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The village of Power, West Virginia, is located on the Ohio River about 8 miles north of Wheeling and 6 miles south of Wellsburg. It came into being as a result of a power plant which was being built in the vicinity.
Construction of this plant began in 1915. A large building was hastily put up to house the first group of workers. The first section of the power plant consisted of two units each producing 30,000 kilowatts of power. Boilers supplied steam to these Turbo-generators at 50-pound pressure and a total temperature of 624 degrees Fahrenheit.
Homes for the workers were put together hastily from army barracks. They were four and five room homes. Most had two bedrooms and the other rooms were used as kitchen and living/dining rooms to suit the needs or wants of the occupants.
The second phase of construction consisted of two Turbo-generators units also with 30,000 kilowatts capacity each, bringing the plant capacity to 120,000 kilowatts.
The third phase of construction in 1932 consisted of installing two more 30,000 kilowatts units, bringing the plant capacity to 180,000 kilowatts.
When the first two units were placed in operation in 1917, a 132,000 volt transmission line was constructed to transmit power to Canton, Ohio, to supply energy to homes and industrial use in that area. This was the first long distance transmission of power at the 132,000 volts. With the expansion of the plant from 1917 to 1932 additional transmission lines of 66,000 volts and 132,000 volts were constructed to dispose of the power to surrounding areas and interconnect with some surrounding utilities.
The coal for use in the plant came from Windsor Power Coal Mine located across Rt 2 from the Power plant. The coal was conveyed in mine cars to stop 39, where it was loaded onto side dump railroad cars and taken to the plant for preparation for use in the plant. This coal was brought out of the mine, run over picking tables where stone was picked out by hand, weighed, then sent to the Power plant. Because of this method of mine to plant processing, this plant was the first "Mine Mouth" power plant in the country.
In 1921 a mine tipple was built on the hill directly above the plant. Coal was conveyed across Rt 2 to a newly constructed washer to be cleaned and delivered to the plant. With the advent of this installation coal was transported by belt conveyor directly from the picking tables and crushers into storage, or directly into coal bunkers above each boiler.
Between 1939 and 1942 the plant was completely modernized with the installation of four high-pressure boilers and two 60,000 KW General Electric Co. high pressure tapping units. These boilers delivered steam to the turbines at 1250 pounds psi and a total temperature of 925 degrees Fahrenheit.
By this time there were 100 homes in the village. They had been numbered as they were built so; there was no rhythmic rotation to the numbers on the houses. One found it very difficult to find a home by the number on it. The village had two streets. The one near Rt 2 was called Rt 2 and the one directly east of it was called Clendenen Street. No other sections were named.
These homes were built, owned and maintained by the Power plant and its subsidiaries. They rented for $25 to $30 per month. With inflation the rent raised to $40 to $45 per month. This included maintenance, water and electric. Garages for those homes were in gasoline alley, at stop 44. There were between 70 and 75 garages, owned by individuals.
Nothing was deducted from the employee's check, until Social Security was legislated in 1941, except for rent.
Medical and surgical services were provided by Dr. Pontiaas, Dr. George Abersold, (father of Dr. Abersold the eye doctor) who had his office at stop 39, (opposite the K. Joseph store) and Dr. Harry Nolte who had his office at stop 49. In or around 1928, Dr. Pell, nephew of Dr. Nolte joined his uncle, and Dr. Abersold moved his office to Windsor Heights and became Windsor Coal Co. doctor.
The doctor was on call 24 hours a day, for service needed in the plant. He had some time daily when he was in the plant in a little office space also provided by the company. There was no company nurse at the plant. A ball field, equipped with grandstand, backstop, and maintenance service was donated by the company. This was named Plummer Field and was located adjacent to the Power Plant. No equipment was provided. However, many good teams have played on this field. They had players from the plant as well as anyone else who was especially good and would play for the fun no money.
On the opposite side of Rt. 2 there was a company building which housed a General Store, (Wickham's 1941) a restaurant (leased to individuals) and a United States Post Office.
The plant was financed jointly by West Penn Power Co. and Ohio Power Co. Each had its own part of the plant and operated on a contract designating the responsibilities of each. The plant was operated by employees of the Beech Bottom Power Co. for the benefit of the owners and supplied power to their respective systems.
About 1942, they had constructed a modern, well-landscaped office building. This was inside the plant proper. A cyclone fence surrounded the plant and non-workers and people with no authority were not permitted inside the gates. Open House was conducted at various times. Company personnel conducted interesting, informative and exciting tours through the plant. These were arranged on request, from high schools, or science classes from the area.
The persons who have served as superintendents at Windsor Power were; Eugene Plummer, John Geue (Guy), Rolland Kellogg, W. E. Tuite, Cecil Shayes, Houston Crouse, and Emmitt Huntley.
Others who served along the way as assistant superintendents and in many cases were later advanced to superintendents at other company owned plants were; Paul Worthy, Oscar Fay, Ed Crouse (father of Houston), Ed Seidler, Weston Brown, and Fred Spiker, engineer.
Families began to grow. Something had to be done for the benefit of the people. A playground committee was formed and along with the help from the company a playground was formed and equipped. Between 1935 and 1941 a two lane bowling alley came into being. The large house that had been used by the workers at the onset of the building of the village was now known as "Power Community Hall". It was used by the "Women's Club". This group had record hops on Friday and Saturdays, Christmas and holiday parties, 4-H, Scouts, and on New Years they had a party for the grown-ups. Pre-school and TB clinics and any other worth while project was carried on here.
The Woman's Club gave baskets of food at Thanksgiving and Christmas, bought shoes, clothes, medicine, coal, and paid doctor bills for needy families.
Mrs. Rolland Kellogg, Mrs. Jack Osburn, Mrs. Albert Stuck, and Mrs. Robert Music were members of the "Brooke County Cancer Board" at various times. They showed films and distributed literature to the community trying to inform them of the concern and importance of early detection, treatment, and results of Cancer, along with work on the "March of Dimes".
The presidents of the Women's Club, as well as we can determine, were; Mrs. Dr. Pontiaas, Mrs. Eugene Plummer, Mrs. Paul Worthy, Mrs. Ed Barker, Mrs. Dan Irvin, Mrs. Clinton Bollinger, Mrs. William Gorrell, Mrs. Ray Trax, Mrs. James Warden, Mrs. John Arens, Mrs. John Osburn, Mrs. Charles Varner, Mrs. Robert Music, Mrs. Lloyd Taylor, and Mrs. Wilbur Summerville. The records of this group were burned when the group was dissolved along with the desertion of the village.
One person gave his life to our military efforts Charles Shook, father of Leonard Shook. A monument in honor of Power's servicemen was built at stop 44 by the woman's club. The company supplied bricks and mortar for the project and the men and boys of the community dug the foundation. The women's club hired a bricklayer to complete the project. It is now obliterated by trees and weeds; it shows a general lack of maintenance.
The people of the village attended church in Beech Bottom, Wellsburg, Windsor Heights, Warwood, and Wheeling. Around 1923, a Catholic Church was built in Power. The Holy Family Church at stop 45 is still in use today.
There were two family cemeteries located on ground belonging to Ohio Power. These were maintained by the company. One is located on Rt 2 in the village. The family name on this plot seems to be Windsor. The other one is located about 100 yards north on Rt 2. It is so grown up that no one can get to it. The markers are so weather-beaten that one cannot read the epitaphs or names we surmise this may be Clendenen.
As the plant was being replaced with more modern facilities at Philo, Tidd, Cammer, Mitchell, and Gavin, the facility at Power was slated to be closed. The homes were in need of extensive repair and instead of spending money for repairs the houses were sold. This began on a small scale about 1953 and before the plant was closed all the houses had been sold. The occupants had found new places of residence. Individuals bought the company houses by means of sealed bids. The houses were to be dismantled and hauled off the premises, the land to be retained by Ohio Power Company. A strike began in the spring of 1973 and the plant never resumed operations. A skeleton crew stayed on to oversee the transfer of some of the plant facilities to various other companies. Employees were transferred to other plants. No one lost his job as a result of the closing of the plant at Power.
With the closing of the plant and the evacuation of the village it became necessary for the occupants of the multipurpose building opposite the plant to relocate. The restaurant closed. The general store moved to Warwood and the Post Office was discontinued, about 1973.
The houses are all gone, the basements filled in, streets are blocked off so they won't be used as speedways, and the countryside is dotted with wildflowers where houses once stood. What is left of the plant proper is still enclosed in the fence. What once was Power, West Virginia, is now a ghost town. People passing through would not be aware that there was a proud well-kept little village where brush, trees and undergrowth have taken over.
Excerpt from an article about Windsor Heights in the AEP Coal Courier Magazine:
Rt 2 was dotted with homes all the way from Beech Bottom down to Short Creek. That area was first known as Windsor, WV, then called Power, WV, because of the power plant.
The change in name from Windsor to Power apparently was related to attempts to obtain a post office for the community. The name "Windsor" could not be used, the local citizens discovered, because there was already one post office in West Virginia with that name. Power was selected as an alternative.
This Village is owned by the Beech Bottom Power Company and the village administration is under the control of the Windsor Power Plant. at the present time, there are 38 houses occupied by plant workers and their families,
When A.J. Sweeney of Wheeling returned from the Paris Exposition he attempted to interest some of his friends in an electric arc light that he had seen at the Exposition. The outcome of his enthusiasm was an electric lighting project headed by him and aided by his two sons, his son-in-law, P.B. Gardner and Mr. Gardner’s father. From a small plant on 12th street in 1882, the company moved on May 1888 to a plant on Chapline and Tenth Second Street. Later Mr. Sweeney conceived the idea of turning coal into electricity and formulated a plan of serving power to 100 coal miners in this area.
The first piece of land for the Windsor Plant was purchased in November 1915. The nearness of the mouth of the Windsor Coal mine and the Ohio River determined the site of the new industry in Brooke County. Records in the office of the County Clerk of Wellsburg show a deed recorded November 22, 1915 to the Windsor Mining Company from H.C. Wells, John Ralston, Agnes V. Ralston and Ida Belle Douglas.
The plant began operation August 19, 1917. Houses were built at that time for the plant employees on the Poupulias property. Farm land was also purchased from Anderson, Chambers, Eskeys and Ottos.
When a post office was established at Power, the United States post office Department selected “Power” from the three name submitted. There was already a Windsor, West Virginia in the state The third name submitted “Bee Bot” was used by many people for the village.
The nickname “Grandpap for all Power Plants” is rightly applied to the Windsor plant. Brooke County should be justly proud to have had the first plant that produced electricity from coal.
It is interesting to note that many years before the plant was built a canning factory known as the Windsor Cannery was in operation here. No date can be ascertained for the first canning activities, but the cannery reopened about 1902 and the local farmers supplied the canery with tomatoes. After two seasons operations were discontinued.
The land which now comprises the Operators' Village was originally farm land owned by Joshua R. Windsor. The upper part of the village, located North of the brick fire house, was conveyed to a family named Anderson and became the property of the Ohio Power Company around the year 1915.
The lower part of the village, located South of the brick fire house, was also part of the original Windsor farm and was later sold to the Windsor Mining Company and later conveyed to the West Penn Power Company around the year 1917.
White this land was owned by the Anderson family and the Windsor Mining Company it was laid our in building lots and was known as "Windsor Place". Windsor Power Plant derived its name from the original owners, the Windsor family, whose name was carried through to the real estate development "Windsor Place" and through to the Windsor Mining Company who operated the coal mine.
Aside from the original houses already on the land such as #86, and #87 the first house built in what is now known as the Operators' Village was the club house and the front row houses #40, #41, #42, #43 in year 1918. Twenty-eight army type houses purchased from the U.S. Government were erected in 1918. The other houses were built by the Byrum Construction Company in 1920. There are now 71 houses in the Operators' Village, a six apartment house, a club house, a bowling alley building, a fire house and building housing a grocery store, restaurant and post office.
Beech Bottom Power Company
February 29, 1956
Photos from Power
Margaret Ann Haines Healy story
1936 Flood Photos