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Full text of "History of the Consolidated Gas, Electric Light and Power Company of Baltimore / Delbert B. Lowe."

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L'.rJK C' 1 J'"., COMPANY 

The Consolidated Gas Electric Light and Power Com- 
pany is, as its name indicates, an organisation resulting 
from the merging of several similar companies. These com- 
panies date from the year l8l6 when the first gas eompany 
in the United States was organized in Jaltimore. 

In I8l6 Rembrandt Paale was the proprietor of a 
museum in Baltimore where scientific novelties were dis- 
played. As an additions 1 curiosity lor. Peale installed a 
system of the then unknown gas lights, with which to il- 
luminate his museum. This display attracted many visitors 
and caused much favorable comment, encouraged by the 
reception the gas lights had received, Peale apolied to the 
Hay or and City Council of Baltimore for permission to organ- 
ize a company to lay pipes in the streets and light the 
city by means of gas. His proposition was favorably re- 
ceived by the Mayor and Council and in a very short time 
an ordinance was passed which authorized Peale and his 
associates to form the "Gas light Company of Baltimore" 
and to contract for lighting the city with gas. Thus was 
formed the first gas company in the Inited States, and from 
this simple beginning has developed the great Consolidated 


Company of to-day. 

Jhe gaa manufactured by this first company was coal 
gas. It was made by burning coal in cast-iron retorts, the 
gas being driven off and conducted away from the retort by a 
pipe. It was then cooled and stored in gas holders, Jhis 
gas was used exclusively for over 5^ years, or until the 
introduction of water gas. 

The Gas light Company continued to operate, with- 
out competition, until 1871 when the "People's Gas Company" 
was formed. This company also manufactured coal gas. 

In 1873 patents were granted to Professor Thaddeus 
Iowa on his process for making water gas, and in 1874 "the 
first water gas plant was installed at Phoenixville, Pa. In 
a short time plants were also erected in several other places. 
Jhese plants proved so successful that in I876 the 
"Consumers' Mutual Gas Light Company" was organized in 
Baltimore for the purpose of introducing the new gas. In 1877 
the plant was completed and distribution begun. Professor 
Henry IVurtz of Foboken, N.J., an eminent chemist, was 
asked to investigate and report upon the quality and charac- 
teristics of the water gas. In his report the statement is 
made, as follows: 

"I have no hesitation in pronouncing this to be 
the cleanest gas thr t has come within my observation, this 
observation having been very extensive." 

The water gas was made by passing steam over 
anthracite coal, heated to incandescence. In order to make 


the gas burn with a luminous flams it was mixed with, -vaporized 
oil. It proved to be so much cleaner and cheaper than coal 
gas that the plant erected by the Consumers' Company contin- 
ued in operation until 1904 whs n it was closed down. 

There were then three gas companies operating in 
a city which afforded barely enough business for one com- 
pany. To prevent the inevitable rate wars and consequent 
poor service the companies combined in 1880 to form the 
first Consolidated Gas Company of Baltimore. 

In 1382 another competitor, the 'Equitable Gas 
light Company", entered the field. It at first Produced a 
gas made by distilling wood, but later changed to water 
gas. After a short time a coal gas plant was added. The 
ife of the Equitable Company was short, as in 1385 i* w & s 
absorbed by the newly organised " Chesapeake Gas Company" 
which made water gas by a new process which was supposed to 
reduce the quantity of carbon monoxide in the gas. 

In 1888 this company and the old Consolidated 
Company were merged to forma new Consolidated Gas Company 
which is to-day the Consolidated Gas ISlectric Light and 
Power Company. 

This merger endeo competition in the gas industry 
in the city of Baltimore as no more gas companies were or- 
ganised and the legislature has since passed a law prohibit- 
ing any more competition in Baltimore. 

Soon after water gas had made its appearance 


electric lights began to compote with the gas lights and in 
1881 the first Baltimore electric light company was formed. 
This was the "B r ush Electric light Company", named after the 
inventor of the Brush series arc-lamp system. 

