Light Comes to Columbia, 1905


The Adair County News, October 19, 1904

The proposition to put in an electric light plant is meeting with favor and within a short while Columbia's midnight darkness will be dispelled by the blaze of electricity.

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November 9, 1904

An application for a franchise to put in an electric light plant in Columbia will be asked of the municipal board at an early day. We understand that as soon as the franchise is granted the plant will be put in and the town lighted, a sufficient number of citizens having agreed to take lights to warrant the promoters in putting in the plant. This enterprise will not only be a great convenience, but it will enliven the business of the town.

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November 23, 1904

Franchise Sale

The town of Columbia, will sell, at public auction, the franchise to operate and maintain an electric light plant, for a term of twenty years, in Columbia, at the court house door, the 3rd day of December, 1904. The sale will take place at 10 a.m., and the purchaser will be required to give bond, with approved security, to faithfully carry out the provisions of the franchise.

/s/ W.H. Wilson Chairman Board of Trustees

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December 7, 1904

The franchise to operate an electric light plant was sold to Myers Bros. last Saturday [Dec. 3rd.] They will at once begin work, putting in the plant, and hope to have it in operation in a very short time. Quite a number of citizens have already agreed to take lights and many others will subscribe.

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In the same issue, Mr. Chas. S. Harris, editor of the News and an always ready proponent of progress, thundered thus from his bully pulpit:

Work on the electric light plant will begin at an early day and so far as we are advised there has been no provision made by the council for lighting the streets. Myers Bros., the young men who bought the franchise, are going to put in a plant capable of producing 150 incan-descent lights of 16 candle power, provided that the people of the town would contract for 100 of them. We understand that the 100 was readily placed, so the plant is assured. Now it will be up to the council to light the town or allow it to remain in darkness. Of course it will require some extra revenue to provide proper lights for the streets and square, but it would be well spent. At this stage of the game a 36 candle incandescent light would do all right for the streets, and come much cheaper than an arc light. Later on, when our town pulls up in population and wealth, we shall favor the brilliant rays of an arc. Light the streets with incandescents.

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The Council & citizens of Columbia agreed, and the January 11, 1905 edition reported the good news:

The Town Council will enter into a contract with the Columbia Light and Power Company for street lights at its next regular meeting. Messrs. W.R. Myers and sons, who compose the company will put in a good plant just as soon as possible to do so without facing too disagreeable weather. Should the weather be favorable for such work the plant will be in operation within a few weeks. Up to date we have not heard of a single objector to this advanced step. The town council is fortunate to have the active and solid endorsement of the people of the town in this and other moves that will make public conditions better. The Gentlemen who compose the Company are progressive and public spirited, and their action in putting in this plant meets the approval of Columbians and will beyond a doubt, receive a just recompense of reward.

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March 25, 1905

The Electric Plant

An Electric light plant for Columbia is now an assured fact. Mr. W.R. Myers was in the market last week and purchased a plant with full power to light the town. This is another movement, showing the enterprise of this town. The municipal board accepted a proposition from Mr. Myers to furnish him so much money annually to put in the plant. There will be eight arc lights, four upon the square and one out each street. Beside the arc lights, there will be any number of incandescent lights. Mr. Myers' electrician is now here and the work has begun, and in a few weeks Columbia will have a convenience that only larger towns in Kentucky have enjoyed for years. All honor to the board and Mr. Myers.

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April 12, 1905

Mr. W.R. Myers and Sons, who are to operate the electric light plant, are receiving and planting the poles. All the machinery necessary for the enterprise will be here in a few days.

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April 26, 1905

Mr. W.R. Myers wishes to state to the citizens of Columbia that he is making preparations as rapidly as possible, and that the electric light plant will be in operation in about six weeks. mr. Myers has been delayed in securing the long poles, but all arrangements will be perfected in the above named time.

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May 24, 1905

Mr. Myers requests us to state that the electric light plant has been installed and belted and run, the machinery moving like that of a clock. The wire has not arrived, but is expected at any time. The delay is no fault of Mr. Myers, but in transportation of the wire from the factory.

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May 31, 1905

Mr. W.R. Myers is now stretching the wire for the electric lights. The plant will be in operation in about two weeks.

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June 14, 1905

Move UP

Columbia now has electric street lights, due to the progressive spirit of Mr. W.R. Myers, and the town council. There is not a question as to the general approval of this step, and while only eight arc lights dispel the darkness at present, it is only a question of short time when more will be swung. The next step taken ought to be the protection of property from fire, and this can only be done by putting in water works. Lights are good and add to the comfort and protection of those who are out at night, and are well worth the effort and cost it took to secure them... [This sentence continues  on as a segue into a lengthy op-ed in favor of municipal waterworks.]

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July 5, 1905

The Myers Electric Light Co., are putting in the lights as rapidly as possible. In a few days our city will be well illuminated--and then the water works.

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August 16, 1905

The electric light plant, now in operation, is a convenience the citizens of Columbia should have been enjoying several years ago. The four arc lights on the square make it as bright as day, and a great deal of shopping is done after supper. A number or residents here had their residences wired and many others will follow suit.

No persons in Columbia are more interested in the up-building of the town than Mr. W.R. Myers & Sons, and to them and the municipal board, credit is due for the lights.

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August 23, 1905

It is likely that four more arc lights will be put in, one on each street, but farther out. People who live just inside the corporate limits are making noise. They are entitled to more light.

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October 4, 1905

Walker, Morrison & Co., had electric lights put in their building last week. They are ready for night runs and propose to meet every demand made for builders materials. (Some of the places mentioned in previous editions as being electrified were the Masonic hall, the Christian church chapel, and the Mrs. Cordie Rosenfield residence. The November 29 edition stated that "The Myers Electric Light Co., informed us that they have in over three hundred in-candescent lights in Columbia at present," and that "The Adair County News has recently put in seven incandescent lights. Bring on your job work--'every hour looks the same to us.'" A few weeks later, the Columbia Baptist church joined the enlightened crowd.)

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December 13, 1905

An Enterprising Man


Mr. W.R. Myers is putting in a 90 horse power boiler at his mill and electric light plant, and within a short time will have all the power necessary to drive all the machinery in that part of town. he furnishes power for his roller mill, for the planing and saw mill and for the Columbia singletree factory every day, and at night the electric light plant. Heretofore some trouble has been experienced for the lack of power when two or more of the above plants needed to go at the same time, but all this trouble is now passing, and the machinery will make a merrier hum and the light shine brighter and more constant.


A full page ad for "50 to 75" building lots appeared in the June 11, 1906 News. The ad noted, in part, that Columbia had the following  businesses: "four dry goods stores, six grocery stores, one exclusive furniture establishment, two hardware and saddlery houses, two undertakers' establishments, two first-class roller mills, three planing mills, three hotels, three banks, which have on deposit over $375,000, spoke and singletree factory, three stave yards, four lumber yards, vast quantities of lumber, telephone system, local and long distance, two flourishing newspapers... electric light plant, large street lamps, two first-class livery stables, five blacksmith shops equipped for doing all kinds of iron and wood work, one wholesale house and three poultry houses."