Who were those electricians and plumbers, PCHA asksThere’s a song whose lyrics run to the following phrase: “You light up my life.”
There’s a song whose lyrics run to the following phrase: “You light up my life.”
Everyone’s life. There was electricity in homes in Ellsworth and River Falls—produced by a power plant on the Rush River (near the rod and gun club) and a dam/power source on the Kinnickkinnic River. But those two did not offer a source of power to rural farms and homes.
A few farms in the 1930’s had “wind jammers,” which were small in size, but in principle were like the wind power towers dotting the landscape today, such as the one on the hill to the south of Hwy. 63, just west of Ellsworth, which is small in size but apparently works. Basically, these early towers charged batteries, used to operate lights and maybe the early crystal radio sets.
In the mid to late 1930’s, the REA, aka Rural Electrification Act, was passed by Congress, thereby creating a network of wiring to homes across most of the rural regions of America—providing simple, one light bulb in the middle of the ceilings of most rooms in the farm homes.
There were exhibits at places around the county, generally on farms, and they set up demonstrations of the various uses for electricity, from pumping water to cooking meals to operating a washing machine, sewing machine or the milking machines, let alone those lovely old radios.
But, who were the electricians?
And then, along came indoor plumbing, too. In town, city water lines were put in—the backyard outhouse was replaced by “indoor plumbing”—running water—city wells were established and in general water mains were placed with lines to each home.
Out on the farms—cisterns collected rain water—and one has been found back of the Lawrence house in Ellsworth—which supplied great soft water for washing clothes. Wells supplied drinking water for the house and the barn. Hot water was heated on the stove, but then hot water heaters that were electrically powered made the women think they lived in the lap of luxury.
But, who did the plumbing? Who were the professional plumbers?
In the rural areas, probably the owner of the property did the work himself. Old galvanized or iron pipe led mainly to the kitchen sink and bathroom. If they were lucky, to the bath tub and to a flushing toilet.
But, again, who were the electricians who hired out and set up a business solely dedicated to wiring? And, who were those plumbers?
If you have photos or anything pertinent like documentation, such as ads from newspapers and such, please send to the Pierce County Historical Association (PCHA).
Address is: PCHA, P. O. Box 148, Ellsworth, WI 54011.