As was the case with the gas industry, competition 
was encouraged ani in 1889 the first competitor appeared, 
followed in rapid succession by several others, none having 
other than a transitory existence. In 1899 all existing 
electric light companies were consolidated to form the 
"United Electric Light and Power Company." This company 
operated for several years without competition, and during 
this period service was good and rates were lower than in 
many other cities of the same size. In 1904 a new company 
entered the field and struggled along for a short period 
during which there oc cured a disastrous rate war, which un- 
settled the electric light and power business, crippling 
progress and impairing service. 

In 1906 the Consolidated Gas Company absorbed all 
the existing electric companies and a small gas plant operated 
by the Suburban Gas Company at Highland town, thus forming 
the "Consolidated Gas Electric light and Power Company." 
Since 1906 Ijhere have been no more gas or electric companies 
and the Consolidated Company has been free to develop its 
equipment and improve its service. ?he tremendous progress 
the company has made since its formation in 1306 is described 
in the article following. 



?he first equipment used by the company was the old 
gas plant in back of Peale's ruse urn. In this building was 
made the first gas ever used for lighting in Baltimore, that 
which illuminated the curies on display in the old museum. 
After the organisation of the Gas light Company the "Davis 
Street '..'orks" were built at Saratoga and Ilorth Streets. 
The gas holders were located inside of the building and the 
tanks containing the holders were built of wooden staves held 
together with heavy iron hoops. Tim largest of these holders 
had a capacity of 85900 cubic feet. This plant was used until 
1847 when a new plant, was erected at L'orth Holliday Street, 
between Saratoga and Pleasant Streets, having a oapacity of 
275.^90 cubic fe=ft, ovur three times as much as the largest 
holder previously used, This plant operated until 1856. The 
year before this plant was closed the Gas light Company 
erected a new plant at Spring Gardens, and this is still in 
use to-day, _'he next competing company, the .eople's Gas 
Company, constructed a coal gas plant at the foot of "cott 
Street, having a capacity of 1,000,000 cubic feet, 

: th the introduction of water gas in 1877 by i-he 
Consumers' l.utual -as Light Company a new plant was constructed 
at Lancaster Street and Harris creek, in Canton. At the 
start its capacity was 1,'JQO, 000 cubic feet, but four years 


later the capacity was increased to 2,000,000 cubic feet, 
showing the great popularity of the new gas. 

in 1882 the Equitable Gas Light Company erected a 
plant at Severn and .bayard streets of about 1,000,000 cubic 
feet capacity. is plant was originally used for producing 

wood gas but it was later altered to produce water gas. "Jhe 
equipment was later augmented by a coal gas plant which was 
used when t}B water gas plant was unable to produce a suf- 
ficient quantity. This property was taken over, in 1385, by 
the Chesapeake '-as Company and the plant operated as before 
except that limestone was substituted for fire brick, with 
the intention of reducing the quantity of carbon monoxide in 
the water gas, 'Jhe company did not add anything to the exist- 
ing a'Toaratus . 

ha plant of the Suburban S-as Company, at highland- 
town, was relatively small, having a capacity of only 100,000 
cubic feet. 

;en the Consolidated Cas Company vas formed in 1888 
the new company continued to use the plant of the Chesapeake 
Company at Jayard and Severn Streets, the old plant at Uanton 
once owned by the Consumer's Mutual, and the plant at Spring 
Gardens which was built by the original &as Tight Company and 
which had been in use since 1855* In 1^02 an improved water 
gas apparatus was installed at the Spr in~ Sar&ene Plant and 
shortly thereafter all other -olants were close down. 

lince that date additional apparatus has been added 

and to-day the plant is a complete and modern water gas works, 


having a capacity of over 5 ^i"} 9 0,000 cubic feet. Also, there 
is still sufficient room to allow an increase in capacity to 
at least twice the present capacity, should such an increase 
become necesrary. The entire Soring Gardens Plant covers about 
57 acres and includes bl structures. 

In order to provide for future expansion a piece 
of land, near Turner's Station in the eastern suburbs, has 
been purchased for use as a site for a second gas manufact- 
uring plant when the development at Spring Gardens is complet- 
ed. It is 52 acres in extent and has a deep-water frontage 
of 1200 feet. 

