ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin


Watertown Gas Company

Wisconsin Gas & Electric Company



Derived from: The History of Jefferson County, Wisconsin by C. W. Butterfield, 1879


William H. Clark, cashier of the Bank of Watertown; came to Milwaukee in 1852, and to Watertown in 1854.  He organized the bank that year and has been connected with it ever since; Mr. Clark organized the gas company here, in connection with A. L. Pritchard, and conducted the works for several years.  He has been in the banking business continuously since August 4, 1854, over a quarter of a century.  Mr. Clark is a native of Chemung Co., N.Y.



02 21       The Gas Company is laying the main pipe under the bridge in order to cross the river and form a connection with Main Street and West Avenue.  So severe and steady has been the cold of the past few weeks, that is has been impossible to do anything towards completing the Gas Works.  All the iron is now here, and a large number of skillful and experienced mechanics are waiting to improve the first opportunity that occurs to resume operations and complete the works as soon as it is practical to do so.   WD


03 20       The Gas Holder is now being built at the Gas Works.  Mr. J. Bromfield, the enterprising superintendent, informs us that the works will be in full operation at farthest, by the 1st of May, if not before that date.  Nothing but the weather, which for months rendered it necessary to suspend all kinds of labor on them, has prevented their completion weeks ago.  Everything about these works has a substantial appearance and bears the imprints of being all done by those who are masters of their business -- looking as if made for real service and to endure for a long time.   WD


04 24       The Gas Works, if the weather continues as it has been for a week past, will be ready to go into operation the latter part of next week. The works are now nearly completed.  They are said to be superior to any that have heretofore been erected in this state.   WD



First gas service in 1856 when, on May 18 of that year, the Watertown City Gas Co. began service to a list of 100 customers.   WD



01 31       Proceedings of the Common Council:  Resolved, That the Gas Company be directed to discontinue lighting the street lamps in the Fourth Ward from and after this date, as the said Ward has no means to pay such bills.   WD



If there has been any one question more than another that has given rise to fierce discussion in the Common Council, it is that as to what disposition should be made to the bills in favor of the Gas Company for the gas burned in our street lamps.


Some of the aldermen take the ground that each ward should pay out of its own fund for the gas consumed in its limits, and that the same should not be made a charge upon the city general fund.  We believe this is the way the matter stands now and that the 1st, 2d, 3d and 4th wards, being the only ones in which there are any lamps, now pay for the lighting of the streets.


We consider this unfair and unequal.  We do not know why the 5th, 6th and 7th wards should be absolved from their part of this expense, though there are no lamps located within their limits, any more than they should be for any other outlay for the benefit of the city at large.  Why could they not, with the same propriety, have been relieved from the payment of their just proportion of the cost of building the Main Street bridge?  Or why not exonerated from their share of the expense of repairing the Plank Road bridge near the Rough and Ready Mill?


. . . It ought to be shared alike by all.  We regard it as an improvement which the city should sustain, as a whole, and can not see any propriety or sense in making four wards maintain it for the benefit of the seven.  We furthermore believe that a tax levied in accordance with that principle is illegal, and that the same if contested would not stand the test of law.  There certainly is no equality in such taxation.   WR




Watertown Gas Co.  At a recent meeting of the stockholders of this company the following named persons were chosen Directors:  J. M. Underwood, Chicago; William M. Dennis, Daniel Jones, A. L. Pritchard and William H. Clark, all of Watertown.   WD


12 11       GAS . . . OR NO GAS

The question before this community is whether we are going to have gas or go without.  The Gas Company finds that at the present rate they will have to stop manufacturing, the increased price of coal having added materially to their expenses. 


Last week the gas consumers held a meeting for the purpose of ascertaining what measures could be adopted to continue the supply.  They are willing to pay as high as five dollars per 1,000 feet and if the amount taken could be sufficiently increased to make it safe to the company to go on, we presume there would be no difficulty in keeping the works in operation, but nobody can ask the company to run them merely for the fun of the thing – and lose money too.


As far as we have heard any expression on the subject, we think it is safe to assume that a large majority of our citizens are decidedly in favor of having our streets again lit up during the evening.  Of course, there are some evenings when this would not be necessary, but most of the time the nights are dark, and then lighted streets are a great convenience to all who have occasion to go out.  As the benefit is public and general, the compensations ought to be paid out of the general fund.  Those who have been to the trouble and expense of putting in fixtures are unwilling to change them and resort once more to the old methods, and besides this, the use of lamps would have the effect of raising the rates of insurance, which would be a considerable item to a city like this.


