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August 16, 2011

Lighting of Sacramento

    In 1855 there were 113 customers of the Sacramento Gas Company to light their buildings and a three block area of street lights in old Sacramento; the manager of the company was also the mayor. In 1884 the advent electric lights began a bitter fight between gas and electrics vs. gas. The gas company had 1400 customers, but, progress was toward electricity and by 1895 50% of downtown Sacramento was lit by electricity, the assembly and governor's mansion and on Admission Day in 1896 the capitol was lit, and, electric street cars pulled floats with electric lights on them. By 1905 60% of Sacramento had lights, 1920 - 80%, after WWII - high 90%.

    The Bank of America in Oak Park was the end of the line for street cars, trolley car tokens made out of silver were ten cents. Trolley car tracdks were taken out in the 1960's and 70's and electrical supply lines were begun to be run underground. Some cities had as many as five electric companies, one could hardly see the sky with all the electric lines overhead, and now... reverted back to the 20's with overhead electric trains! Electricity was slow coming to Sacramento, e.g., Deadwood was all electric by 1880's.

    The first power house was built down by the rail yard and there were three other power companies at that time; there were many poles throughout the city and sometimes electric supply lines were run on the sides of buildings. Sacramento was one of the last capitol buildings electrified.

Reported by,

Brother Don "Peanut Butter" Breeland, well known Historian Extraordinaire