Lie all the gas manufactured by the company is 
made at Spriner Gardens, an additional supply of coke-oven 
or by-product gas is received at the Spring hardens Plant 
thru a pipe line from the I.Irryland Steel Company, at 
Sparrows Point. The pipe line is 12-fe miles in length and 
passes over Bear Creek, which is 37°0 feet wide. Part of 
this line, which' is 24 inches in diameter, is laid on the 
bottom of the creek. At Spring n -ardens this by-product 
gas, better known as coal gas, is purified and mixed with 
water gas before being distributed to the consume rs. 

The distribution system now covers 120 square 
miles, with 1089 feet of mains, of which the largest is 4 
feet in diameter. This distribution system was partly 
made up of the trunk mains formerly used by other compan- 
ies. These have been woven into the nresenu distribution 

The company maintai-ns several gas distribution 
stations, among' Which are the Front Street Station in the 
center of the city, the Arlington Station at the Western 
Maryland Railroad, the .iaysrd Street Station in the south- 
west district, ths Canton Station, and a few others of less 

The electrical equipment obtained by the compeny 
in 1906 when it absorbed a number of small electric companies 
consisted of several small steam power generating stations, 
most of which were inefficient and unreliable. In 1>08, 
Mr. Herbert A. V/agne r came to Baltimore to tahe charge of the 
electric operations of the Consolidated Company. His first 
work was to shut down all these small plants and concentrate 
the company's electric power in one plant. This was done by 
developing the V/estport Steam G-ene rating Station until it 
could supply as much power as the consumers needed. The 
result of this change was a decrease in operating expenses and 
a corresponding rate reduction. The decrease in rates pro- 
duced an increase in the demand for paver. 

At this time the McCall's Ferry Power Company, which 
was constructing a plant at Holtwood, Pa. to use the Susquehanna 
River to generate power, went into the hands of a receiver. 
Mr. J, .. Aldreci was appointed by the court to act as 
receiver and in this capacity he completed the construction 
of the plant at Holtwood, Pa., and organised the Pennsylva- 
nia Water and Power Company. At the sai;:e time Mr. Aldred 
and his associates bought a controlling interest in the Con- 


solld^ted Company of 3altimore. His next step was to bring 
the power from the river plant to a substation at iiighland- 
town in 3ast Baltimore and from there to the system supplied 
by the '..'estport Steam Plant of the Consolidated Company. 
Le work was completed in 1910 and furnished a combined 
capacity of 92,000 horsepower. 

In 1921 the Consolidated Company purchased the 
output of the Pratt Street Plant of the united Railways and 
.lectric Company, thus increasing the total capacity. The 
capacity of the '.Vestport Plant has been increased from about 
50,000 horsepower when completed to a total of about 247,000 
horsepower. The capacity of the hydro-electric plant at 
noltwood has grown from about 60,000 horsepower to more than 
180,000 horsepower. This increase in power at Foltwood was 
partly due to the erection of a steam station with a capacity 
of 30,000 horsepower, to operate in conjunction with the hydro- 
electric plant which has a capacity of 150,000 horsepower. The 
company's total output previous to December, 192 6 was about 
427,000 horsepower, an increase since 1910 of about 4/3 times 
the 1910 output. 

In December of 1326 the new Gould Street Power 
Station was ^ut into operation. At present only one unit is 
in use but when the station is completed it will represent an 
investment of v 10,000,000 and will have a capacity of 213,000 
horsepower. This will increase the company's total capacity to 
G-40,000 horsepower. 

The power from the I oltwood plant is transmitted over 
40 miles of double steel tower line, at 70, 000 volts, to a 


substation at Highlandtown where it is stepped down to 13200 
Tolts and distributed to other substations. At the I.cClellan 
Street substation the volt age is still further reduced and 
transformed by rotary converters to direct current which 
supplies the busines - district. In the business portion of 
the city, service is further insured by one of the largest 
storage batteries ever built. At Ilonument and Constitution 
Streets a large substation supplies energy at 13200 volts to 
four different classes of service, including the .daltimore 
and Ohio Railroad and other large consumers having their own 
substations. Tba Consolidated Company also has a number of 
other substations distributed through the city, some of which 
are equipped to supply direct current. 

0A3 RA'JIJS A I- J ^?.VIC3 

e history of the gas rates used by the Consoli- 
dated Company may be divided into three principal periods. 

The first period began with the establishing nt of the 
industry when gas was charged for at a flat price per burner 
per month, burners were supplied to consumers in three sizes, 
12, 14 , ana 18 dollar burners. If a customer wished to pay 
V 12 per quarter I three months) for his gas he was given a 
V 12 burner. If he wished to pay mare he was supnlied with one 
of the larger sizes. Gas was then sold at v4 per thousand cubic 
feut, with a discount of 12^- per cent, for cash. 


» 3 second period began with the installation of 

gas meters, wbe n straight meter rates were adopted. The 
rates varied at times with the amount of monthly consumption 
by the customer. This period covers the entire history of gas 
rates until January 1, I9l6t ^ 1868 gas had been reduced to 
v3«55 P 9 r thousand cubic feet, this price including the govern- 
ment tax of 2? cents and subject to a discount of 1/11 if 
paid within 29 days. in 1878 the introduction of water gas 
caused the price to drop to yl.yO per thousand cubic feet, 
!:, roci that time to the present the price has been reduced sever- 
al times and has finally reached the present rate of 85 cents 
per thousand cubic feet. 

The third period began in 1916 with the adoption by 
the Consolidated Company of the principle of differential rates. 
By this new rate standard the consumers are charged a certain 
amount per thousand cubic feet until the consumption reaches 
a definite maximum. For any gas consumption above this maximum 
a different and lower rate is charged. 'J he result of this lower 
rate for excess use of gas was a decided increase in gas con- 
sumption. Industrial concerns, during the first year of dif- 
ferential rates, showed a monthly increase of as high as 60 per 
cent, and many ordinary consumers used some gas at the lower 

The purpose behind this development in fixing ges 
rates is expressed by Mr. Aldred, the chairman of the board of 
directors of the Consolidated Company, in a statement made to 

the Public Service Commission: "The policy of the Consolidated 


:T)eny and its nanagems nt ha s been the fixed policy of 
reducing rates as fast as is consistent with maintaining the 
company's credit on the high basis necessary for it to obtain 
capital at low rates." Also, President '.agner says: "iha new 
gas rates give to the people of Baltimore a gas service which 
for low cost, uniformity of quality and pressure, and and 
dependability and adequacy of supply has never Deen equalled 
in any community . ,r 

The statements of these two officials are supported 
by the fact that the Consolidated Company, from the beginning, 
has always maintained its price level as law as conditions 
would permit. Also, for 100 years there has never been any 
failure in the surely of gas, even during the great tsaltimore 
fire of 1904 when thousands of service mains were broken by 
falling buildinrs. At the time of t he fire only the Soring 
Gardens plant was in operation. Tim Bayard Street and Canton 
plants had been closed down a short time before. In order to 
compensate for the large amount of gas lost from broken mains 
the Canton station was again put in operation, in this way the 
city received an ample supply of gas during the fire, when 
nearly all other services were interrupted, in addition to 
the fire there have been numerous other emergencies, such as 
the blizzard in 1899 and the anthracite coal strike in 1902. 



inca the control of the Consolidated Company was 
taken over by Mr. J. 3. Aldred and his associates, who are still 
at its head, the growth of the company has "been phenomenal 
and its expansion is by no means completed, Under their 
able management the Consolidated company has become one of 
the greatest organizations of its kind in the count iy. 



History of illuminating Gas in Baltimore - 
Bdwi rd d, Thompson, 
ialtimore Gas and electric news. 
Yearbooks of the Consolidated Gas Electric 
Light and Power Company of Baltimore. 

m ? itbom-Ho\UM 





PS Old Retort HaaseOiiiMetj 
Old Purify Hoaoe- Hollida^ 5Wftrte MMfidffl i 5ltxj0 ^- Old Retort House- Hotlidau StUartfc 




Wkstport Power Plant of Thk Consolidated Gas Electric Light and Power COMPANY or Baltimore 

'Hit Consolidated Company is completing a 53.333 horsepower extension to its steam-driven power plant at Westpcrii bringing the capaciiy of this plant to iiQ.OQQ 

horsepower, Wettport is the largest electric rower plant south of Philadelphia and one of (he most efficient in America, h is Located or a tract of 14 acres of fast land 

with and deep water facilities. There arc 46 buildings arid structures on the property. 

