Company History:

Time to Look Back


When you reach your 100th birthday, it's natural to pause and take a look back at the ups and downs of your long journey.

Thanks are due to many people for their support through the decades: due not only to our employees, but to the entire town, as customers, advisors and friends. As Frank McMahon put it in 1945:

"The reason for this plant's success is that we have always had the help of the best businessmen in town without any cost whatever to the plant. A private corporation would have had to pay huge salaries for that guidance."

1895: More than 200 Lowell citizens petition the Common Council for more economical electric lighting of our village. The Council buys land and water rights on the Flat River; $23,000 of bonds are sold to finance a power plant.

1896: Detroit engineer H.H. Humphrey plans and supervises our first light plant; the dam is finished on June 26; the plant is dedicated September 16. Carl English is our first superintendent, at a salary of $900 a year.

1901: J.Scott Fox, a lineman, is killed instantly while trimming an arc light at Main and Hudson.

1902: Waldo Francisco becomes second superintendent, leaving four months later. Frank McMahon succeeds him.

1904: Lowell outgrows the plant's capacity. $10,000 spent on new waterwheel and generator.

1905: Belding-Hall Refrigerator Co. employees raise riverbanks and save our dam from record-breaking June floods.

1916: Farmers turn out to douse the flames as the plant burns to the ground. Cliff Hatch builds a new fireproof plant for $2,000.

1917: On New Year's Eve the new plant, undermined by quicksand, falls in the river. Owen-Ames-Kimball builds a new plant for $55,000.

1924: We add a new office building and new diesel engine. Cost: $40,000.

1929: Lowell purchases flowage rights to raise the head to 17.5 feet; a new dam is built for $68,939, with space for another wheel.

1930: Another addition, generator and waterwheel installed.

1934: In two years we sell 27 refrigerators, 35 ranges and 9 water heaters out of our office.

1942: Another engine installed; Lowell changes from two-phase to three-phase electricity for $100,000.

1946: Our 50th birthday! More growing: a new $41,000 building and another diesel engine and other equipment for $117,617.

1952: Frank J. McMahon retires after 50 years. Thomas Moore named superintendent. Fire around the stack of No. 2 diesel melts the wiring on the fire siren. $60,000 damage.

1953: Foreman Leo A. Hoover dies after contacting a 6,900-volt line.

1955: Two more diesels, originally built for submarines, are installed.

1958: Roger Westenbrook named superintendent.

1961: Jake Callier named superintendent.

1967: Jake Callier dies at age 41; John Jones named superintendent.

1970: The old dam and powerhouse in Keene Township are sold.

1979: We join the Michigan Public Power Agency, a cooperative of 18 companies which purchase power from Consumers Power coal-fired plants; no nuclear power is used.

1982: Herb Haines named superintendent.

1982: Lowell Cable is started

1992: Paul Christman named superintendent.

1996: Our 100th birthday!

1998: Ron Holcomb named General Manager

2000: Tom Richards named General Manager

2007: Lowell Cable is sold to Comcast

2008: Greg Pierce named General Manager

Lowell Light & Power

127 N. Broadway  •  Lowell, MI 49331  •  Phone: 616.897.8402  •  Fax: 616.897.4082  •  www.lowell-light.org

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