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University of Maryland 

College Park, Maryland 

January 9, 1936, 


While Baltimore was y»t in the stage of development, its first electric 
company, Brush Slectric Light Company of Baltimore City, was organized ( 1881 ). 
The same courage and integrity required in the organizing and financing of 
such a venture was responsible for its survival of the many smaller and less 
courageous companies organized after the trail had been opened. Althou 
the name of the original company has faded into oblivion as a result of mer- 
gers and consolidations, it has been the nucleus of the present Consolidated 
G:is Slectric Light and Power Company of Baltimore City. 

The first slectric current for ordinary house lighting in Baltim:re was 
alternating curreat , while direct current at 500 volts was used for power, 
As the city grew, however, distribution of domestic current became a problem 
solvable at that time only by the Sdison Three-V,'ire D. C. net vork. This 
system was installed and the McClellan Street sub-station erected just before 
the Baltimore fire of 1904. The fire proof building and the underground net, 
however, were practically undamaged and are serving the original territory to- 

Long distance transmission of electric current soon necessitated alter- 
nating current generation. As no suitable A. C. distribution system was then 
known, it was necessary to convert the A. C. to D. C. at the sub-stations. 
Rotary machinery was best suited for this purpose, but because A. C. machinery 
was more economical and of simpler construction, therefore less expensive 
initially, efforts were made to replace the D. C. net by a similar A. C. system. 
As a result, an A, C. network was superimposed upon the the old Edison about 
1933, and since that time it has been a Company policy to prevent the growth 
of D. C. use by making practically all new installations of A. C. equipment 
and replacing all faulty D. C. equipment with the newer service. 


The author expresses his sincere appreciation to Mr, L, G. Smith, 
Assistant to General ouperintendent, Consol. G. E. L. & P. Go,, for 
his assistance in gathering technical data for Part III, and to 
Doctor Frederick C, Ruths, Gas Division of the Consol. G. E. L. & P. 
Co., for his file of the publications from which the major portion of 
the subjective and illustrative material was taken. 

Thanks are also due to Miss Frances E Jenkins for the use of her 
reference books, for the large Baltimore Map, and for her assistance 
in electrical history; Kiss Elizabeth Diggs for her painstaking efforts 
in the typing; Miss Alice Reynolds, Librarian, Consol, Q, E, L. & P. 
Co., for her interest and aid in the use of the Company library; and 
Mr. G. W« Fogg, Reference Librarian, University of Maryland {College 
Park) for making available the facilities and resourees of the Univer- 
sity Library. 

The author is especially indebted to the Consolidated Gas Electric 
Light and Power Company of Baltimore City for the release of load 
curves and illustrative material for this thesis not otherwise avail- 

W. G. C. 

co:. r : 


At Monument Street in the'^inties" , ...,2a 

Gould Street a 

Incorporations and Consolidations 5a 

Power Plant Abandonment Chart 6a 

Power Plants Abandoned 7a 

Officers of the Consol. GV E. L. & P. Co 7b 

Lexington Building ...,7c 

Heart of the Baltimore Business District... 7c 


".estport Electric Generating Station 9a 

lime of Installation of D. C. Equipment 9b 

Smoke elimination Views 10a 

Eoltwood Hydro-electric Development 11a 

franklin Street I [achinery . . 15a 

Franklin Street Switch Panel 15b 

Safe Harbor Hydro-electric Development ICa 

Koltwood and Safe Harbor Distribution 16b 

Safe Harbor System Cable Arrangement 16c 


Edison Lamps and Dynamo 18a 

D. C . Terri tory 21a 

Edison Three- .'ire System ...S2a 

Cable Used I ' on Network £2b 

Load Curve , D. C. 1-Hour Peaks 1908-35 


.? GE BALTI Back Cover 


The history of the distribution of direct current in 
Baltimore divides itself immediately into three major parts; a history 
of incorporations and consolidations leading to the organization of 
the present electric power company, a history of electric service in 
Baltimore, and a history and desciption of the system now used in 
Baltimore for distibuting direct current to its consumers. 

Little information is available concerning D. C. alone, so 
the history o£ electric service is treated in a general way and the 
reader is asked to realize that D, 5, profited by many of the general 
installations and modifications as well as by the strictly D, C, 

Neealess to say, many technical details have been omitted 
entirely from this thesis j books have been written to discuss them. It 
is hoped, however, that the reader will get from this paper a clear 
mental picture of the distibution system for direct currents in Balti- 

fciuch more could be written about the companies that form 
the present consolidation, but this treatise is to be of an informative 
nature and for that reason much description and discourse are excluded. 

The picture would be incomplete without some historical 
treatment of the city itself. Many pages could well be spent in de- 
scribing the romantic early life of this industrious tide-water town 
and its development into the thriving city it now is. The technical 
nature of the topic restricts this phase of the discussion, however, 
and just a bare account of its younger days escape the "blue pencil". 