The Hydro- Kj.ectric Plant of the Pennsylvania Water & Power Company at Holtwood, Pa. 
A large part of the electricity distributed by the Consolidated Company is generated by the Pennsylvania Water and Power Company at its development on the Sus- 
quehanna River at Hottwood, Pa. Baltimore has enjoyed the advantages of power from this source since 1910. j)imii£ 192+ the capacity of the hydro-electric plant was 
increased by 40,000 h-p-j. giving a total generating capacity of 150,000 h.p. This is the largest hydro-electric plant south of Niagara and east of the Mississippi. 


Spring Gardens Gas Works of the Consolidated Gas Electric Light and Power Company c 
All of ihe gas used in Baltimore is. distributed from this plant, which covers 57 acres. It Is one of the Earnest and mt 

s gas plants in America. 

Spring Gardens 
Gas Works 


Consolidated Gas Electric 

Light and Power Company 

of Baltimore 

Oil Tan It a 
Oil Pier and Pipe Line 
Oil Tanker Promoted Cod Km 

Coil Barge 

Gas Storage Holders. One in Section Showing Water Tank for Sealing and Inlet and Outlet Pipes 

Valve House 
Stable and Storehouse Proposed Service Building Relief Holders 

Gas Generator House No, 5 Purifier House No. 3 Station Meter House 

Boiler House No. I Boiler House No. 2 Machine Shop and Boiler Shop 

Kxisting Coal Pier Gas Generator Houses Nos. I and 2 Boiler Water Softening Plant and Exhausters 

Tar Separating Tanks and Tar Stills Condensers Exhausters and Station Meter House 

Cooling Colli Purifier House Mo. t 

Tar Storage Oxide Storage Revivified Oxide 

Coal Storage Purifier House No. 1 




AiKPiAiTE View of the Hum Trnsion Cw.nss-C"«us:TKv Transmission Links from Hoitwooo to Baltimorp, 
Twelve aluminum wires suspended from a double line of sieel towers spaced about S<x> feet apart tranimit power to Bjliimnre, ;l J i at ante of 40 mik-s, at 70 f oc» 
vohft. or about iTjqq limes the voltage of the electric current In your home. At Baltimore the pressure is stepped down to 13,200 volts by transformers in the High- 
land town Sub-station of the Pennsylvania Water & Power Company and the power ie delivered to The Consolidated Company for distribution throughout the city. 



S| TtHwtpiiY WftED tWIH EltCTftlCfTT 


bfrtMI •-:**, (dCUl ~Wl* 

A Map of the Territory Served with Electricity and Gas by the 

Consolidated Gas Electric Light and Power Company 

of Baltimore 



Map of Baltimore with Miniature Elevations or Company's Principal Statiohi 


Weekly PRESSORS Cuil — March VJ to April J, i(^i6 > showing uniform pressure main rain e-i] about 4 miles from worki 


From the Federal Gazette and Baltimore Advertiser 
Wednesday, June 19, 1816 

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1 inch o.Fth* C.CouneiV 

AW 1*1 ' I9lh Jqiic. ! 




■ • . 




Fran thtftu tf the Ftd*r*t Gazette in p*iifiti*rs *f tht Maryland HiiUruat StiirtJ 

F*C-Sirnile of advertisement ot th<t 1816 ordinance .grunting a franchise to the Gas Light Company 

ot BaUimur* ami of Rembrandt Peak's aaVeriiaement of the display 

of gaa lighting at his Museum. 



of Baltimore 



Years 1910 to 1927 Inclusive 
1910 $854,654.26 


























5, 2 43,7°7-94 







1927 (Budget) 




* Includes purchase of Power Plant of Street Railways Company.