It is to be hoped that some means may be devised by which the company will be able to continue their works.  The consumers seem ready to do their part, and if their number can be sufficiently increased at the new price they have expressed themselves willing to pay, the chief trouble will be removed.   WD



The special committee appointed at the last meeting of the Common Council “to confer with the Watertown Gas Company in relation to continuing the supply of gas” report that they have seen the President and Secretary and conferred with them on the subject and they believe if the Common Council will adopt the accompanying resolution that the company will continue their works and supply the city with gas.  They therefore recommend its adoption.  – T. Prentiss, for the Committee . . .  WD



01 01       GAS LAMP POST

COMMON COUNCIL – Resolved that the Watertown Gas Company be authorized to remove the lamp post from the corner of Clyman and Third streets and locate the same on the corner of Clyman and Fifth streets.    WD



Common Council Proceedings:  Resolved that the Watertown City Gas Company be requested to continue the laying of their gas pipe on West Avenue Street [West Main St] to the track of the Chicago and NorthWestern Railroad, and that lamps be located at such points as the Mayor may direct, the laying of said pipes to be at the expense of said Gas Company. 


Ald. Dennis offered the following as an addition to said resolution:  And that the sum of five hundred dollars be and the same is hereby appropriated to rebuild the same, provided the excess of the cost be paid by private subscription, upon which the ayes and noes were called, and being a tie vote, the Mayor, on the casting vote, voted No!  Amendment was lost.  WD




The Gas Company gives notice of which will interest all consumers in this city.  For want of sufficient encouragement and the increased cost of manufacture, the works are about to be suspended.  This will be an inconvenience to those who now use it and have put up fixtures.  We hope something may be done to avoid this result.  WD



A meeting of the stockholders of the new Gas Company was held June 27th, at which C. Jacobi, A. Pfundheller, G. Werlich, E. Johnson, and A. Peterson were chosen directors.  At a subsequent meeting of the Board of Directors, C. Jacobi was elected President, G. Werlich Secretary, A. Peterson Treasurer, and Joseph Miller Superintendent.    WD



04 06       CITY GAS BILL

The Clerk reported on the gas bill of last month that he found 26 lamps burning; on motion the gas bill of $49.83 was allowed and order issued to be paid.  Common Council Proceedings.   WD



Last week the Gas Works suddenly stopped operations and left the city without light.  This was owing partly to the fact that the works were out of order, which can easily be repaired, but more to the fact that the company receives an inadequate patronage, which can only be remedied by selling more gas, or asking more for what is used.  The company has every disposition to carry on their works, but it is evident this cannot be done while a sufficient quantity of gas is not taken to pay expenses.  It depends wholly on those who prefer this kind of light to decide whether these works shall be longer continued.  They must be made self-supporting or go down, for there is nobody here willing to run them at a loss.  We understand the company have maintained them as long as their means held out and are ready to resume operations as soon as there is a reasonable prospect they can be kept going without sinking money.  It is to be hoped efforts will be made to soon have them again in working order and that they will be liberally sustained by those interested in their success.  WD



The Gas Works of this city have again stopped operations, and our streets are again in darkness during the night.  If we are correctly informed, the difficulty lies in the fact that the works are not self-sustaining – the amount consumed and the price paid are not sufficient to pay the cost of manufacture.  Whether measures can be taken to remedy this difference we do not know.  It seems to us that in a city of this size, where works are already in existence and been in operation several years, there ought to be enterprise and liberality enough to keep running successfully.  It cannot be expected that the company will keep up their works at a loss to themselves.  Those who prefer this kind of light must be willing to pay a remunerative price for it.  Where the trouble is we do not pretend to know, but we hope some efficient steps will soon be taken to again put the works in operation and keep them going.  It would not be very credible to our city to have them sold, taken up and removed, but if they cannot receive sufficient encouragement to keep them going, they will be of no use here and will probably be abandoned – but we trust this unfavorable result will be avoided.   WD



Common Council:  The President stated that this meeting was called for the purpose of considering what aid could be extended to the Gas Company by this city to enable the company to run the works . . .