The town of Baltimore in 1S16 hugged the waterfront, crowd- 
ing as much of itself as possible about the wharves, ai & Tery grudgingly 
pushed its extremities landward. Trul; It was an amphibious animal. 
Its population was about 50,000 and was increasing at the rate of from 
16,000 to 20,000 every ten years, while its nearest rival of 39,000 
rambled along at 8,000 to 10,000. ::ew York, Philadelphia, Baltimore , 
Charleston, in the order named, were the only cities which 
the statisticians of that day deemed worthy of consideration, 

* "Baltimore, at that period, had three important subdivisions — 
theoretical subdivisions, to be sure, but none the less subdivisions — 
the names of which have been handed dow fro to generation 

and are not unfa hliar today. There was Baltimore towr: or "p.ltimore 
section; there was Id Town, and there was Fell's T-'oint. These three 
(at one time separate settlements) had bean merged fact 

for many years prior to that time, were a port of the city of Baltimore." 

! old Baltimore section is now the business center; Old Town is the 
sect! n immediately east of t t; v ell's Point, 

named for "1111 Pell, 1 aarly settler, is that extensive section 
on the n of the inner harbor, t ! :e ce: ter of which was ''roadway 
and Thames Street. 

ound these sections Haltimore expanded slowly to reach 
the ten squar indicated on tha nap, As was indicated abovejthe 
town was one of the leaders in the United States {the first to innaugurate 
a gas company) and by the end of the ninet anth century vas "quite a 
berg". Gas was then widely used for heat and li ht in homes, hospitals, 
Baltimore As It Wa3 In 1816 - .ilbur P. Coyle, City librarian. 


"business houses, factories, and for street lighting, 

B^LTiiJoai'S ■■i.-.. , . ... gc ..■:. :.. :..:.,i-.Tf 

"In 1878," in the words of Thomas Sdison, "I went down to 
see Professor Baker, at Philadelphia, and he showed me an arc lamp — the 
first I had seen. Then a little later I saw another — I think it r .vas 
one of Brush* s make — and the whole outfit, ei-yine, dynamo, ar.d one or 
two lamps, was traveling around the country with a circus. At that time 
Wallace a..d ; Q3es O. Parmer had succeeded in getting ten or fifteen lamps 
to burn together in a series, which wa3 considered a very wonderful thing." 
The first electric company in . altimore was the "rush electric 
it Company of Baltimore City operating at the Monument Street Station. 
To organize ar.d finance such a venture required much courage and a like 
amount of faith in the enterprise, and these -jualif ications were found 
in the group of men who incorporated the Brush company in 1881; viz. , 
Summerfield Baldwin, Edgar G. L'lller, Oliver G. Zell, Isaac Brooks, Jr., 
William T. Levering, Sdmund D. low, Dr. "/ill iam "/hit ridge, Jacob B. 
idner, George H. Baer, Charles D. Fisher. 

After the ice was broken the less Courageous and more 
speculative business men of Baltimore were encouraged to ei.ter the 
field, many smaller companies started up in competiticn with the 
original company. Of course, there was very little profit for such a 
number of small companies and on October 20, 1885 they were all merged 
to form the 'hiited States electric Power and Light Company of Baltimore 
City, Brush's lone competitor, with the plant at the Center Street 
Station. The following year the two companies were merged under the name 
of t:ie original organization and everything went along smoothly. 

An Interior of Brush Electric Light Co, Station, at Monument and Constitution Streets in 1S96. 

oAt Monument Street in the Nineties 

Mr. Chattin Writes of the Facilities and Organization 
0/ the Brush Company 


One Park Avenue, 
New York. 
Mr, John G. Reese, 
Consolidated Gas Electric Light & Power Co, of Balto. 

Dear Mr. Reese: 

1 have your letter of June 18th and the copy of the Gas and Electric News 
for June and was very much interested in reading the article regarding the old Brush 
Electric Co, In looking over the pictures I, of course, do not recognize anybody in 
the first picture which undoubtedly was taken quite sometime before I joined the 
force in March, 1895. In the picture showing the night inspectors and troublemen 
1 recognize the face of the man at the extreme left who I think was named Martin 
Houck, and at the time I was at the Brush Co. he drove the wagon with the line 
gang. The faces of the others in this group are not familiar to me, although the 
fellow with his hand pointing upward somewhat resembles "Chick Sales" of the 
specialist fame. 

In the picture taken in Annapolis I recognize Charles Gantz at the extreme 
right hand of the top row. At the time I worked at the Brush, Charlie was in charge 
ofthe line gang. 

During the two years that I worked for the Brush, Edward Baker was general 
superintendent, William Slemmons was chief engineer, Jake Slemmons, his brother, 
was machinist, Pete Slaffer was also a machinist, Charlie Roder repaired arc lamps, 
Walter Rumpp and myself took care of inside electrical repairs, although Walter 
Rumpp left in 1896 while I continued on until March, 1897. 

