Electricity from the Fox: A Pioneering Moment

Photographed March 14, 2015
Appleton, Outagamie County, Wisconsin
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A Pioneering Moment
In 1882, events along Appleton's riverfront made history. For the first time, a hydroelectric central power station using the Thomas A. Edison system successfully began operating. This new system provided electric light to three buildings at once. The idea for this central station came from Henry Rogers, who managed the Appleton Paper and Pulp Mill. Rogers purchased a Type-K dynamo and installed it in the company's beater room. By harnessing the water power of the Fox River, the dynamo provided light to Appleton Paper and Pulp Mill, Kimberly-Clark's Vulcan Paper Mill, and H.J. Rogers' own family residence. This powerful innovation introduced a new method for lighting the nation's homes and businesses.
The marker is located adjacent to the Fox River at Vulcan Heritage Park, located at 535 West Water Street, Appleton, Wisconsin 54911.

Henry Rogers and his investors quickly took advantage of their successful experiment at the Appleton Paper and Pulp Mill by opening the nation's first commercial Edison hydroelectric station two months later on Vulcan Street. The map and postcard image above show where these historic buildings were once located on the Vulcan Heritage Park site. You are standing where a canal used to run behind the mills. The stone walls you see below are the old foundation of the Appleton Paper and Pulp Mill.
Above: H.J. Rogers' home, now known as Hearthstone Historic House Museum, is located on the bluff above the park. In 1882 it became the first home in the world to be lit by hydroelectric central power station using the Edison system. Visitors to this beautifully restored historic home can view the original light fixtures (right) as well as a series of exhibits highlighting the home's and the riverfront's rich past.

From this marker, follow the pathway to fantastic views
(above and below) of the Fox River.

View of H.J. Rogers' home, now known as Hearthstone Historic House Museum, from Vulcan Park.
The marker is one of six placed along this walkway.

The marker is located at Vulcan Heritage Park.

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