Resolved, That for the purposes of aiding the Watertown Gas Company in re-establishing its works in the city, it is hereby agreed, upon the part of the city, to pay said Gas Company the sum of one hundred dollars per month for the ensuing six years for the gas used by the city, provided that the Gas Company shall erect posts upon the line of its pipes at such places and times as the Mayor and Council may direct; the expense of erecting the additional posts to be paid by the city, provided also that the Gas Company shall not be required to furnish more gas under this agreement than will amount to $1200 per annum, at the same rate as that paid by private consumers.  Adopted.  WD



10 26       EXTENSION OF GAS

The Watertown Gas company will soon commence laying gas pipes along several streets not heretofore supplied with this article of light.  Along Second Street, north of Main, as far as Bursinger's Brewery, at which time arrangements will be made to supply Music Hall.  On First Street, to the Watertown House, supplying the Engine house and Lockup.  On Water Street, on the west side, the pipes will be laid as far up as Weber's store.  We are glad to learn that the increasing consumption makes these extensions necessary.   WR




At a meeting of the Watertown Gas Company last Monday it was unanimously voted that the company to erect an electric light plant in this city, the same to be done it once, or as soon as a franchise can be obtained from the city.  Material has already been ordered and an electrician is expected here in a few days.  The company is to be styled the Watertown Gas, Electric Light and Power Company.  It will furnish small power for running light machinery for any one desiring it.  WG



                Joseph Terbrueggan, W. J. Toussaint and L. H. Cordes established the Watertown Electric Light plant; disposed of in 1906 to the John I. Beggs interests.


In 1889 Joseph Terbrueggen was one of a company of three who put in the electric lighting system in the city and the company later disposed of the plant. 


Mr. Cordes became greatly interested in electric lighting, a subject which he studied with great enthusiasm.  Coming to the belief that Watertown could support a plant, the partners secured a franchise from the city of Watertown on May 27, 1889, and at once proceeded to install.


Business men and the public generally know little about electric lighting systems and rather doubted its success in a town of this size.  However, they did not allow themselves to become discouraged and went to work to secure contracts from business men and others.  The city contracted for twenty street lights, and a number of business men agreed to take a few lights, the late Joseph Salick, the jeweler, being the first to commend the lights and signing a contract for a substantial number of lights.  Most of the business men were indifferent but became convinced of its feasibility as soon as a few were put in use.




A portion of the electric lights on the streets were started up Monday evening, but a more general lighting of the city occurred last evening, most of the arc lights in the city shedding their brilliant rays on the surroundings.  The lights are a fine success, up fully to the most sanguine expectations and reflecting credit on the Thomson-Houston system.  The effect of the lights on Main Street was very fine and Fifth Street for the entire distance from Main to the St. Paul depot was rendered dazzling in appearance.  Every light used worked to satisfaction, showing the system to be perfect at the plant. The Watertown Electric Light company is congratulated in so successfully meeting the demands for more light in our city and adding another interest to Watertown’s welfare.  WG



The city was lighted for the first time last Monday night with electric light.  At first a little difficulty in getting the light to work properly, but on Tuesday and Wednesday nights the light worked to perfection, which speaks well for the Thomson-Houston system and the Watertown Electric Light Co. in getting it so promptly in shape on the night advertised.  It is as good a light as any we have seen in any city, and better than some.  We feel justified in claiming this, as we have probably seen as many cities lighted by electric light as any person in the city.   It is equal to the light of Eau Claire, Steven's Point, Madison, Oshkosh and La Crosse in this state, and to that of the cities of Peoria, Bloomington, Pekin, Joliet, and other cities we have visited in Illinois.  The only fault we find in is with the Board of Street Commissioners in not ordering more placed in sections of the city not now lighted by either gas or electric light.    WG



From meeting of the Board of Street Commissioners on Tuesday eve.  The Watertown Electric Light Company was authorized and instructed to put up one arc light at intersection of Main and 7th streets and one at the intersection of Main and 9th St.  And since Western Ave. and part of Main Street has been lighted up by electric light, that the gas be discontinue on West Avenue from the Chicago & Northwestern railroad track eastward up to 9th Street and the light on the corner of 5th and Clyman streets also be discontinued.  The committee on gas was instructed to look into the possibility of other gas lights being turned off.     WR



Item taken from the Juneau Telephone.  On Tuesday evening it was our pleasure to see Watertown illuminated by electricity.  A large arc light is used and is to all appearances is the best of all systems for lighting streets.  The lights are powerful and exceedingly effective, a single lamp illuminating the street for more than one block on either side.  Although very strong, the light is so softened by a ground-glass globe as to be not at all severe on or injurious to the eyes.  The lamps are hung directly over the center of the street and can be lowered and raised at the will of the operator for the purpose of trimming, which consists of placing therein a new carbon which generates the light by becoming incandescent when charged with electricity.  Many of the stores and saloons are now lit up with electric light, at the expense of about $7 a month.  So far as tested the lights work well and Watertown people are pleased with the experiment.    WG



Everything pertaining to lighting the city is now of interest.  Not a few of our citizens are in favor of having the streets lighted all night.  This cannot be done by the electric light as the arc lights are shut off at midnight.  In view of this the question comes up of the propriety of starting the gas lamps at 12 o'clock every night and thus keep the city continually lighted.   WR



