Pennsylvania Water & Power Company photographscirca 1916-1992 Majority of material found within 1931-1954
Pennsylvania Water & Power Company was established to store, transport, and generate water power for both commercial and manufacturing purposes. The Holtwood facility outside of Lancaster, Pennsylvania was the first power plant to have both a hydroelectric generator and a coal power generator. The company was originally called McCall’s Ferry Power Co. and founded in 1905. This small collection consists of photographs that depict the progress of several construction projects at the Holtwood and Safe Harbor plants. Most of these images date from 1951 to 1954, well after the original construction of both sites.
- circa 1916-1992
- Majority of material found within 1931-1954
- Pennsylvania Water & Power Company (Organization)
2 Linear Feet
General Physical Description
465 photographic prints : b&w ; 5 x 7 in. 417 photographic prints : b&w ; 8 x 10 in. 21 photographic prints : b&w ; 4 x 5 in. 2 photographic prints : b&w ; panoramas. 1 photographic print : color ; 16 x 20 in. mounted on foam core.
Pennsylvania Water & Power Company was established to store, transport, and generate water power for both commercial and manufacturing purposes. The Holtwood facility outside of Lancaster, Pennsylvania was the first power plant to have both a hydroelectric generator and a coal power generator. The company was originally called McCall’s Ferry Power Co. and founded in 1905.
The Holtwood Dam was built between 1905 and 1910 along the Susquehanna River, twenty-five miles upstream of the Chesapeake Bay. The original name was the McCalls Ferry Dam. The name was changed to honor two financiers who helped complete the project after the 1907 financial panic in the United States caused the company to default on their bonds. At this time the dam, powerhouse and railroad yard were only partially finished. The company reached out to John E. Aldred (1864-1945) a hydroelectric industry pioneer and entrepreneur for help. Aldred was the president of Shawinigan Falls Power Co. in Canada and president of Consolidated Gas, Electric Light and Power Company in Baltimore. Aldred partnered with Sir Herbert S. Holt (1856-1941), president of Montreal Light, Heat & Power Company, and Edward R. Wood (1866-1941), vice president of Toronto Securities. The company was reorganized as Pennsylvania Water & Power Company. The dam was renamed Holtwood and the reservoir was named Lake Aldred.
John Abbet Walls (187?-195?) was the chief engineer and later president of the Pennsylvania Water and Power Company. As chief engineer he oversaw the construction of the dams. A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Walls worked for Aldred at the Shawinigan Falls Power Co. as assistant engineer in 1901.
In 1925 a coal fired steam electric station was built next to the hydroelectric plant. From 1925 until 1973 the plant burned coal that was dredged from the river.
To meet the needs of the growing industrial use of electric power, a second dam was built located thirty-two miles upstream from the Chesapeake Bay. Construction on the Safe Harbor Dam began in 1929 and by 1931 power was being generated and delivered. The reservoir, Lake Clarke extends nine and half miles upstream near Columbia, Pennsylvania. Sand and coal were dredged from the lake each year between 1954 and 1972.
The Safe Harbor Dam was co-owned by Consolidated Gas Electric Light and Power Company, which owned two thirds of the company. In 1955 Pennsylvania Power & Light (PP&L) acquired Pennsylvania Water and Power Company. With this purchase PP&L now became owner of the Holtwood Dam and one third owner of the Safe Harbor Dam. PP&L changed it’s name to PPL Corporation in 2000.
This collection is arranged in chronological order. The original order of the photographs within all of the albums has been maintained. The albums photographs are in chronological order, except for the two volume set which does not have a discernable order but appears to be deliberate.
Scope and Content
This small collection consists of photographs that depict the progress of several construction projects at the Holtwood and Safe Harbor plants. Most of these images date from 1951 to 1954, well after the original construction of both sites.
There are two albums and several loose pages containing two photographs on a page. The albums have been disbound for conservation purposes. The photographs show the construction of the coal unloading dock and dredging equipment at Safe Harbor.
The coal unloading dock photographs depict the construction of the unloader, abutment for bridge, counterweight guides, septic tanks, unloader bins, raw silt bunker, cell bracing, transporting cell patterns, and anchors for mooring rings for dock cells. There are images after the construction is completed (or nearly complete) that show the unloading of 800 ton barges.
The photographs of dredging equipment show the assembly of the dredge, the hull unloading engine, and installation of the dredging ladder and spud frame. There are images of a generator, lifting engine, dredge suction inlet, tugboat, rudders, propellers, storage tanks, bilge pump, a cutting head, main hoist, and main silt pump. This set of photographs also includes views of a barge launching, a tugboat launching, the removing of barge from a railroad car, a pump rate test, engine room interiors, operator’s controls, switchboard, and motor control center.
There are a number of aerial photographs of the Safe Harbor coal plant. And a set of photographs of an exhibit called Help Keep America Green.
There are three albums of the Holtwood Steam Electric Station. These albums have been disbound for conservation purposes. Although all three albums contain photographs of the same construction project it is two different sets of images; one solo album and a volume one and two set. Some of the images in the solo album are also contained in the other two albums. The two volume set contains type written captions on the back of every photograph. The albums and captions seem to have been created in 1954, though the images themselves date from 1952 to 1954.
The photographs are of the Holtwood Steam Electric Station extension which was built between 1952 and 1954. These images depict the construction of the raw coal conveyor, coal transfer house, pulverizing mill, turbine room, boiler room and condensate storage tank. Shown are the driving timber for piling, support silo for coal storage conveyor, conveyor envelop, the conduit, steel erection, foundation, reinforcement, piping, track hopper, generator pedestal, furnace bottom ash basin, and sump pumps. There are views of the coal storage area, conduit for station transformer, the encasing of the “korduct” conduit, coal transfer tower and conveyor. There are overall aerial views as well as specific aerial shots of the fly ash disposal area.
There are a few photographs from September 1931 that show a grounding reactor for a york circuit at Holtwood, the “new” ice boom, and transmission lines at Safe Harbor. There are two photographs of a room crane taken in 1939. There is one image from 1992 that is an aerial photograph of the Holtwood plant.
There are images from two inspection trips, one to the Shawinigan Water and Power Company and the Safe Harbor plant. These show group portraits and snapshots of the board of directors and views of the plants. There are also a number of high-elevation aerial views of farmlands, as well as views of farm buildings and fields. There are exteriors and interior images of the Baltimore Electro Alloys Co. plant, scenes along the Susquehanna River, views of the River Coal Storage at Holtwood and a few group portraits of watchmen at the Safe Harbor Water Power Corp.
This collection is open for research.
Language of Materials
These photographs come from the files of John A. Walls, chief engineer and president of Pennsylvania Water & Power Company.
Pennsylvania Water & Power Company records (Accession 2627), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.
Five albums in this collection were disbound for preservation of the photographs contained within the albums. The album covers did not contain any informational or aesthetic value and were not retained.
- Pennsylvania Water & Power Company (Organization)
- PPL Holtwood, LLC (Organization)
Finding Aid & Administrative Information
- Pennsylvania Water & Power Company photographs
- Laurie Rizzo
- Description rules:
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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