Last night while looking over my scrap book I came across a picture of the 
interior of the Brush Station taken by a friend of mine on a Sunday in February, 
1896, and I am sending you this, thinking it may he of interest. This picture shows 
the three one-thousand horse- power steeple compound Westinghouse engines direct 
connected to ten thousand light alternators. These units were part of the exhibit at 
the World's Fair at Chicago, but the dynamos were rewound and somewhat changed 
before delivery to Baltimore. The operating voltage was 2750 instead of 2300 at 
Chicago. In those days we spoke of these as 7200 alternation machines, today it 
would be sixty cycles. 

The four Westinghouse compound engines shown in the foreground went through 
the 1893 fire and some at least were in operation in the ruins in less than forty-eight 
hours after the fire. All that was done to them at that time was to straighten the 
rod connecting the eccentrics with a rocker arm. During 1895 and 1896 the burnt 
cylinders on these engines were gradually replaced. You will note that three of these 
engines are driving six sixty-light Brush arc machines, three being tandem belted to 
each driving pulley. The engine at the extreme right is driving five Westinghouse 
D. C. arc machines. These were supposed to be seventy-five light machines, but it 
is my recollection that we were never able to get quite as much load as that on any 
of them. The armature resting on the horses is a spare one for the Westinghouse 
machine. It was my job to keep the electrical apparatus inside the station, with the 
exception of arc lamps, in good repair. 

1 hope this long tale has not bored you, hut the article in the Gas and Electric 
News stirred up my recollections. I certainly wish to thank you for your thought- 
fulness in writing me about the matter. 

Engineering Department 

W. J. Chattin, Manager, 


On October 2, 1893, however, the anstron Electric Company 
of Baltimore City was incorporated. Shortly afterward {Dec. 23, 1895) 
the Sdison Electric Illuminating Company of Baltimore City was incorporated, 
followed by a rapid succession of other companies with franchises and 
business (usuall. with the principal asset a nuisance value) to sell. This 
condition continued until ay 6, 1899, when all the companies except the 
IVenstrom consolidated, resulting in the formation of the United Electric 
Light and Power Company. Later on February 14, 1905 these two companies 
merged with the Consolidated Gas Company of altii.iore City under the name 
of Consolidated Gas Electric Light and Power Company of Baltimore. 

PRESET GAS j. D .a^CT.-IC CJ.'3 ? ANY 

This latter organ! zati ->:. assumed the name which it has 
carried through its rapidrise to its enviable position in Baltimore in- 

* "In the years immediately following (the last consolidation), 
the total alectric load, including the street lighting service, was ap- 
proximately 6000 KW, The service, which was chiefly A.C. ,was generated 
by machines of the ravolving armature type. At Monument Street the 
single phase 133 cycle - 2300 volt - A &. B side or double generator 
machines were directly connected with reciprocating steam engines. The 
armatures were keyed to the same shaft 90 degrees out of phase. This is 
the origin of the two phase electric system. These units had been pre- 
viously exhibited at the World* s Fair in Chicago in 1893. The street 
li hting equipment consisted of Brush arc light generators for 9,6 ampere 

*The Company's Zlectric System During 25 years - Richard R. L-mg, Chief 
Qperator, electric Stations Department. 


carbon lamp service. Six or eight of these units ware belted to other 
reciprocati:.,.- e gines by mean a of a countershaft. The voltage per arc 
circuit was about 5000 volts. D. G. service at 250 volts was supplied 
from generators at ! onuraant Street for elevators and other power service 
in the downtown district. At Pann Street Static: , bod arc machines were 
belted to a line shaft with a mechanical clutch at each end, connected 
to 750 H, P. steam engines. This arrangement provided a certain degree of 
reliability. Several 150 H. P. engines with arc machines on each side were 
also used at this station. At the Center Street station there were several 
A. C. reciprocating units and six or eight Wood arc machines." 

The company's total personnel at that time numbered about 
150 men, and company offices were located at the Continental Building. 


With no small "nuisance" companies ^service was good and 
rates were maintained at a lower level than in cities of similar size 
to Baltimore. But on October 5, 1904, the Baltimore electric Power 
Company of Baltimore City was permitted to enter the field. This 
company Launched its uncertain career which resulted in a disastrous 
rate war unsettling the electric light and power ■■usiness, crippling 
progress, and impairing service. May 4, 19C? saw this company merge 
with the 1 aryland Telephone and Telegraph Company of Baltimore City to 

: the Baltimore Electric Company of Baltimore City with its plant 
at Could Street* 

Like many of its predecessors, however, the company showed 
a deficit and was forced to enter into a nine hundred and ninety-nine 

A Pulverized Fuel-Burning Plant Generating Electricity at Tide-Water 

The initial installation in the Gould Street Station of the Consolidated Company is 96,000 horse- 
power. The ultimate installation will be 192,000 horse-power. 

The Gould Street plant burns pulverized coal. It is interconnected with the Consolidated's large 
steam-driven station at Westport, with the hydroelectric and steam development of the Pennsylvania 
Water and Power Company on the Susquehanna River at Holtwood and will be interconnected with 
the new hydroelectric development at Safe Harbor now under construction. 


year lease to the Consolidated on November SO, 1907. The promoters had. 
entered into an agreement with tie public authorities not to consolidate 
(an example of the insincerity of competition) and were only too glad 
to take advantage of this opportunity for relief when t ti m arrived. 

