The Light House (Electrical Plant)

For most people, the term “Light House”, connotes a towering beacon along a shore – so what’s it doing in the middle of Pennsylvania? That’s the name given to the building housing the Boalsburg Electric Company that supplied electric light to the streets and houses of Boalsburg from 1914 to 1930. Most of the same men who had started the Boalsburg Water Company a few years earlier – T.D. Boal, H.C. Rothrock, W.H. Stuart, William Myers, and Dr. L.E. Kidder – met and believed that water from Galbraith Gap could be used to generate electricity so they signed an agreement with Harris Township to supply lights to the streets for $175 per annum for a period of three years. Light was to be supplied starting a half hour before sunset on clear days and one hour before sunset on cloudy days and continue until sunrise on clear days and a half hour after sunrise on cloudy days.

A pipeline was laid and the “Light House” built on land donated by William Myers, a generator was purchased from Westinghouse Company of Pittsburgh and installed. Water turned a turbine in the basement and belts coming through openings in the floor turned the generator. Lines were strung from telephone poles at first, but later a contract was made with Mr. Walker Slurtt for the setting and furnishing of poles for $3.45 per pole.

Eventually there was a demand for electricity in the homes and it was provided first on Mondays to accommodate washing and later also on Tuesday for ironing at a charge of twenty-five cents per month for individual use of each iron and washer. Apparently, homeowners could have electricity run into their homes on a trial basis because there is record of Mr. Austin Dale having light in his home for ten days and if he was not satisfied it would be removed at no cost. Meters began to be used in 1921, but those without meters were to be charged a minimum of $1 per month.

Finally on January 30, 1930, the Boalsburg Electric Company was sold to West Penn Power Company for $19,750. The Light House became part of a dwelling on Loop Road, but in 2000, through efforts by the Sweet Family and Harris Township, it was returned to its original location.