The Wisconsin Electric Club was organized in Milwaukee last week, its object being the dissemination of technical knowledge of electricity.  Applicants from all parts of the state will be admitted, and therefore there will be aroused more practical interest in the subject.  This Is a good idea, the use of electricity for lighting purposes becoming so general in our state.    WR



The Electric Light Company started the incandescent lights Christmas Eve for the first time.  All that have been put in so far are the sixteen-candle power.  The lights are a success.    WR




Watertown, Wis., Jan 16, 1890 -- Among the many electric light installations few, if any, surpass in the general excellence the combination plant of the above-named company.  The power house is a brick structure 50x90 feet, with a chimney of splendid proportions rising to the height of 90 feet above the ground, and is situated on the bank of Rock river, in the center of the city.  It is divided into two sections by a heavy brick wall.  The rear portion of 40 feet, thus formed, constituting the boiler room, in which is placed a battery of two steel boilers, each of the 75 h.p. capacity, made by the Miller & Reichardt Manufacturing company of this city. 



These boilers are perfect in every particular, standing the highest hydrostatic test, and reflect great credit upon their makers.  The engine and dynamo room is a model of its kind.  The engine Is of the Corliss type, made by the Weisel & Vilter Manufacturing company of Milwaukee, Wis. and is in every respect a perfect piece of mechanism.  It rests upon a bed as solid as is possible for nature and art to make it, being composed of concrete, capped with the finest quality of brick laid in cement, which in turn is mounted with heavy blocks of limestone, and the whole mass of structure resting upon the bedrock 12 feet below the surface.  It is not surprising, after what has been stated, that this engine of 142 indicated horse power manifests no perceptible tremor anywhere in its most immediate neighborhood.  In connection with the engine a Berryman feed water heater and Knowles pump are doing good work and are giving excellent satisfaction.  The lighting plant was furnished by the Thomson-Houston Electric company and consists of one arc generator of 50-light capacity, and one alternating machine of 650 lights, respectively, furnished with the usual complement of regulating and indicating apparatus.  The dynamos are run from shafting, the pulleys of which are furnished with Hill friction clutches.  The plant was contracted for last July.  Work was immediately begun upon the power house, under the supervision of the able master mechanic F. W. Ghores, who mounted the engine and did not leave the post until the arc lights were turned on Dec. 2, 1889.


The electrical work was done under the supervision of the Thomson-Houston company’s expert, Mr. Geo. Morine, and the entire work, from the setting of the first pole to the placing of the lamps in their sockets, is alike a credit to himself, his assistants and his company. 


The success of the local company has been most encouraging, nearly the entire capacity of the arc machine being already absorbed, and at the present writing wiring is fast being completed for over 450 lamps.  The indications are that it will not be long before the capacity of the incandescent machine will be taken up also.  The engine and dynamo are operated by Aug. Hanson.    The Electrical World, Feb 8, 1890.




The armature of one of the arc dynamos at the electric light works burned out Sunday night, shortly after dark, shutting off a portion of the arc lights.  Until a new armature is procured, the city is obliged to get along with ten less arc lights than heretofore.  WR



The new armature for the arc light dynamo at the Electric Light plant has been placed in its position and the full number of arc lights throughout the city are now lighted.    WR



[same date] A blaze started in the Gas Fixture factory on First street yesterday, and but for the appliance of some water by the employees just at the right time, a serious fire might have occurred.    WR



04 27       SEWER CAVE IN

While removing gas pipe from the sewer trench on Main Street near Union school No. 1 on last Saturday, J. Robinson, Jr., of this city, and Denny Sullivan, of Hurley, employed by the Watertown Gas Co., narrowly escaped death by the bank of the sewer caving in, completely covering Robinson, who was in a stooping position at the time, and burying Sullivan up to his waist.  Prompt and careful assistance by their fellow-workmen rescued Robinson, at least, from death.  Sullivan sustained but slight injuries on his hip and leg, and able to be around again, but Robinson's injuries are more serious, his spine and lower limbs being badly injured, the lower portion of his body being paralyzed from the injuries sustained, and for a time it was thought he could not survive.  We understand, however, he is now improving, and hopes are entertained by his numerous friends here that he will be out again in a short time.  Drs. Whyte and Moulding attended the injured men, and very skillfully handled their cases.     WG




The regular meeting of the common council last evening was attended by all the members, with Mayor Mulberger in the chair.  A petition was presented by interested citizens praying for the removal of the electric arc light now at the intersection of College and Western avenues to the intersection of Twelfth Street and Western Avenue.  Referred to the committee on street lighting.  WR


07 27       MAIN STREET GAS MAIN, recalking joints repairing of  

Complying with provision made by the common council, the Watertown Gas Company is engaged in recalking joints and making other necessary repairs to the gas main which lies in Main Street.  This main was laid forty years ago and is found to be in very good condition, experience showing that cast iron does not wear out in the ground.  In refilling the trench the company workmen are performing excellent service and setting an example worthy of emulation by persons similarly employed.  The earth is so perfectly tamped that an almost even surface is left over the trench.  This very desirable condition would seem to refute the contention often made here that the same amount of earth taken from a trench cannot be replaced without leaving a clumsy and unsightly ridge.  The plan pursued by the Gas Company entails the service of three tampers to one filler.


