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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Ann Arbor in Washtenaw County, Michigan — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

Power and Transportation

 
 
Power and Transportation Marker image. Click for full size.
By Joel Seewald, August 30, 2020
1. Power and Transportation Marker
Inscription.  
Detroit Edison sold electric home appliances from 1915 to 1983 in its showroom across the street. The earliest Ann Arbor homes were lit by fireplace flames and lard lamps. Oil, along with gas manufactured after 1858 from the burning of coal, lit most homes and streets until the arrival of electricity. Electric power came to Ann Arbor in 1884 when the Ann Arbor Van Depoele Light and Power Co. built a generating plant powered by coal-fired steam on Washington Street just west of the Ann Arbor Railroad. It provided safer, cleaner, and brighter power for 36 stores and residences and added 33 electric streetlights to the town's array of gas lampposts. For the next two decades, some areas continued to be lit by gas and many homes were equipped with both electric and gas lights in a combination fixture.

After 1886 dams along the Huron River generated hydropower. In 1905 the Detroit Edison Company started buying water rights, mills, land, and existing small water power plants along the river in order to establish itself as the major supplier of electricity in Washtenaw County. Later it provided electric power for Ann Arbor's streetcars
Power and Transportation Marker - top panel, main image image. Click for full size.
Bentley Historical Library
2. Power and Transportation Marker - top panel, main image
Detroit Edison Building 1923
and interurbans. Barton Dam, built by Edison in 1912, was the first of six new hydroelectric dams. The power supplied was inadequate for the rapidly growing electricity needs of the area, so coal-powered plants elsewhere expanded to meet the demand. Edison's dams created ponds that provided recreation as well as a scenic area that became Barton Hills.

Photos courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library
 
Erected by Ann Arbor Historic District Commission.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceRailroads & Streetcars.
 
Location. 42° 16.685′ N, 83° 44.926′ W. Marker is in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in Washtenaw County. Marker is at the intersection of South Main Street and William Street, on the left when traveling north on South Main Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 350 South Main Street, Ann Arbor MI 48104, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Everyone Loves a Parade (a few steps from this marker); Ann Arbor Streetcars (a few steps from this marker); The Main Street Shopping Experience (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Main Street Shopping Expands (about 500 feet away); Downtown Movie Theaters (about 600 feet away); Changing Retail Patterns
Power and Transportation Marker - top panel, lower left inset image. Click for full size.
Bentley Historical Library
3. Power and Transportation Marker - top panel, lower left inset
Edison salesroom in 1923 showing the latest in electric lamps and vacuum cleaners
(about 600 feet away); Bethlehem United Church of Christ (about 600 feet away); Allen Creek Valley Shapes the Town (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Ann Arbor.
 
Also see . . .  Site 3. Main and William. Marker on the Downtown Ann Arbor Historical Street Exhibit website. (Submitted on August 30, 2020, by Joel Seewald of Madison Heights, Michigan.) 
 
Power and Transportation Marker - top panel, lower right inset image. Click for full size.
Bentley Historical Library
4. Power and Transportation Marker - top panel, lower right inset
Barton dam under construction, 1912
Power and Transportation Marker - lower panel, main image image. Click for full size.
Bentley Historical Library
5. Power and Transportation Marker - lower panel, main image
By 1890 Ann Arbor Street Railway cars traveled regularly up and down Main Street, turning east at William to the University. A plan to see horse-drawn cars was scrapped when new technology allowed Ann Arbor to be one of the first towns in Michigan with an electric streetcar line. In 1891 Michigan's first interurban railway line started between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. Early cars were drawn by a steam dummy, a small steam engine clad in a streetcar body. The line was electrified in 1896, entering town along Packard to connect with the streetcar tracks. By 1902 it was extended east to Detroit and west to Jackson.
Power and Transportation Marker - lower panel, upper left inset image. Click for full size.
Bentley Historical Library
6. Power and Transportation Marker - lower panel, upper left inset
Power and Transportation Marker - bottom panel, upper right image. Click for full size.
Bentley Historical Library
7. Power and Transportation Marker - bottom panel, upper right
Interurban train hauled by steam dummy motor car
Power and Transportation Marker image. Click for full size.
By Joel Seewald, August 30, 2020
8. Power and Transportation Marker
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on August 31, 2020. It was originally submitted on August 30, 2020, by Joel Seewald of Madison Heights, Michigan. This page has been viewed 61 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on August 30, 2020, by Joel Seewald of Madison Heights, Michigan.
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Jan. 21, 2021