And Let there be Lights

It maybe hard to imagine a time im Mackay when electricity wasn't available, when homes and businesses were lighted with gas or oil lamps, and when most electric appliances were yet to be invented. The year of 1908 was just a time for those living within the generated there on site, but none for the town. That was soon to change according to the June 5, 1908 issue of the Mackay Miner.

A group of investors formed the Lost River Light and Power Co. and planned to harness the water flow of Cedar Creek 2 miles above the town to the North with a hydroelectric power plant and furnish residents and businesses of Mackay with its first electricity. Completion was promised by year's end, however only a small amount of progress was made and, though records for 1909 are unavailable, the company and the project were evidently dissolved.

But, early in 1910, a new group, headed by a Henry Diers, was awarded a contract by the village fathers to revive the project. They sold stock, solicited bids for plant equipment, and signed a contract with a prominent Utah engineering firm to construct the dam/ reservoir and power generating plant plant at the creek site and to bring the power down the hill to town.

By October of 1910 significant progress had ben made, including erection of the power poles to town and the stinging of wire, but with the advent of winter, further work was put on hold until the next spring. No records are available for 1911, but it is evident that progress on the power plant was slow, for it wasn't until March of 1912 that the plant was officially put on line and electrical current flowed down the hill from Cedar Creek to the homes and businesses of Mackay, Ads immediately appeared in the "Miner", such as those below, touting the benefits of electricity.

" Electric light-- cheaper than gas or oil and no work!"
(1) 50 watt light-- 85 cents/mo.-- Additional 60 cents/ mo.
"homes lighted & your ironing done by electricity-- $1.60 / mo."

By August of that same year, Mackay was bragging of its street lamps that were up and lighting up Main Street and that it may well be the only town of its size to have electric lights. The economic benefits of this power system were soon realized, too when a very modern flour mill was built in Mackay the same year utilizing electric power to turn its 75 h.p. electric motor driven mill.

Note: Details of the power plant are available from the South Custer Historical Society-- your "history connection".


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