Stuart, Iowa

By Staff
1 / 7
Stuart. Iowa's first switchboard after change to alternating current.
2 / 7
The present switchboard at the Light Plant.
3 / 7
One of first Baldwin compound steam locomotives, similar to engines used on Rock Island Railroad at that time. Notice the link and pin coupler.
4 / 7
Silsby Steam Fire Engine, owned by Chariton, Iowa Fire Department and shown in Stuart Centennial Parade.
5 / 7
The interior of the Town Clock Tower. Drive from below to four sets of hands.
6 / 7
The Town Clock works made by Seth Thomas Clock Co., Thomaston, Connecticut in 1894. Bell was cast by the Shane Bell Foundry, Henry McShane & Co. Baltimore, Maryland in 1894.
7 / 7
Clock in the Masonic Temple, Stuart, Iowa - built in 1894.

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

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

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.

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment