Friday, March 12, 2010
Waukegan Power Plant
The Waukegan Power Plant is located a mile north of Waukegan on the Lake Michigan lakeshore. It is a coal burning electric generating facility operated by the Integrys Energy Group.
EJ&E Railroad engine 703 (above) leads a UP coal train to the Waukegan Power Plant photographed by Jeff Easton in 2007 and posted on Railroadforums.com
Until recently, fishermen were allowed to use the pier near the plant. The power plant uses water from Lake Michigan to cool the steam used in the generating process. The water is returned to the lake via a discharge channel, and is warmer than the lake water, which in turn attracts fish. There are now "no fishing" signs posted.
The county's first electric generating coal plant was the Waukegan Electric Light Company. It was founded by Michael Hussey about 1905. Hussey was known as the coal baron of northern Illinois in those early years of the 20th century.
North Shore Electric Company linemen, 1906 (above). At this time, electric service was available only to people in towns, and generally from dusk to dawn. Front row: Bob Jenkinson, Charlie Kreuser, John Riddle (Zion), George Hecksweiler, C. Voss; Back row: Mr. Brooks (Zion), George Jenkinson (Waukegan), Dennis Murphy (Waukegan)
In 1923, Hussey’s company was bought out by Samuel Insull’s Public Service Company of Northern Illinois.
In the early teens, Insull set about revolutionizing the availability of electric service. Lake County was his home base and where he set his plans in motion by buying out small, independent power plants. He ran transmission lines and centralized the service, and was able to provide 24-hour electric service to thousands of homes and farms. (Samuel Insull, right)
The Public Service Company of Northern Illinois became Commonwealth Edison, and then Exelon. Several years ago Exelon sold the Waukegan power plant to the Integrys Energy Group.
In 2007, the museum received a donation of nearly 60 photographs of the Waukegan Power Plant from a private donor. The photos are of plant employees in their daily tasks, posing candidly for the camera, and date from the 1930s to 1970s. (Power plant workers, circa 1935 - BBDM 2007.12)
(W. McCoy at one of the control panels, circa 1970 - BBDM 2007.12)
The images are remarkable because they document the power plant's workforce. Most candid photographs tend to be taken of people on vacation or at special events and gatherings. It is far less common for people to take photographs at work, making this collection all the more fascinating.
(Herman Genkinger and Richard "Red" Mathews, 1950 - BBDM 2007.12)
Safety award, 1960. From left to right: Vern Stone, Joe Shrank, Murray Joslyn, L. Stang, A. Johnson, George Kreu, P. Root, Bob Lundberg, H. Otto, and K. Leisner - BBDM 2007.12.