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Edison agents turn on first central incandescent lighting plant west of the Rockies in Seattle on March 22, 1886.
On March 22, 1886, representatives of Thomas Edison demonstrate the first electrical generator in Seattle. The Seattle Electric Company's steam-powered dynamo, located in Pioneer Square, is the first central incandescent lighting plant west of the Rocky Mountains.
File 5405: Full Text >
Seattle voters approve electric utility bonds on March 4, 1902, leading to creation of Seattle City Light.
On March 4, 1902, three-fifths of Seattle voters approve $500,000 in bonds to fund construction of a municipal hydroelectric dam and plant at Cedar Lake. The project is entrusted to the Seattle Water Department and a young engineer named James D. Ross (1872-1939). The Seattle Lighting Department, or City Light, was created in 1910 and Ross became superintendent (following a brief tenure by Richard Arms) in 1911.
File 2317: Full Text >
Cedar Falls hydroelectric plant begins lighting Seattle streets on January 10, 1905.
On January 10, 1905, the Cedar Falls hydroelectric plant begins lighting Seattle street lamps for the first time. The plant had begun operation in October 1904. The City of Seattle owns the power plant, which is the first municipally owned plant in the United States.
File 2284: Full Text >
Seattle City Light starts serving private customers on September 9, 1905.
On September 9, 1905, Seattle City Light starts supplying individual customers with electricity. The first residential customer is The Reverend J. M. Wilson, pastor of the Westminster Presbyterian Church, who had applied for service in January.
File 729: Full Text >
Seattle City Light installs an ornamental street lighting system in 1909.
In 1909, Seattle City Light installs an ornamental street lighting system in preparation for the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition. This improvement coincides with the extensive regrading of huge tracts of land in the commercial downtown and surrounding neighborhoods. The promise of thousands of visitors places the city's image in the forefront of city planning and budget decisions.
File 1724: Full Text >
Seattle City Light becomes an independent department on April 1, 1910.
On April 1, 1910, the Seattle City Council approves the creation of an independent Department of Lighting, later known as City Light. The new department is separated from the former Department of Light and Water, which had built the city's first hydroelectric dam at Cedar Falls in 1905, and it is made a full member of the Board of Public Works. James D. Ross (1872-1939) takes charge of the new department in 1911 and serves as its superintendent until 1934.
File 2316: Full Text >
Hydroelectric power from Skagit River reaches Seattle on September 14, 1924.
On September 14, 1924, hydroelectric power from
Seattle City Light's Gorge Powerhouse on the Skagit River in southeast Whatcom County reaches Seattle. Three days later, on September 17, President Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933) presses a gold telegraph key in Washington, D.C., which begins formal operation of a generator that produces 30,000 kilowatts of electricity.
File 2528: Full Text >
Seattle City Light dedicates Diablo Dam, at the time world's highest, on August 27, 1930.
On August 27, 1930, Seattle City Light dedicates Diablo Dam. Diablo Dam, at 389 feet the world's highest dam at the time, is located in southeast Whatcom County along the Skagit River.
File 5535: Full Text >
Seattle Mayor Frank Edwards fires City Light Superintendent James D. Ross on March 9, 1931.
On March 9, 1931, Mayor Frank E. Edwards fires Seattle City Light Superintendent James D. "J.D." Ross (1872-1939) for "inefficiency, disloyalty and willful neglect of duty" (Sparks). The announcement comes on the eve of City Council elections and a ballot measure giving City Light control over its own construction projects. The ballot measure passes and pro-City Light council members win election. Mayor Edwards will be recalled from office.
File 3547: Full Text >
Voters recall Mayor Frank Edwards from office for firing City Light Superintendent J. D. Ross on July 13, 1931.
On July 13, 1931, voters recall Mayor Frank E. Edwards from office for firing Seattle City Light Superintendent James D. "J.D." Ross (1872-1939). The vote is 125,000 to 15,000, reflecting Ross's popularity as well as suspicion of corporations seeking to control electric power. Through the rest of the decade, politicians' positions on public power became a litmus test for winning office.
File 3548: Full Text >
Federal Theatre Project's Power opens in Seattle on July 6, 1937.