The plumbers and drain-layers are also performing good work along Main Street in refilling the trenches.  All this work is closely watched by the board of public works and by Albert Krueger as inspector.   WR




It might be well for our city officials before entering into another contract for lighting the city to consider the question of dispensing with lighting up moonlight nights.  That always seemed to us a ridiculous waste of money.  In a great many places throughout the country contracts are being made in that way, and this would go a great way toward paying for the extra expense of all night lighting.   WR


02 22       The majority of the members of this council, who forced through a measure inviting proposals for lighting the city by electricity for a term of five years, must have had a clear conception of the value of capital.  If the term had been ten years there might have been some competition.  As it was, only one bid was received, and we understand that was partly by solicitation.  Outside capital could not reasonably be expected to come here and invest something like $20,000 in a plant and at the end of a five- year term possibly have an electric light plant on hand of but very little value.  The Watertown Electric Light Company put in a bid for lighting the streets up to mid-night for the sum of $60 per lamp per year, which is $5 per lamp less than last year.  For an all night service $90 per lamp is wanted.  The proposals call for 2,000 candlepower, while the company's bid was for 1,200 candlepower, the same as is now being furnished.   WR


11 28       The burning out of one of the dynamos at the electric light power house placed the west side and the Seventh ward in darkness for two nights last week, but a new dynamo arrived Wednesday and that night everything was again running right.   WR


        Appears to be the stand for a gas lamp at St. Paul’s church (uncertain date)



04 24       LAYING GAS MAINS

The Watertown Gas Company is laying new gas mains in several portions of the city.  On North Washington Street seven hundred feet of three-inch pipe is being laid and in College Avenue from Milwaukee Street to Main Street is being supplied with two-inch pipe.  An arm of the College Avenue main will be extended west one block in Market Street. 




In the near future, possibly sometime in April, practical demonstration of the use of gas for fuel and cooking purposes will be made in this city and the use of gas generally advocated and its many advantages shown in a practical way at Concordia opera house under the direction of a competent person, who will remain here two weeks.  The use of gas for cooking will receive special consideration by practically showing what can be done with a gas range.


The Watertown Gas company, according to President W. C. Stone, will inaugurate an innovation in this line, securing for consumers ranges at a moderate cost which can be paid for in installments or otherwise, and all connections in the houses will be made free of charge to the consumer.  Modern invention has done much to place this commodity within the reach of all and it is only by witnessing the demonstrations that one can form a correct idea of the saving attendant upon the use of gas for fuel.  Since the reduction in the price of gas the people will find it a paying investment to use more of this article than in former years.    WR



Frank Boelter, who resided in North Montgomery Street, was killed in the power house of the Watertown Electric Co. at the Rough and Ready Dam.  Boelter was employed by the company as a laborer, and with a number of other men had been at work at the power house putting in position a governor for the water wheels. 




Common Council:  Resolved, That the Watertown Electric Company keep burning the electric arc lamp now placed in front of the Turner hall the same nights and length of time that the other city electric arc lamps burn throughout the year, and that said company be paid for so doing twelve dollars ($12.00) per year in addition to the money paid for street lights annually.  Resolved, That Welsbach gas lamps be placed in the streets of the city of Watertown, Wisconsin, at the following designated points, to wit: [here follows 55 different intersections at which the lights will be placed].  


03 07       ALL NIGHT LIGHTS

The new arc electric lights burned all night for the first time Saturday under the new contract with the city.  The power at present is furnished from the Rough & Ready dam for both arc and incandescent lights and this power will be utilized during several of the spring months.  A new governor to control the lights when a heavy load is on will be put in which will make the incandescent lights more steady than at present.  New machinery will also be placed in the power house on First Street to be used when the water supply is short.  People who have occasion to be up during the hours after midnight until dawn appreciate the new lighting system.