'ffla BALTr;'0KS FIRE 
In 1903 t e famous Edison system, ar. underground D. 0, dis- 
tribution network, was installed and the MeClellan Street building con- 
structed for its supply. 'he latter was built as a completely fireproof 
structure. A few days before it was due to be initially operated the 
Baltimore fire of February 7, 1904 razed the whole business district of 

Ltimore. The storage battery equipment at the Continental Building and 
the overhead transmission and feeder systems in the fire zone were 
completely destroyed. 

: the fire proof bui' and the underground network were 
little affected and went into service almost immediately after the fire. 
25 cycle alternating current supplied from Pratt Street at 13,000 volts 
was transformed into direct curre t by four 13 Yestinghouse rotary 
converters and fed to the network supplying the entire central s : 
of the city, formerly Baltimore section. 

During t e period of rebu in the fire aone and re- 
organization of commercial policies ixpansion of 

item itself it van necessary tc arf st Pra 

Street station to furnish the additional steam required for the increased 
electrical load. 

e Consolidated "as electric Light and 

ikcorporai; . tons 

Center Street Station 
United States Electric 
Pov?^r & Light Company 
of Baltimore City 
Inc. October 20, 1885 

Monument Street Station 
Brush Electric Light 
Company of Baltimore City 
Inc. 1881 

BruBh Electric Li 
Company of Baltimore City 
June 18, 1886 

Fenn. street Station 
Edison Electric I 1 1 umina ting 
Company of Baltimore City 
Inc« December 2j, 1^5 

'.ifenstrooi Electric 

Company of Baltimore 


Inc. October 2, 18°5 


United electric Light 
& Power Company 
..lay 6, 18'T3 

Electric Light & 

_r Coinp- 
February 14, 1°05 

Guild Street Station 
Baltimore Electric Po 

ny of Baltimore City 
Inc. October 5, 1904 

Oomp Citv 

otr i c G 
of Be re City 

Kay 4, 1«07 

Consolidated G 



P r 

-'li ctric 


r Co 

. • 

pr i 1 


I LEASED 5-11903 

ol l&t >. 

trie Light & 
Ptwct Company of 

r 20, 1°07 

t.ric & 
Lufacturing Company 

1 and Delaware 

Baltimore County Water & 

Electric C on parry 


■ it. RTaahingto] brie 

tower Company 

Oi June 25, 1892 

,ric Li ' Its C tent 

Companies Charters, gee and Re3 ac of July 1, 1°10.) 


Power Company advance in every respect with its "avowed purpose ... to 
become the strongest and most useful servant of the people in building 
a greater Baltimore." lore individual customers were gained, more 
different uses occurred for its products, and as a result the company 
expanded its personnel and property and extended its services. 


Local power plants were abandoned one by one ani replaced 
by light, heat and powar from Consolidated' s central plant. Out standing 
customers signing contracts for these services in 1912 include: the 
Baltimore Gas Appliance Company, manufacturers of gas appliances; "/. ' . 
Crawford &. Company, spice manufacturers; Industrial Building Company, 
manufacturing building; Baltimore Tube Company, brass tubing factory. 
Total new installation for 1912 was 8,381 II. P. The next year was 
not so fat but after that customers and central station service in- 
creased until in 1924 Baltimore was more thorc 'ified through 
central service than any oth r city in America. This growth is in- 
•ated by the chart below. 

Having acquired practically all the service in the city 
proper the Company's agressive business policy soon readied out to in- 
clude suburban and county districts. The Roland Park Tilectric and V/ater 
Company, incorporated April 1, 1904 was leased to the Company in 1909; 
the Mount Washington Electric Light and Power Company, incorporated 
June 25, 1892, was absorbed in 1912; an J in 1913 two smaller companies 
(Patapsco Electric ai anufacturirg Company of Maryland and Delaware, 
and Baltimore County 7/ater and JClectric Company) came under the parent 


0. E. L. , 








,;? ' 








J°25 t924 1 v 1926 1927 'T l-ipi 


(l°3Q Data Based J 

Power Pictorial 


Current Sales 


No. of Customers 






■ • - 41.237 - " 

1 45.39°.° 26 


• • - 79>469 ' - 

- 377> 6l 3»3 6 4 

l 9 2 5 


■ 645,215,639 


. . . 221,567 . . 

■ 8 3°.S63.939 

Part of the abandoned power pbm 

Hospitals, showing some of the engine generator equipment. 

A view in the boiler room. In the future, this plant will be 
used for heating purposes only and will no longer generate steam 
to make electricity. 


