Generations of families living near the Susquehanna River in Plymouth, or passing over the Carey Avenue Bridge, have grown accustom to seeing the huge smokestacks looming in the background.
1950s (?) era picture with smokestacks in background
While the smokestacks have been dormant for many decades, and in some ways, have even changed with the times because, apparently, they now have something to do with providing cellular service, they still stand as a monument to a more powerful time—a time when humans first became God-like in their ability to provide artificial light, on a grand scale, during the darkest hours of the night.
In 1882, the first commercial power station opened in New York City. Just two years later, The Wilkes-Barre Electric Company, along with Hildreth & Co. (Nanticoke), started offering service in some areas of Luzerne County.
Locally, it was primarily our West Side Communities that were the pioneers in electrical power and lighting for the area. Nanticoke, Kingston, Wyoming, Forty Fort, Luzerne, Plymouth and Shickshinny all constructed power plants to meet the growing needs of this exciting, new industry.
“I’ve Got The Power……..It’s gettin’ it’s gettin’ it’s gettin’ kinda hectic……”
Eventually, they all merged and consolidated into one big “light plant” that took over the responsibility for serving the entire area, which is what you still see standing today at the river’s edge, on the corner of Bridge and Beade Streets. Built in 1905, it was the fifth power plant erected in Plymouth.
The very first power plant to operate in Plymouth opened in 1886 on Cherry Street. During the early years of the lighting industry, commercial lighting was only furnished during “lighting hours” and only street lights were on the “moonlight”, or “all night”, schedule. I find it compelling to contemplate the notion that at one point humans had little control over darkness, and then we found a way to master the darkness by distributing artificial light.
Today, the Plymouth Light Plant still stands, in a state of semi-abandonment. The front portion of the building, bordering Bridge Street, is used as a rental storage facility, while the back portion of the structure remains unused. The grounds around the back, with all of the “High Voltage” electrical service structures, make up the UGI Electrical Service Plymouth Substation.
A big “thanks” to the Plymouth Historical Society for providing me with the information about the Plymouth Power Plant! I was unable find anything on my own…..
Luzerne County Gas & Electric Corporation “ghost sign” overlooking the Susquehanna River
Smokestack as it looks from the front of the home
that belonged to my grandparents on Beade Street
Cheri Sundra © 2012
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