized and the first power station was built in Prineville. The Yancey brothers were hired to transport the power plant from the Dalles, and it took seven round trips to bring the plant to Prineville. The factory was completed in May 1900 and power was provided by wood-fired boilers which produced steam to generate electricity. Electricity delivery began in December 1900.
The pioneering system was powered by a 50 horsepower boiler connected to an 18,000 watt dynamo. Prineville was the first town in central Oregon to have electric street lights. Bend and Redmond used coal lamps until 1910.
Electrical service was provided at a flat rate of five cents per month per candle for lights used until 10 p.m. and six cents if burned until midnight.
The service was irregular and the stops frequent and often prolonged. Electric and water company workers knew that when the lights started to dim and then went out, they had to go to the power plant to help the lone operator make repairs. The old power plant was located just north of Third Street
The company contracted to have firewood cut and stacked near the power plant and the 4ft long firewood was stacked on nearly an acre of land surrounding the plant. In 1901 a small rail system was built to transport the wood to the boiler and the rails were fitted with a turntable and a track.
In 1908, the Prineville Light and Water Power Company expanded its plant in anticipation of obtaining alternating current produced by the hydroelectric plants on the Deschutes and Crooked rivers. The company was acquired by the Deschutes Power Company in 1913 and new lines were completed to Prineville. The small factory established in 1900 was the precursor to a revolutionary new power system that changed the frontier of central Oregon.
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