Stuart, Iowa


Stuart. Iowa's first switchboard after change to alternating current.

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Electrical energy was being put to new uses. In 1912 the plant started operating for 24 hours a day, for two days a week and later continuously. The first 'engineers' or operators received $35 to $50 per month. Later, after the plant started continuous operation the two firemen working 12 hours a day, seven days a week received $75 to $100 per month. The first light rates charged by the Stuart plant were not found. But the schedule set up on August 25, 1890 by the nearby Town of Greenfield, Iowa for their plant which was built about the same time was as follows:


50(cent for each 16 candlepower lamp per month

$1.00 for each 32 candlepower lamp per month


One 16 candlepower lamp per month, 50cent

Two 16 candlepower lamps per month, 40cent each

Three 16 candlepower lamps per month, 33 and one third cents each

All lamps in excess of three to be 30cent each per month. Town to furnish first set of lamps only.


2cent per night for each lamp per month

Lodges and Halls

3cent per night for each lamp per month Town to furnish renewals.

The load continued to grow. As the load grew and the length of the lines increased, it was becoming impossible to maintain adequate voltage at the ends of the lines. On May 4, 1927 a contract was signed with Fairbanks-Morse & Co. for a 90 Kw., 2400 volt, 3 phase, 60 cycle, two cylinder Diesel engine generator set and a 135 Kw., three cylinder Diesel unit and the system was changed to alternating current.

The load on the plant grew rapidly through the following years. New Diesel units were added from time to time. The plant now consists of a 200 Kw. unit installed in 1938, a five cylinder unit, a six cylinder opposed piston unit and two ten cylinder, 1,130 KW. units, the last installed in 1970.

Stuart's Centennial parade lasted an hour and fifty minutes and was one of the highlights of the event. There were several fire departments from the neighboring towns with some of their equipment represented in the parade.

In 1884 the Stuart Fire Department bought a Silsby Steam Fire Engine with all exposed metal heavily nickle plated. A determined effort was made to locate the engine but without success. However a similar engine was found in Chariton, Iowa. They brought their engine and since they had it steamed up, it was a popular item in the parade. Later they demonstrated its pumping ability. These engines could and did throw water through a one inch nozzle over the Stuart Masonic Temple, a three story building plus the clock tower. Both engine and pump are of the gear type.