In 1910 hydro-electric power was contracted for by ] r. 
.Aldred, president 1910-15, from the Pennsylvania ',/ater and Power Company 
at Eoltwood, in Pennsylvania, and later the Consolidated built the Safe 
Harbor Plant eight miles up the Susquehanna River fron Holtwood. This 
plant was developed to supply all the power required by the recent 
electrification of the Pennsylvania Railroad, from Havre de Grace to 
Washington. Thes9 two hydro plants and the steam plant, also at Holt- 
wood, are interconnected and operate in effect as a single development , 
the largast in North America. 

Consolidated Gas Electric Light and Power Company of Baltimore 

J. E. Aldred, Chairman of the Board 

Chairman of the Board since 1910; also President 
from [910 to 1915. 

Herbert A, Wagner, President 

President since 1915: Vice-President from 1910 
to 1^15* 

Charles M. Cohn, Vice-President Charles E. F. Clarke, Vice-President Wm. Schmidt, Jr., Secretary & Treasurer 

Vice-President since 1910. lXrecror since 1910; Vice-President since 1915. Secretary since 1910; also Treasurer since 1936. 

The Lexington Building 

Modern offices in the heart of the city make the Company's display rooms of gas and electric appliances 
convenient to its customers. 

The main offices and stores are in the twenty-one story Lexington Building which the Company 
built in the heart of the shopping district of Baltimore. 

It is one of the tallest and best office buildings in Baltimore. 

The circle indicates the Company's Building where its General Offices ami Display Rooms are located. 





In the early history of current distribution in -altinore , 
aa in mpat other antral systems, the first direct current wag generated 
at 500 volts and was used just for power. In the Edison Three-, 'ire 
system this would place 250 wolts between the neutral wire and each 
of the outside (positive and negative) wires with the full 500 across 
the two outside wires. 

jit this time all house and lighting Current was alternating 
current, but there was no satisfactory distribution system for A. C. to 
correspond to the Edison Three-'. . ; ire network for direct currei.t. Then, 
too, the alternating current was of 25 cycle freque ; cy and therefore 
unsatisfactory for lighting purposes. 

LlcCLKLLiil: ^TR^T ST^T: 

So in 1904 the Consolidated installed rotary converters 
at L.cClellan Street to supply the new Edison network with 120/240 volt3 
direct current for lighting service. In 1907 Consolidated' s only com- 
petitor, the . : ;alti:.iore Electric Company of Baltimore Citj'-, installed 
three 1000 Kff motor-generator sets at the Sharp Street Statloi and 
Started a D. C. sub-s tat ion on Madison Street east of r'utaw. Their 
genereti:!;-.; station was loeat >d at Could Street where three 2000 
three phase 60 c^cle 6600 rolt Westii ^house turbine driven generators 
supplied ourrei t no Sharp Street. On November "0, 1907, this company 
was leased to the parent organization for 999 years. 



In .Tune, 1906, the Vestport generating station was started 
with equipment similar to that at Pratt Street; viz. ,four 2000 KH 25 
cycle 13000 volts G. J. alternators driven y 300u H« - , Kclntosh and 
Seymour reciprocating engines. Tie cables were installed from "/estport 
to MoClellan Street, Penn Street and Monument Street. The latt r two 
were made sub-stations and equipped with 1000 K7; and 500 KW frequency 
changers for S2 J - cyclo service. Center Street station was shut down 
and later abandoned. 

A 500C e driven generator was installed at '.Vest- 
port increasing the generating capacity fro;.i 8000 r., to 13000 
A 50C . . rtical turbine driv w tor was also installed 
(1908) but later abandoned. 

tv several years prior to this time a section of the city 
around south ^roadway had been receiving alter current service 
from a tra .;r station on Griff irj f s court just off Eastern Avenue. 
In order to supply this section with direct current a sub-station known 
as Broadway was erected directly opposite the transformer station on 
Griffin's Court, and received twenty-five cycle 13000 volt service from 
' cClsllan Street. This was converted to A. 0. by two 500 EW rotary 

In the first 0. . . ireary ftrc rectifiers 

were operated at Monument Street and Penn Street to supplement the 
Brush arc machines at Monunent ..'treat to Meet the ever increa-: 
street lighting load. 

IF est port Electric Generating Station 

The steam turbines at Westport have a capacity of 221,000 horse- power which with the Consolidated 's 
other plants give a total installation of 346,000 horse-power. 

The system is interconnected with the hydro steam electric plants of the Pennsylvania Water and 
Power Company at Holtwood. It will be interconnected with the new hydroelectric development at 

Safe Harbor now under construction. 



McCIsllan Alley Substation 

Rotary Converters 


- #2 

1200 kw» 


- #3 


1200 kw. 


** #4 


1200 kw. 




1200 kw. 




2000 kw. 


- #1 


2000 kw. 


- #7 


4300 kw. 

Storage Batteries 

#1 - 


#2 - 


Custom House Avenue 

Rotary Converters 

#1 - 1918 

#2 - 1913 

#3 - 1920 

#4 - 1926 

Storage^ Batteries 

#1 - 1922 

2000 kw. 
2000 kw. 
2000 kw. 
4300 kw. 

