Elk River Power

The circa 1912 photograph shows the Elk River Power Company.

Q: Do you have any information on the photo that shows a covered bridge and a dam?

A: This circa 1912 photograph shows the Elk River, Heat, Light & Power Company, a small utility company that produced electricity for Newark, DE. As start-up companies started harnessing the power of Cecil County’s waterways to commercially produce current, a few small hydroelectric generating stations were established. George Reynolds researched early electrification here in an article for a 1995 issue of the Historical Society newsletter. He wrote that Elk River Light, Heat, and Power Company plant was built in 1909 by Benjamin F. Groff, the same engineer who built the Gilpin Falls Plant. It was located on the Big Elk Creek between Elk Mills and Cowentown at the former Park and Smith Rolling Mill. The plant, housing a water turbine connected to an electrical generator, delivered electricity from dusk to dawn to the Newark Municipal Plant in 1912. The Chester County Lighting Company had a dam on White Clay Creek, and the Pennsylvania enterprise leased this company, connecting it with their network, which eventually served eleven villages and towns. One of the county’s many covered bridges spans the Big Elk Creek north of Elk Mills at this point, too.

— Mike Dixon

Do you have a question about Cecil County that the Historical Society of Cecil County’s panel of experts might be able to answer? Send them to history@cecilwhig.com.

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