In the early 1890s, Rochester's population numbered just several thousand. Kerosene and oil street lamps had lighted the city’s main thoroughfares since the mid 1870s. But times were changing and the city was beginning to grow. By the late 1880s the City Council had seen and heard of the electrical power generated by municipally owned plants. Motivated by the need for safely lit streets and reliable electrical service, in 1892 the City Council (after several rancorous meetings) sanctioned the construction of Rochester's first public utility: an electric lighting plant measuring just 27 by 72 feet. After this plant burned down in October 1915, the dim working conditions and rough floor boards were replaced by the new plant construction on North Broadway.
The generator was turned by a belt from the enormous flywheel. To start the 16-ton flywheel for the steam engine, plant workers sometimes had to insert a long heavy bar into a hole on the wheel and manually crank the wheel to a position where the steam engine drive arm could move it.
Rochester Public Utilities Commission
4000 East River Road NE
Rochester,, MN 55906