Franklin Substation 

Rotary Converters 

#1 - 1924 - 2500 kw. 

#2 - 1924 - 2500 kw. 

#3 - 1930 - 3135 kw. 


O'li: ^ J .:,: ass 

In 190? the A. C. load at Sharp Street was transferred to 
Jlellan Street and the 6600 volt 60 cycle service radually changed 
over to 4000 volts and 62{, cycles to conform with the service of the 
fre ;rs at Monument street and Penn Street stations. 

The Gould Street station was shut down aid its generators 
sold to a mlnj oer Lb Mexico* 

t, , shir, ton Electric Light and Power Company was 
taksn over in 1912 and its Falls Road generating station was made a sub- 
station, supplied fro i Monument Street. The service was then changed 
from 2300 volt 3 phase 3 wire to 4000 volt 3 phase 4 wire to conform with 
city service. 


Following the rate war of 1907 and the consequent disturbed 
business situation the Public Service Commission was created in 1910. 
With its chief function "the exorcise of supe vision over the Company's 
relations with the public and the issuance of its securities" the com- 
mission soon placed the central electric distribution business on a 
sound and stable basis. 


As Tialtimore grew its industries grew in number but crowded 
in an unproportionally small area, which gave ri e to other problems; 
namely, greater power output from the company's limited capacity, and 
smoke and dirt from industrial furnaces. When the town was young there 
was enough capacity in the numerous and scattered power plants to take 
care of any peak load, and the smoke and dirt from smoke stacks of 

™. .^W*) %*. ^^ \J&iLJZE3fc?l^Tmvtt 

JiiffaiAiiHl i , £»*- - - ' 

*^ iii-^ 

■ :.;^f^r§^^ : 






Carroll Park immediately adjoins this modern industrial building, and silhouetted against the eastern 

n mediately ; 
sty can be 

seen Baltimore'* newest and most prominent skyscrapers. 


Light Strket As r n the Waterfront. 
The density of traffic, both land and water, which is one of the prob- 
lems that the modern city must face, is well illustrated in this picture. 
The smoke haze is ail even more serious problem. 

.. . , s, 

An Authentic Prist of Baltimore, Circa 1730 

When Baltimore had approximately twenty-five dwellings, there was no smoke problem requiring 

consideration. The growth of the city, however, has brought many changes. 




Hydra feneration 

Sleam Plant Generation ,-, 

7 nO 


"I _90O 

600 if) 

_S00 i- 


_400 . 


-300 5 






YEARS 1901 TO 1929 INCL. 


plants generating their own power {either because it was more economical 
than central supply or because central supply was inadequate) was hardly 
a critical probl 

But because of Baltimore's excellent conaaercial situation 
on the Chesapeake Bay, combine i i its inherent a^ressive spirit, 
many new industries sprang up here and the old ones expanded, ,'here 
was one solution — hydro-electric supply. 

-a- "On October 14, 1910, in accordance with a contract which 
had been signed previously with the Pennsylvania Water and Power Company, 
our Company accepted hydro-electric energy for the fir t ti :e from the 
wat f 3r power plant of that corapany at "oltwood , Pa. Energy was delivered 
to Baltimore over two 66000 volt 3 phase transmission circuits on steel 
towers. A transferer statinr. of th>=;t eompany was located at Highland- 
town, from which 13,000 volt cables were run to our Company's and customers* 
sub-stations. The generators at V/estport were finally operated in parallel 
with the Power Company service, which arrangement generally resulted in a 
saving for both companies from the standpoint of economy in generation. 
However, operating troubles increased. The cold weather caused a decrease 
in generating capacity at Holtwood, due to the formation of ice on the 
turbine blades, necessitating increased stea-j generation at Ytestport. 
Anchor and cake ice in the Susquehanna lUver complicated operating con- 
ditions at Holtwood, During flood seasons, the Holtwood capacity was 
lowered due to low head. The 40 miles of transmission line from Holtwood 
to Baltimore trade our system subject to t ie effects of sle^t and electrical 

storms. These circuits were grounded by Buzzards perching with outstretched 
* Blue Book No. 5 

Electric power from this hydro-steam development of the Pennsylvania Water & Power Company has been used in Baltimore since 1910, when the river plant was 
interconnected with the Consolidated System. The installed capacity at Holtwood is 180,000 horse-power, of which 150,000 is in the hydro station and 30,000 in the adja- 
cent steam station, which burns coal dredged from the river above the dam. 


wings or the tower tops until the spacing of conductors was increased." 


* "In 1911, a 10,000 ampere hour storage battery of the lead- 
acid type was put in operation at r.IcClellan Street. It was the largest 
installation of the type known, and built by the "Slectric Storage Battery 
Company of Philadelphia, This battery was floated on the D. G. bus bars 
at all times, ad would carry the entire D. C. system load during an in- 
terruption of several minutes to the A. 3, supply for the rotary converters. 
During intervals of low frequency on the A. C, system, this battery was 
also useful in discharging into the D. C. system, thereby decreasing load 
on the 25 cycle system.** 


Previous to 1910 5. & 0. trains were hauled through pal ti mo re 
tunnel by a belt line from a power house behind Camden Station. The trains 
were connected to this belt and ! iechanlcally pulled through the tunnel. 
In order to take care of the increasing load on this line the B. b 0. 
erected a sub-station at Mt. Royal and purchased 13,000 volt 25 cycle 
service frojc Monument Street. 

