Electricity Comes to Woodbury

electricity comes to woodbury

On June 13, 1918, at a meeting held in a granary, sixteen farmers organized a company to bring electricity to Woodbury. They elected officers and a motion was made and carried that each member put in $50. They named themselves Woodbury Light and Power.

They moved fast. At the next meeting on June 22, a motion was made to “get bids on wire and order same”. By the August 22 meeting each of the original members had contributed $250 for supplies and equipment. They paid out $2832 for over 250 cedar poles and 6500 pounds of wire, and in November signed a contract with Northern States Power Co to furnish electricity, connecting with it at the Cottage Grove town line.

The member farmers constructed the power line themselves and R.A. McHattie served as the first lineman for the company. The line ran north on Tower Drive (now Radio Drive) to Bailey Road, then turned east for 3 miles. It’s almost inconceivable that the farmers had the time and energy to milk their herds, till their fields, and also build an electric line.

On August 19, electricity was turned on for the first time in Woodbury.

In 1921 a group of farmers to the west and north of the original line formed another company and constructed a line west from Tower and Bailey to Woodlane Drive, then north to the Woodbury Methodist Church, and west to the Ramsey county line. By 1930, extensions to both power lines had brought electricity to approximately 90 farmers in Woodbury.

In 1930 the local lines were sold by mutual consent of the users to Northern States Power for $38,350 and the company assumed responsibility for the operation of the lines. A large portion of Woodbury had electricity before many other rural communities, thanks to the farmer-owned power companies.

Along with electricity came progress in the quality of life – and productivity. The first electric milking machines appeared in 1919 and electric refrigerators changed the kitchen in the late 1920s. The power lines turned on the lights in homes, one-room schoolhouses, and churches.