On July 6, 1937, the Seattle unit of the WPA-sponsored Federal Theatre Project presents the opening night of Power
, written by Arthur Arent and directed by Florence James. Co-sponsored by Seattle City Light and performed at the Metropolitan Theatre, the play examines "the history, use, abuse and control of power" (Flanagan, 306). The play lobs missiles in the controversy currently raging over municipal and private ownership of electrical power. Performances sell out amid vast publicity and excitement, and elicit denunciations from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer
and The Seattle Times
File 3977: Full Text >
Eugene R. Hoffman becomes superintendent of Seattle City Light on May 10, 1939.
On May 10, 1939, the Seattle City Council confirms Eugene
R. Hoffman (d. 1976) as Superintendent of Lighting to succeed James D. "J. D." Ross (1872-1939). Hoffman will lead the utility through World War II, the
completion of Ross Dam, the post-war boom, and the acquisition of Puget Sound Power & Light's system in Seattle.
File 3618: Full Text >
KOL Radio broadcasts The Romance of Power live from the Skagit River on August 19, 1939.
On August 19, 1939, at 5:00 p.m., Seattle radio station KOL broadcasts The Romance of Power
coast-to-coast, live from Seattle City Light's Skagit River hydro-electric project. The half-hour program, which features interviews with City Light managers, dramatizes hydro-electric power and the awe-inspiring surroundings of the dam. The production is designed by the Mutual Broadcasting System as a memorial to Seattle City Light Superintendent James Delmage ("J.D.") Ross (1872-1939) who had died a few months earlier. The script for the show reveals details of producing a radio show from a remote natural setting and the obstacles to be overcome in a time before microwaves and satellite cameras.
File 2895: Full Text >
Seattle City Light completes Ross Dam on August 18, 1949.
On August 18, 1949, the third stage of Ross Dam, located in southeast Whatcom County on the Skagit River, is completed. Owned by Seattle City Light, the dam will provide hydroelectric power to the City of Seattle. The dam is 540 feet high and creates Ross Lake which, when full, rises 1,600 feet above sea level. Ross Lake extends into British Columbia, which is 20 miles from the dam.
File 5515: Full Text >
Seattle voters approve City Light purchase of Puget Power assets within city limits on November 7, 1950.
On November 7, 1950, Seattle voters narrowly approve City Light's acquisition of Puget Power's assets within the city limits at a cost of $27.8 million. The referendum passes by a scant 754 votes out of a total of 130,000 cast, and ends a half-century power struggle between the two utilities.
File 2768: Full Text >
Paul Raver becomes superintendent of Seattle City Light on January 15, 1954.
On January 15, 1954, Dr. Paul Raver (1894-1963) becomes superintendent of Seattle City Light. Under Raver, the utility will double the amount of power delivered, build Gorge High Dam, complete the Ross power plant, and improve the Diablo power plant.
File 3619: Full Text >
Seattle City Light completes Gorge High Dam on January 6, 1961.
On January 6, 1961, Seattle City Light completes Gorge High Dam on the upper Skagit River, in southeast Whatcom County. The dam is 300 feet high. The combination gravity-arch concrete structure diverts water to a tunnel, which connects to a powerhouse two miles downstream.
File 2531: Full Text >
John M. Nelson becomes superintendent of Seattle City Light on May 4, 1963.
On May 4, 1963, John M. Nelson (1908-1974) becomes superintendent of Seattle City Light when his appointment is confirmed by the City Council. Nelson will lead the City Light in its last years of unrestricted load growth and construction into an era when elected officials reassert control over the public utility. He will retire in 1972 after Mayor Wes Uhlman blocks plans to raise Ross Dam.
File 3620: Full Text >
First commercial electricity from Boundary Dam reaches Seattle on September 1, 1967.
On September 1, 1967, the first commercial electricity from Seattle City Light's new Boundary Dam arrives in Seattle. The thin-arch, concrete dam sits in Box Canyon on the Pend Oreille River in northeastern Washington. Its four generators produce 600,000 kilowatts of current, more than any other powerhouse on the City Light system.
File 2861: Full Text >
Seattle City Light approved to purchase Kiket Island for a proposed nuclear power plant on June 30, 1969.
On June 30, 1969, Seattle City Council approves City Light's request to purchase Kiket Island at Deception Pass (located 70 miles north of Seattle) as a site for a $250 million nuclear power plant. Council member Tim Hill (b. 1936) casts the only dissenting vote. The plan will be dropped in 1972 due to environmental concerns.
File 1249: Full Text >
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