The United Railways and Electric Company augmented their 
Pratt Street power with hydro-electric energy from Holtwood ir, July, 1911. 
The Consolidated Company purchased tie Pratt Street station ad took over 
the supply to the -altimore Street car company In 1921. lie Pratt Street 
station is the center of distribution for the railway sub-stations through- 
out the city and is supplied fro:i 'Vestport a landtown stations. As 
a generating station it is used now only for pes'; loads. 
#Blue Book ::o,5, 


Nunnery Lane sub-s.ation was erected in 1912 to supply 

Sixty-two and a half cycle service increased to justify the 
additional frequency changer capacity by a 2000 KW unit and a 3000 KW 
unit at Penn Street and Monument Street. The first 5000 IC.7 unit was in- 
stalled at the Penn Street station and additi oriel ones were located at 
sub- stations as the demand increase . 

.Additions to the tfestport plant i: 1914 included: 2 horizontal 
G. S, turbo-generator units of 7500 KW and 15000 KW. A SO, 000 KS 0. E. 
unit was installed in 1917 b: the total capacity of this station 
to 56,000 KW. Additions were made i:. 1918, 1919, and 1921 to increase 
this figure to 136,000 

The preser t office building of the Consolidated Oas Electric 
light and Power Company was erected and occupied in 1916. Located at 
Lexin- ton and Liberty Streets it was one of Baltimore's outstanding land- 
. marks. Offices, central library and sales servi e departments are located 

Increased load on the 25 cycle industrial section vjas the next 
problem, in 1918, a new sub-station was erected at Canton, supplied with 
electrical energy at 13,000 TOlts from Highlandtown, * "In the latter part 
of 1917, auto-transformers were installed at Testport, Canton and South 
Baltimore Stations, which provided for the transmission of £5 cycle 
electrical energy at 26,000 volts to the industrial section. Four submarine 
cables were laid across the Patapsco River and harbor from 1'asonville to 
Canton, which when connected to the overhead circuits from Vestport, 
closed the transmission loop between Westport a; ilandtown Stations. 
Taps from these feeders fc asonville were extended to the South Baltimore 
■ttBlue Book j "0,5 


■ttion, supply. t station at 26,000 volts instead of at 13,000 
volts. . . . 

Custom 'iouse Avenue Sub-Station was put into service in 1919, 
in order to increase the capacity of the eastern end of the D. C. system, 
with two 2000 KW .'esti: -house rotaries. The third machine, a 2000 If.Y, was 
put into operation later. Not until 1923 was a storage battery placed in 
operation at this sub-station, this being a 5250 ampere hour Electric 
:; lattery Company unit. 

The Philadelphia '.ioad 3ub~St>-':t , uompleted in 1921, was 
• next addition, built to supoly expected load fro the La 
phophone Plant or. n iddle Street, and using 60 cycle electrical energy 
at 13 t 000 volts fro j ,ent Street Station. T later converted 
into e center for 4000 volt 60 cycle feeders... 

December, 1922, reciprocal ! e driven units ' js, 
1, 2, Z, 1 5 at Westport were abandoned, a .1,2, 

were removed in order to provide for the installation of the 
52- cycle generators. . " teral Electric 20,000 KM 62. cycle unit 
was put in service on April 26, 1924, and in August No. 13 General 
Electric 20,000 cycle unit. The :f 62" 

cycle generation at festport. The 25 cycle and the 62 i systems 
are tied by the frequency changers and transformers a sub-stations, 
so that the i tnrchange of po^3r between systems is permitted. To date 
the resulting generating capacity (25 cycle and 60 cycle) at /estport is 
168,000 KW. 

In 1923, the service in the South Broadway section from the 
5ub-StatiOH was changed from D. C. to A. C — 02' cycles. The 

two rotaries ware removed to t e Perm Street Station. 

3arly in 1924 the last Brush arc machine was abandoned at 
nument Street Station. This type of equipment has been gradually re- 
placed by mercury arc rectifiers and constant eurrei t transformers for 
street lighting service. 

In the sane year, ,Jf2 Store :as installed at the 

I ^Clellan Street Station. This battery of 10,500 ampere hour capacity 
is the product of the Electric Storage ^attery Company of Philadelphia, 

In : ovember of 1924, two new sub-stations of our system 
carried load for the first time, vi 2, .Franklin, a D. C. sub-station, and 
'Joodbrook .Ave. , a substation wit?. 62. cycle distribution and street 
lighting equipment. 30th of these sub-stati.-.s are supplied with 62: 
cycle service at 13,000 volts from ffestport. At ^ranklin Station 
2-2000 KW Westinghouse synchronous converters were installed to operate 
in connection with the D. C. network. 

