Kansas Power Co. Plant Then and Now

709 W Locust [Santa Fe] (Trail) Street

There is nothing I can tell you about this building that can’t be found in the Kansas Register of Historic Places documents, which are the most detailed I’ve ever seen for historic buildings. The nomination form gives an exhaustive history of the plant as well as the evolution of the power companies in Dodge City. The inventory includes interior photos as well as some historical shots. It’s definitely worth your time to scan through all of the materials.

This building was right next door to the Water Department building that was recently destroyed by a fire. I’ve always thought it had a neat style but I didn’t know anything about it. Since the research has already been done for me, I focused mostly on newspaper articles and advertisements. I’ve also included links to the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps that are available online so you can zoom in and take a look at the changes to the plant buildings and the surrounding area over time.

Ordinance No. 100 granted franchise and the exclusive rights to light the new city to Dodge City Incandescent Electric Light Co.

The Dodge City Democrat, May 15, 1886
The Dodge City Times, June 3, 1886
The Dodge City Democrat, June 5, 1886

This next piece is amazing. Think about how quickly this all came together. The Wickedest Town in the West was pretty damned modern! Also, in case you didn’t know, the word “dynamo” wasn’t being used as a descriptor; it was a generator.

The Globe Live Stock Journal, August 24, 1886

The 1887 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map shows the facility on Walnut (Gunsmoke) Street between First and Second Avenues.

The 1905 Sanborn Map shows the Midland Water, Light, and Ice Co. building on what was then called Locust Street.

The town was growing and it quickly became clear that expansion would be necessary.

The Globe-Republican, September 19, 1907

It seems like a lot was going on in that one plant but the company was also selling all sorts of electric contraptions that facilitated the sale of more electricity.

The Dodge City Kansas Journal, May 7, 1909
The Dodge City Kansas Journal, August 27, 1909
The Dodge City Kansas Journal, October 8, 1909

There were disagreements between the Company and the City (and the citizens, apparently) about pricing, costs of infrastructure improvements, and the service expectations. A split was inevitable, leaving the City to handle the Waterworks.

The Wichita Eagle, January 21, 1910

The timing made me laugh. Of *course* no expense would be spared once the Waterworks could be spun off to the City. I’m not even mad at him. That was good maneuvering!

The Dodge City Kansas Journal, August 5, 1910

The 1911 Sanborn Map shows the new plant next door to the Waterworks facility on Santa Fe Trail Street.

The Dodge City Daily Globe, March 23, 1912

Dodge City residents were hooked and more expansion was required.

The Dodge City Daily Globe, March 13, 1913

The Dodge City Daily Globe, August 4, 1913

The 1918 Sanborn Map shows the expanded facility.

Some of the advertising was gag-worthy but whatever. Also notable was the latest name change.

The Dodge City Journal, October 7, 1920
The Dodge City Journal, September 22, 1921
The Dodge City Journal, October 5, 1922

I would have preferred the electric train, thank you very little.

The Dodge City Journal, September 27, 1923
The Dodge City Journal, January 24, 1924
The Dodge City Journal, April 3, 1924

Things started getting very corporate in 1925 and that trend continued for pretty much the rest of the 20th Century.

The Hutchinson News, April 9, 1925
The Southwest News, January 21, 1926

The 1926 Sanborn Map shows further expansion of the plant.

The folks at the City didn’t like the deal they were getting on electricity from their new corporate overlords.

That certainly didn’t take long.

The Hutchinson News, May 30, 1927
The Ford Progress, March 29, 1929
The Dodge City Journal, December 11, 1930

1932 was when the Trail Street plant became a backup.

The Ford Progress, April 17, 1931

Dodge City’s Diamond Jubilee Souvenir, May 1947

The Trail plant continued to be a backup until 1996. I had forgotten about Centel and all of the wild mergers and acquisitions in the 1980s and ’90s. You’re so lucky to have Victory Electric now. I just remember shitty service and rates that fluctuated like crazy during those regulatory fights.

Here are some photos I took before I knew anything about the building’s history:

Next time, I’ll take a look at the Rath & Bainbridge Drug Store. This one was a reader request so if there’s a building or landmark you would like to know more about, feel free to send me a message and I’ll see what I can do!

If you like what you see, be sure to subscribe (way at the bottom of the post on mobile devices) to receive an email each time a new post is published and share on social media. You can also buy me a cup of coffee using the donation form. Thanks for reading!

Donation

Your support keeps the caffeine flowing! Make a one-time donation. Your contribution is appreciated!

$5.00

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: