World's First Hydro-Electric Central Station

Photographed November 14, 2014
Erected 1933 by Appleton Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution
Appleton, Outagamie County, Wisconsin
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Near this site the
was erected in 1882

The Vulcan Street Plant is located on the east bank of the Fox River, at the intersection of South Vulcan Street and North Island Street, Appleton, Wisconsin 54915.

The following pages on the history of the Vulcan Street Plant have been taken from a Wisconsin Michigan Power Company Souvenir Booklet commemorating the 50th anniversary of the plant in 1932. Contemporary records showed that it was the world’s first hydro-electric central station, and began operating only 26 days after Thomas Edison’s first steam plant began operating on Pearl Street in New York, September 4, 1882.

Since then, records have been found which indicate that the Vulcan Street Plant may not be the world’s first hydro-electric central station, and may not be, in fact, the first hydro-electric central station in the United States. But it is the first Edison hydro-electric central station to serve a system of private and commercial customers in North America. The story of its development provides keen insight into the nation’s first experiences with the electric light.
The marker is at the top of the stairs, to the left of the entrance.

View of the Fox River from the marker location.

 The Vulcan Street Central Station is adjacent to Neenah Paper.

The marker is located at the end of this street (South Vulcan Street).

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