[same date]  Live Wire A small chip of wood and a live electric light wire coming in contact Wednesday evening caused the shutting down of the east side electric lights for a short time about 8 o’clock. A small boy noticed a blaze over the door of Mayor Brusenbach’s saloon on Main Street and notified the proprietor who in turn notified the company. The electric current was turned off later on. When the repairer arrived it was readily seen what the matter was but thinking that perhaps the iron roof or cornice might have become charged with the current it was decided to turn off the lights. When that was done investigation showed that a small piece of wood, used for decoration purposes was underneath the wire and the wind in swaying the latter had rubbed off the insulation and the live wire coming in contact set the wood on fire. There was no damage to the building.



08 10       P. L. Utley and Charles Mackay of the Gas and Electric Company were in Milwaukee Monday.  The object of their visit was to ascertain the cost necessary for the enlargement of the gas plant and the time it would probably require.  The demand on the company for gas has increased to such an extent that the plant must be increased to meet the demand which now nearly exceeds its capacity.  Should the plant be increased in size, the work will be begun at an early day.


08 23       The Gas and Electric company has sold over 200 gas cooking stoves thus far this season, and Mr. Hine, the solicitor, is yet at work trying to induce people to be happy.   WR


09 13       A special meeting of the stockholders of the Gas and Electric Co. was held Tuesday evening to arrange for the enlargement of the gas plant, the demand for gas for cooking purposes as well as light having increased to such an extent as to make it absolutely necessary in order to meet the demand.



03 20       Attorney John G. Conway is in receipt of the following notice from Assemblyman Fred Smith, which will be of interest to the readers of The Leader.  It is understood that the Gas and Electric Company has effected a settlement with at least a large majority of property owners and much of the opposition that was evidenced two years ago has vanished.  What action will be taken by the city remains to be seen.   WL




Last Tuesday afternoon C. H. Pfeiffer of Milton, who has been but a short time employed here by the Watertown Gas and Electric Co., came near being killed while at work on an electric light pole in Western Avenue.  He was working on a lead wire from the power house at the dam and he placed his arm on another wire, making a complete circuit, voltage of 2300 passing through his body.  He was rendered unconscious and was held suspended from the wires.  A fellow workman went to his rescue and jerked him from the wires.  His hand and arm were terribly burned.  At this writing it is thought he will recover from his injuries.    WG



01 29       P. Riley scalded by the blowing out of a steam pipe on the boiler   WG


03 05       Superintendent Charles MacKay dismissed; pushed for alderman   WG



The Watertown Gas and Electric Co. is building a new concrete dam a little to the north of the old dam, 11 1/2 feet high, and a power house at the Rough and Ready Dam site, men being employed day and night on the job.  The power house will be of brick and concrete 38 x 94 feet and will be 85 feet high from the river bottom.  It will contain two large water wheels, and a generator for local use and a transformer and a generator connected with the power from Kilbourn dam for use on the interurban street railway line.   WG


08 06        John Berrigan, solicitor, resigned   WG




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In front of Brandt-Dent Co., 416-422 South First Street










One Watertown home after another is succumbing to the friendly attack of our wiring contractors.  They bring light and cheer wherever they go.  They are competent men — do their work neatly and quickly without disturbing domestic routine.  Let them wire your home this spring.  If it is located on our distributing lines and you are now using some other illuminant, we offer to wire the house complete and furnish fixtures, then allow you a whole year to pay the bill in, at so much per month.   Houses in course of construction not included under this offer.  For full information of this special offer, telephone Watertown Gas & Electric.  WG



Mrs. Minnie Riebe will conduct a gas and electric heating and cooking demonstration at the office of the Watertown Gas and Electric Co. all next week.  Cooking by gas, electricity and the paper bag method will be fully explained, and there will be a fine display of electric and gas appliances.  Drop in and get a cup of coffee, cake, toast or a biscuit, all made at the demonstration, to which the public is cordially invited.   WG



The local gas and electric office which has heretofore been kept open on Wednesday evenings will close on that night hereafter, beginning December 1, except when the tenth of the month falls on Wednesday.  In that event the office will be open during that evening.  Since the stores have closed on Wednesday evenings there has been little or no call for accommodation at the gas office and hereafter the men will be given an opportunity to have the evening hours for themselves.  The office will be open on Saturday evening as usual.   WG


    10 17                12 19   






At 1 o'clock Tuesday afternoon Frank L. Cook, 1109 Western Avenue, was found dead in a work car near the C. M. & St. P. Ry. depot.  Mr. Cook had charge of a signal service crew on the C.M. & St. P. Ry., and his office car was in the depot yard, where his Iifeless body was found with a bullet wound in his abdomen.  Mr. Cook told his family he intended going hunting and also the men under him, intending to take the 12:48 train west for Tomah.  When it was near time for the train to arrive one of his men went to the car to call him, supposing he went to sleep in the car, as he was in the habit of doing sometimes.  The door of the car was locked, and not being able to arouse him, Walter Flynn, a young boy in his crew, crawled through a window and unlocked the door from the inside, allowing the rest of the men to enter.  Mr. Cook's body was found stretched on a mattress, and the muzzle of his gun near his body, alongside of which was a piece of molding. 


