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Washington County, Illinois

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Nashville Electric Light Company
Postcard; Ice & Electric Plant, Nashville, Illinois
1914 Postcard photo of Ice & Electric Palant, Nashville, Illinois
      The history of electricity in Nashville dates back to 1899. The first electricity was furnished to Nashville on a dusk to dawn basis by a home owned plant operated by C. M. Forman of East St. Louis. The electric plant was located on the property, now owned by Venice Brink, which lay due west of the Greenwood Cemetery. The plant was purchased in 1905 by Karl A. Steinhauser who had come to Nashville in 1904 from Craig, Mo. to be head miller at the old Camp Spring Mill operated by H. H. Cordes. The plant, having operated at a loss for six years, was in a state of bankruptcy at the time of the purchase. Having built and established a complete lighting system for Craig, Mo., it was only natural that the plant would expand under Mr. Steinnauser's ownership.
Miscellaneous "Correstions" entry in
Washington County Historical Society's early publication Looking Back :
      In the article about the Nashville Electric Light Co., it was called to our attention that a Mr. Peebles at one time operated the light company. Whether this was before C.E. Forman or after, we are not certain. It was also called to our attention that Mr. Peebles at one time owned the only automobile in Nashville. Another employee of the company for years was Mr. Hassebrook, the father of Elm Hassebrook.
      Most of the streets in Nashville were lit with arc lights and quite a few of the businesses had electricity. In 1906 ten houses were wired for electricity by K.A. and his son Carl. This was the beginning of residential lighting and the beginning of 24 hour electrical service for a flat rate. In 1908 a used steam engine was purchased from the Anna State Hospital and a three ton ice plant was added to the business. Ice was delivered to all the nearby communities. As the business prospered, a new modern electric plant and distribution system, and a new twelve ton ice plant was built in 1912. Also in 1912, a 6900 volt transmission line on steel polls was built to Addieville, Hoyleton, and Ashley. The lines generally followed the railroads. New homes being built at that time were generally wired in anticipation of electrical service for those communities. 1906 Electricity Advertisement
Advertisement in :
The Nashville Democrat, Nashville, Illinois, August 12, 1906
      In 1914 an ice cream plant was added and ice cream was delivered as far as St. Genevieve, Mo. and Chester, Ill. The ice cream plant was sold to the Lorenz Bros. in 1917. The grounds also contained a beautiful lake and boating and eating ice cream were popular Sunday afternoon activities.
Postcard of Carlsbad Lake, Nashville, Illinois
Carlsbad Lake, Nashville, Illinois

      In addition to "K.A." and his son Carl, other company personnel were Bert Hale and Walt Reidelberger, Lineman; My. Torbeck, chief engineer; Ed. Maschoff, 2nd. Engineer; and a Mr. Stoker, 3rd. engineer. The company office was located on Main Street two doors east of Ahlf's Store. Ann Steinhauser was the bookkeeper and later Irene Meyer was employed to help with the cumbersome job.
      With the growth of the use of electricity, consolidation of plants for more efficient operation was the order of the day. In 1916 the Nashville Electric Light Company became part of the Saline Electric Company and K.A. Steinhauser served Nashville as its first local manager. The Saline Electric Company became the Southern Illinois Light and Power Company; later the company became the Southern Illinois Power Company, then Illinois-Iowa Power Co., and finally part of Illinois Power Company.
      Mr. Steinhauser retired from active duty as local manager in 1941. At the time the Nashville Electric Light Company was sold, electricity was furnished to residential customers for $1.50 for 16 candle power lamps.
Courtesy of Jo House
(by Mary Ann Bohbrink, dates supplied by Carl Steinhauser.
Source found at C.E. Brehm Memorial Public Library, Mt. Vernon, IL)

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