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Electric Service Comes to Latrobe


On February 18, 1851, Thomas Kirk sold his 140 acre farm in Derry Township to Oliver Barnes. Three years later he created this plan for the town of Latrobe.
Electric Trolley on Ligonier Street in 1940s

The electro-mechanical age from 1840 to 1940 led to ways to harness electricity for useful purposes. Life before and after was very different.

Life as we know it now with electricity provided by long distance transmission of hydro, coal, solar, wind, geothermal and nuclear power was very different before and during the early period of electricity generation.

Before the 1800s, light and heat for warmth and cooking were provided by burning a combustible substance. Water was transported manually or by gravity. Transport of people and goods relied on fuels such as wood, coal, gas, or oil.

During the 1800s, experimenters and inventors made significant advances in what we know today as the physical sciences of acoustics, electromagnetism, dynamics, mechanics, optics, and materials.

The telegraph was demonstrated in 1844, the rechargeable lead-acid battery in 1859, the telephone in 1876 and radio in 1894. All relied on the conversion of one form of primary energy into energy carriers or secondary energy, convenient forms of energy that can directly be used by society. Electricity became the main energy carrier and remains so today.

The inspiration and most of the material for this article were condensed from two sources.

Van Atta, Robert B., 50 Years At Your Service, The Origins and Development of West Penn Power Company, 1965.

Van Atta, Robert B., The Story of West Penn Power People, Progress, And Public Service, 1992


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