Mr. Cook went to the car during noon hour after dinner and told one of his men to call him in case he went to sleep in time to catch the train, and the supposition is that while cleaning his gun it accidentally went off and killed him.


Mr. Cook was a well known and highly esteemed electrician and for many years previous to being employed by the C. M. & St. P. Ry. was head electrician for the Watertown Gas & Electric Co.  His tragic death was a great shock to his family, and our citizens in general.


He leaves a wife, one son, Frank Cook of Milwaukee, also two stepchildren.  At 3 o'clock next Monday afternoon an inquest will be held before Justice Rohr.  Mr. Cook's funeral will take place Friday afternoon from his late home under the auspices of the Masonic Lodge, and his remains will be interred in the Lutheran cemetery.  He was a member of Watertown Lodge No. 49 F. and A. M.; of Court No. 144, United Order of Foresters; of Log Camp No. 401 Modern Woodmen of America, and of Watertown Lodge No. 31, I. O. O. F.     Watertown Gazette



[same date] Judge Grimm decided in the circuit court at Jefferson that the city of Watertown could not interfere with the power line constructed in Boomer Street by the Watertown Gas & Electric Co.





03 05       ARNOLD C. REUTLER, new manager

C. A. Comstock has resigned as manager of the Watertown Gas and Electric Co., a position which he has very creditably filled for the past six years, and under whose management the business of the company has been greatly increased.  He always took an active interest in city affairs and served a term as president of the Twilight Club.  Mr. Comstock has several places in view and may decide to locate in one of the larger cities of the state. 


His successor in Watertown is Arnold C. Reutler, who has been in the local office of the company since 1906, starting at the lower round of the ladder as meter reader, then billing clerk, ledger clerk, complaint clerk, cashier, assistant bookkeeper, bookkeeper and chief clerk, and now to the highest position of the company in this city, that of manager.  His promotion is certainly deserved.  He has always been attentive to the duties assigned to him, courteous and efficient, and besides has the very best of habits, which go a long way in aiding a man’s advancement in life. 


The Gazette heartily congratulates him and bespeaks for him success in his new position.  Arthur Tetzlaff, another most worthy employee of the company here, succeeds Mr. Reutler.  Frank Jennings, who has been the obliging and competent superintendent of the gas works, who handed in his resignation over a month ago to engage in business for himself in Watertown, is still in the service of the company, a suitable successor not having yet been found.  WG


03 12       FRANK JENNINGS

Frank M. Jennings, who recently resigned as superintendent of the Watertown Gas Works, has purchased the Schuenke Grocery in the 7th ward [1022 S Third, grocer] and will take charge of it April 1st.  Mr. Jennings made a most excellent superintendent of the gas works, and with the same attention and faithfulness to duty in his new line of business as he gave the old, he will certainly make a success of it.  His many friends wish him prosperity.   WG







02 11       NEW ARC LIGHT

The new arc lights being installed by the Watertown Gas & Electric Co. under their new contract with the city are a great improvement on the old lights and our people are delighted with them.  It is hoped they will continue to throw as good a light in the future for all time as they have since they have been installed.   WG


02 11       HIPPIER & BADER

H. Hippier and K. Bader, former employees of the Watertown Gas & Electric Co., have gone into the electric contracting business under the firm name of Hippier & Bader.  They will sell electric fixtures and do all kinds of electric wiring, etc.  We wish the new firm the patronage it deserves, as both of its members are competent and trustworthy men.  WG



The Watertown Gas and Electric Co. has made several improvements in their plant, including the remodeling of their outside equipment and replacing old and worn-out poles and wires.  The installation by this company of new and modern street lamps has greatly improved the appearance of the streets.   WG



-- --           TURNER HALL, ASSUMED




-- --           GAS HOUSE GANG




-- --           SERVICE MEN & VEHICLES

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1920c, 1002 S Second, employees around large gas tank             WHS_005_205



Profile of Frank J. Boehm of the Wisconsin Gas & Electric Co, an associated company of The Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Co, owner of Watertown gas works.








Cross reference note:  Electric utilities were among the first to sell household appliances as a way to boost demand for this new service.  In 1929, electric power companies accounted for 35% of all appliances — more than any type of retail outlet, according to a contemporary paper in the Journal of Land & Public Utility Economics.


