Pennsylvania Power & Light Company photographsCreation: 1920-1973
The Pennsylvania Power & Light Co. is an energy utility and transmission distributer based in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Arising from a business merger, the company was founded on June 4, 1920, and soon after began providing energy to eastern and central Pennsylvania. Renamed PP&L Corporation circa 1995, the company continues to operate as an energy provider within northeastern Pennsylvania. The collection consists primarily of photographs that depict sites of various PP&L subsidiaries and those directly operated by the company. It is a resource that can be used for insight into PP&L's early operations and eastern and central Pennsylvania industrial development. Images within this collection range from 1920 to 1973. Researchers interested in electric power transmission and its development within the state of Pennsylvania would find this collection useful.
- Creation: 1920-1973
- Pennsylvania Power & Light Company (Organization)
12 Linear Feet
2783 photographic prints: b&w ; 8 x 10 in. or smaller. 478 transparencies: color ; 8 x 10 in. or smaller. 289 negatives: b&w ; 8 x 10 in. or smaller 248 envelopes. 16 items. 30 slides : color ; 35 mm. 20 sound discs : analog. 8 albums: black plastic ; 8.5 x 11 in. (closed). Containing 307 photographic prints: b&w ; 8 x 10 in. 5 transparencies : b&w ; 7 x 10 in. or smaller 3 reels (38 in.): si.,color ; 35 mm. 1 album: brown cardboard and black fabric ; 11 x 13 in. (closed). Containing 235 photographic prints : b&w ; 4 x 5 in. Containing 32 photographic prints: b&w 8 x 10 in. 1 photographic print: color ; 8 x 10 in. 1 sound tape reel : 7.5 ips.
The Pennsylvania Power & Light Company (PP&L) is an energy utility and distributor based in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The company was formed on June 4, 1920, through the consolidation of eight electric utility companies serving central and eastern Pennsylvania. Renamed PPL Corporation circa 1995, the company continues to operate as an energy provider within northeastern Pennsylvania.
After the First World War ended, central-eastern Pennsylvania’s demand for power continued to grow. The cement, steel, anthracite mining, and other industries became PP&L’s primary customers after the company’s formation in 1920. In addition, the company embarked on a rural electrification program in the 1920s to supply electricity to farms, households, and other businesses in the Pennsylvania countryside; shortly thereafter, the company served about 78,000 customers. In 1926, PP&L built Lake Wallenpaupack on the Wayne-Pike County line to store water for the company’s 44,000-kW hydroelectric plant located on the bank of the Lackawaxen River. Upholding its distinction as the world’s largest user of anthracite, PP&L opened the Sunbury Steam Electric Station in 1949.
PP&L continued its steady growth in the post-war years, opening the Martins Creek Steam Electric Station in 1954 along the Delaware River. It was the first system to use the outdoor design, thereby eliminating the standard building that housed the turbine generation in earlier plants. In the following year, PP&L acquired the Pennsylvania Water & Power Company and, with it, the Holtwood hydro and steam electric generating plants on the Susquehanna River. Additionally, PP&L acquired a one-third interest in the Safe Harbor Water Power Corporation. Expansion continued when PP&L acquired the Scranton Electric Company in 1956, thus greatly expanding its service area by 500 square miles and 95,000 customers.
In the 1960s, PP&L opened the Brunner Island Steam Electric Station in York County and the Keystone power plant in Armstrong County. These plants’ massive generating power pushed PP&L to invest in its own unit coal trains in 1964, leasing its first fleet from the Pennsylvania Railroad. PP&L was one of the railroad’s largest coal customers. Upon its transition from burning anthracite to bituminous coal, PP&L bought its entire output of bituminous coal to be transported in these unit cars and ultimately purchased its own 1,000-car fleet. Eventually, the company used the output of five of its own coal mines as well as the output from other companies’ mines.
Throughout the 1970s, PP&L adapted to new movements such as consumer activism and environmentalism. The company formed a citizens’ task force, which later set the stage for public participation in site selection for substation and transmission facilities, as well as land use policies. In 1972, the company opened the Montour Preserve, which incorporated educational facilities for classes, workshops, and school field trips. PP&L also helped boost its public image by cooperating with contractors in building a small amount of energy-efficient homes using heat exchangers and solar energy. At Brunner Island, the company began fish farming and, in Hazelton, Pennsylvania, even tried wind as a potential energy source by constructing a wind-driven generator.
