Appleton, Wisconsin Parks and Places - Vulcan Street Plant

Address: 807 S. Oneida Street, Appleton, Wisconsin..
Dedicated: September 30, 1882.
History: The world's first hydroelectric central station started producing electricity in Appleton on September 30, 1882. The Appleton Edison Electric Co. was started by paper manufacturer Henry J. Rogers, who had been so impressed with Edison's experiments with lighting that he obtained a contract for an Edison central station before he had ever seen a light bulb. The tiny facility known as the Vulcan Street Plant harnessed the power of falling water in the Fox River. Originally this plant was located at 600 Vulcan Street. (A replica stands at the Oneida Street. address.)

The Edison Type "K" dynamo generator was driven by a system of gears and belts by a water wheel operating under a ten foot fall of water. It had a capacity of 12.5 kilowatts, enough to light 250 bulbs of 50 watts each, but at night it lighted only Rogers' house, (Hearthstone) making it the first residential dwelling in the world to get electric service from a central station.

In 1886 a new plant was built, and shortly after that the Appleton Electric Street Railway Co. was incorporated. Giving Appleton the first electric trolley mass transit system in the world. The railway cars were driven by Van Depoele direct current motors which received power from a hydroelectric generator via two trolley wires.

The electric power company declared bankruptcy in 1896, the street car system did better, expanding into Neenah, Menasha and Kaukauna and eventually being closed down in 1930.

Vulcan St. Plant () Vulcan St. Plant ()
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Vulcan St. Plant () Vulcan St. Plant ()
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Modified: XXI-DEC-MMI