1920s, late




William T. Jones, retired as plant superintendent of Watertown Gas plant.  Employed for over 30 years.









     315 William St, Watertown 



                  Street view of this location 

^ Garages seen were added to front of similar garages built in 1955



07 03       E. T. HORNICKLE

When E. T. Hornickle, 211 College Avenue, closed his desk in the Gas and Electric building at Main and North Third Streets today he not only called it a day, he called it quits.  For today marked the end of his working days as Watertown district manager of the Wisconsin Electric Power Co. and the Wisconsin Natural Gas Co.  For Mr. Hornickle it marks the end of a little over 38 years with the companies.  He chalked up 38 years on June 15.  It was announced some time ago that his retirement would become effective July 1.



Ad for, 1957 City Dir, Wisconsin Natural Gas Co

Ad for, 1957 City Dir, Wisconsin Electric Power Co




The huge gas storage tank on the site of the old Watertown City Gas Co. is coming down.  No longer used, since the advent of piped-in natural gas, the Wisconsin Natural Gas Co. which now serves this area, ordered the tank removed and Loeb Salvage, Inc., Watertown is in charge.  Watertown had its first gas service in 1856 when, on May 18 of that year, the Watertown City Gas Co. began service to a list of 100 customers.  By 1903 there were 900 customers.  The first gas was used for illumination only and the first gas stoves were sold and installed here in the 1880s.





The Wisconsin Natural Gas Company is replacing old cast iron gas mains, installed in 1920-21, with welded steel gas mains on city streets.  Roger Rothschadl, Watertown, inspector for the gas company, on South Third Street



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William (Bill) Rathert, for the past 14 years district manager of the Wisconsin Electric Power Co and the Wisconsin Natural Gas Co, retired.




The 100th anniversary of electricity in Watertown will be celebrated as part of Watertown’s Old Fashioned Christmas festivities on Sunday, Dec. 3.  Electricity first came to the city on Dec. 2, 1889 when the electric lights lit up the downtown area for the first time.  Prior to that, illumination was provided by gas lamps.  To commemorate the occasion, the city’s street lights will not be lit downtown on Dec. 3 until after the annual lighting ceremony of the municipal tree on the Rock River Walkway at 5 p.m.  The lighted window displays in downtown stores will provide the only illumination until after the ceremony.  In honor of the anniversary, the Wisconsin Electric Power Co. will give away three wall-mounted outdoor lights similar in design to the lights installed on poles along the walkway.  Each of the 35-watt sodium high pressure efficiency lights has a value of about $240.




Wisconsin Electric Power Company plans to move its customer center from its longtime Main Street location to the building currently housing the Sears catalog sales outlet.


According to Jackie Hartmann, Rock River region manager for Wisconsin Electric, the utility will move into its new office at 111 N. First St. after renovations are completed by late summer.  Wisconsin Electric has operated from its present location at 216 E. Main St. since March 1, 1923.


Prior to that, the utility’s Watertown office was located at 205 E. Main St.  Hartmann said the move is designed to provide better customer service at reduced operating costs.  She noted that the office, which handles customer service for Wisconsin Electric and Wisconsin Natural Gas Company, will continue to have a downtown location.


Main, E, 216        1923-1993 (moved to 111 N. First)




Ray’s Shoes is undertaking a major renovation and expansion of its flagship retail store in downtown Watertown.   Dan Beltz, president of the firm, said the Wisconsin Electric Power Company building at Third and Main streets has been acquired and is in the process of being renovated for expansion of the shoe store which is located immediately to the west.  Initial stages of the project have started.  The common wall between the two buildings has been removed.  When the new section is opened, Beltz said the entire retail store will be redecorated under the direction of his wife, Kristin Laramie Beltz.




Site of new Public Works Facility

After a couple years of negotiations, the city has purchased the We Energies property south of the street department building on South Second Street, according to Mayor Ron Krueger.  The city closed on the purchase of the 1.5-acre parcel Tuesday at 2 p.m., Krueger said.  He added the city bought the land for $48,000.  The city is planning on using the property for street department employee parking and to house a salt shed.  City officials have been trying to obtain the land ever since it was decided that the current street department site would be used for the new public works facility, which was about two years ago.




Gas and Electric Co building, 216 E Main.  Earlier was site of Gahlmann’s Deutsches Dorf.


Terbrueggen, Joseph      1912, Obit

For about 30 years past he was a member of the brick manufacturing firm of L. H. Cordes & Co.  In 1889 he was one of a company of three who put in the electric lighting system in our city and the company later disposed of the plant. 


J. H. Sleeper, 1939-1888, was president of Watertown Gas Co.

John Koehler associated with company




Table of Contents 

History of Watertown, Wisconsin