Scope and Contents
The collection consists primarily of photographs that depict sites of various PP&L subsidiaries and those directly operated by the company. It is a resource that can be used for insight into PP&L's early operations and eastern and central Pennsylvania industrial development. Images within this collection range from 1920 to 1973. Researchers interested in electric power transmission and its development within the state of Pennsylvania would find this collection useful.
The collection is arranged into three series: PP&L subsidiaries, Company activities, and Employees and facilities.
The PP&L subsidiaries series is comprised of images of railroad facilities and structures such as bridges, stations, and office buildings operated by PP&L subsidiary companies. The series is arranged into thirteen subseries in alphabetical order by company name. Companies shown include: Allied Chemical and Dye, Bartlett Division; Bundy Tubing Company; Corbis Manufacturing Company; Durkee Famous Foods; Foster-Wheeler Corporation; R.T. French Company; Hamilton Watch Company; Harrisburg Steel Company, Biordi plant; Hoffman Industries; Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation; Keystone Pipeline Company; Lehigh Navigation Coal Company; Mack Manufacturing Company; Magee Carpet Company; Merck and Company; Metropolitan Wire Goods; Piper Cub Aircraft; Pillsbury Mills; Schick Company; Steelex Corporation; Thompson Products. (NOTE: many of these only show plant exteriors.) All subseries include the original envelopes the photographs were removed from for preservation purposes. Envelopes were retained for image identification. The images date from 1920 to 1953, and a majority of the images are dated 1926.
The Company activities series is organized into four subseries: Annual reports, Events and meetings, Principal items of property, and Projects and stations. All subseries are arranged in alphabetical order.
The Annual reports subseries consists of photographic prints taken from Pennsylvania Power & Light annual reports from 1949 to 1958. These include views of power stations and images illustrating electric use (industrial and residential) in central Pennsylvania. The images also show company activities such as facility operations, construction projects, and shareholder events. Some years include the published annual report. There are also photograph use permission release forms.
Events and meetings subseries include the directors' tour of 1954, shareowners' meetings, and 40th-anniversary celebrations, which took place in 1960. There are also images and sound recordings from the 1964 New York World's Fair.
The Principal items of property subseries contains eight albums, "Principal Items of Property," of the Pennsylvania Power & Light Company presented as evidence before the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission in 1943. These photographic prints include views of power plants (Stanton, Bennett, Hauto, Harwood, Pine Grove, Kulpmont, Good Spring, Lykens, Millersburg, Cedar, Walnut, South Milton, Williamsport, Lock Haven), transmission lines, substations (Siegfried, Wallenpaupack, Freemansburg, Allentown, Cherry Hill, Wilkes-Barre, Frackville, Exchange, Fishbach, Shenandoah, Greenwood, Harrisburg, Carlisle, Engleside, Donegal, Berwick, Danville, Northumberland) and general buildings (including service depots).
The Projects and stations subseries include brush cutting, quarry stripping, the construction of general buildings and transmission lines, and the implementation of electricity for daily operations within a dairy farm. Images of stations within this series include those of Holtwood hydro station and Safe Harbor Water Power Corporation hydroelectric development. Materials date from 1926 to 1966.
The Employees and facilities series is organized into three subseries: Facilities, assorted; PP&L employees; and PP&L facilities. All subseries are arranged in alphabetical order.
Facilities, assorted subseries are images of a parking garage, a textile factory, a farm, and other non-PP&L facilities. Most of the images are undated. One image of a man in a hospital bed dates around 1950.
PP&L employees subseries include machinists, linemen, chemists, kitchen staff, and the secretary. There is a portrait of company president Charles Oakes. Images date from 1950 to 1956.
PP&L facilities subseries images include a system operator's office circa 1972 and the Allentown general office in 1958. One unidentified image dates from around 1923.
Litigators may not view the collection without approval.
Negatives/Slides/Film material (Boxes 14-18) are located in remote storage. Please contact staff 48 hours in advance of research visit at firstname.lastname@example.org
Language of Materials
On Deposit from Pennsylvania Power & Light Company.
Pennsylvania Power & Light Company records (Accession 1962), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.
Pennsylvania Power & Light Company predecessor and subsidiary companies records (Accession 1552), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.
Finding Aid & Administrative Information
- Pennsylvania Power & Light Company photographs
- Taylor Stammler; Historical note by Andrew Engel
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