1902 : Sault Ste. Marie Celebrates Opening of Hydro-Power Plant

October 25, 2018 all-day

After four years of construction, Francis Clergue, hoping to make a fortune selling electric power, opens a hydro-power plant in Sault Ste. Marie (U.S.). This low-head hydro plant was the longest in the world, and in design capacity (40,000 h.p.) was second only to Niagara in the U.S. The canal had the largest water-carrying section in the U.S., delivering 30,000 cubic feet per second.

Clerque spent over $50,000 for fireworks, bands, and food to celebrate the event on this day. “Invitations were sent to all members of the Michigan State Legislature, the Governor, the heads of the state government departments, the U.S. Congressional delegation from Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin and a large number of prominent American engineers, businessmen, and representatives of the press. Special trains were chartered at company expense, bringing Investors and potential Investors from New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, Montreal, and Toronto for the celebration. The second floor of the powerhouse was used for the celebration, which was attended by 5,000 people. A large civic and military parade was held and Clergue’s sister, Helen, threw a gold and jeweled switch, setting two generators into operation, lighting up several strings of arc and Incandescent lamps, and setting In motion a street car that ran over tracks laid from the powerhouse to the country club. Speeches were delivered at the banquet, with Clergue offering a rosy picture of Industrial development In Sault, Michigan. It was thought to be only a matter of time until this small outpost of the eastern upper peninsula would become a thriving city of over 100,000 and an industrial center of the Midwest.”

Source : Michigan Every Day and Edison Sault Electric Company website.

For more information about Clergue, visit Francis H. Clergue and the Clergue Industrial Empire

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