Electricity comes to Canton

With a few weeks in 1908, Canton residents suddenly had both electricity and running water. As with the rest of the nation, Canton saw quickly evolving advancements at the turn of the century with planes, widespread use of cars, new farming methods, and of course, in-home electricity and a municipal system of water and sewage.

Electricity, running water and a sewage system were limited to the Canton city area, as some may recall. Country areas went without until decades later in some cases.

But in the last half of 1908, Canton was abuzz with the advancement of electricity. Over the course of several months, workers wired the residences and stores in town. “Ab Fincher, the clever proprietor of the Canton Telephone Co., is also wiring houses for lights. He will also be glad to figure with any who want their places wired,” one newspapers story heralding the oncoming technology read.

A few weeks later in October, a report on the progress: “The work at the power house is being fast completed and within another month, water will be flowing through the water mains.”

Then, illumination: On October 15, 1908, the switch was flipped and Canton was “lighted with brilliant electric lights.”

An account from the Cherokee Advance newspaper describes the excitement in a story from October 16 headlined “Water and Lights are now a reality; Canton is now enjoying the greatest improvements of its age”:

“Listen, do you hear running water going through the large water mains all over town? Perhaps you do not hear it, but nevertheless, water supplied by our new plant was turned into the mains Wednesday evening and our town is now protected from fire better thanit has ever been, and within a few weeks the reservoir and filter will be in place and then we can drink the pure water from the beautiful Etowah river which runs through our town.

The electric lights were a day behind the water, but on Thursday night all of a sudden that clever fellow, Mr. [W.R.] Taylor, superintendent of the construction of the plant here put the big electric switch in place at the power house which caused every light which was connected to the main wires shine brilliantly for the first time in the history of Canton.

Our citizens were lined up and down the streets gazing with delightful amazement at the greatest program in upbuilding the town has ever known.”

A few weeks later, the sewer system was beginning to take shape so that residents “may have the full convenience of the water in their homes.” And the electricity continued to awe: “Our streets present a beautiful appearance at night all brilliantly lighted with electricity and we can hear complimentary words from every tongue about the advancement our little city is making.”

Posted in 1900-1909, Daily life, Text

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