The latest addition to our electric system is the outdoor 
sub-statiDii at Philadelphia Hoad, which was erected duri - the latter 
part of 1924, This contains a bank of 7500 K. " T . A. 66,000 volt 62' 
cycle transformers fcr the supply of electrical energy to Finksburg, 
Ssbestoa, : agnolia and Aberdeen over 1-3 phase overhead circuit on steel 
tower construction. This is the origin of the 66,000 volt B2 cycle 
system Id "-altimore and and was put in operation ! arch 31, 1925. M 

Stations now feeding t ie D. G, network are Franklin Station, 
Custom House Alley, KcClellan Street and Sharp Street Stations. 

Duri g the year 1931 the Consolidated Gea Electric Light and 
Power Company and tJie Pennsylvania Water and Power Company initiated 

the $30,000,000 development of the Safe liarbor '.Vater Power Corporation 
eight milea above Koltwood on the Susquehanna River. These three companies 
during the year negotiated one of the largest sales of power ever made In 
a single contract. The agreement provided for trie supply of a large part 
of the needs of the new electrification of the Pennsylvania Railroad fron 
Havre de Grace to Washington fur a minimum of twenty years, payments under 
which will ultimately reach over $4,000,000 per year. 

With the initial six turbines at the Safe .:arbor plant (for 
which contracts have been awarded) the interconnected plants will have 
total resources of more than 750,000 horse-power, which will be increased 
by additional turbines* 'as needed, to upwards of 1,000,000 horse-power. 

From this point the Consolidated Gaa Electric Light ard Power 
Cou-pany has enjoyed prosperity known to very few industries in and around 
Baltimore notwithstanding the recent business depression. 

The hydro development at Safe Harbor on the Susquehanna River, eight miles above Holtwootl, which was placed in operation in 1931 by the Safe Harbor Water 
Power Corporation, and which is interconnected with the Consolidated System. The present installation at Safe Harbor is 212,500 horse-power, which will ultimately be 
increased to 510,000 horse-power. The Safe Harbor Water Power Corporation is owned jointly by the Consolidated Gas Electric Light and Power Company of Baltimore 
and the Pennsylvania Water & Power Company. 



Map showing the 70,000-volt line which system with the new hydroelectric develop 

brings power from the development at Holt- ment at Safe Harbor. The 220,000-volt line, 

wood, on the Susquehanna, to Baltimore, which will approach Baltimore to the east of 

and the new 220,000-volt line now under the city, is scheduled for construction in 

construction to connect the Consolidated \'i • ; . 


Electricity from Holt wood and Safe Harbor comes Baltimore city over two lower lines* and eventually a 
third, as indicated by the broken line on this map, will be erected* Circling the city and affording high-tension 
distribution is the 66,000-volt ring, 




# "21 sctri city is one of the most wonderful forces placed 
ready for the service of mankind; yet it's one of the things which hid 
its secret longest from us. It can light a city, supply power for 
lifting the heaviest weights, drive trains and trolleys, cook a dinner, 
;ieal a sick child, and kill us if we're not careful." It was first dis- 
covered by a Greek named Thales {700 B.C,,J who noticed the magnetic 
effects of amber when rubbed with" another material. From the Greek name 
of amber, ,r Elektron", Dr. Gilbert (1540-1603) gave tha name "electricity" 
to the condition which heat and friction excited in similar circumstances. 
Otto von Guericke (1602-1686) of the Madgeburg Sphere fame, and Sir Isaac 
"ewton further developed the uses of this magnetic property and Francis 
Hawksbee directed attention to the similarity of sparks produces by rub- 
bing a glass cylinder with silk to lightning. 

Stephen Gray, a Bluecoat boy in London, at the beginning of 
the 18th century initiated electric transmission by sending a current 
created by friction through 886 feet of pack-thread. His experiments 
were further developed by a Frenchman, Du Fay (1699-1739)' who found that 
electricity is of two kinds, positive and negative. 

The Leyden Jar was made in Holland (1745) simultaneously by a 
monk named Cunaeus, an inventor named von Zlelst, and a University of leyden 
professor named van russchenbroeck, and was perfected in "airland by Sir 
'Villi am ".ntson. Results of this creation proved that the action of elec- 
tricity is instantaneous, a significant fact. 
* Book of Knowled 


About this time (1752) Benjamin Franklin (17G6-1790) per- 
formed his famous kite experiment provim-: that lightning is electricity. 
Ea also found that son clouds are charged with positive electricity and 
some negative. 

Alessar.dra Tolta (1745-1826) in 1800 gave the world his 
Voltaic Cell; later, Sir Humphrey Davy (1778-1829) with his Roydl In- 
stitution battery of 2,000 cells produced an electric arc between two 
carbons; and In 1831 Michael Faraday (1791-1867) discovered the principles 
of the magneto-raa chine, which was the forerunner of the modern dynamo. 


Although these men, and others, discovered electrical 
phenomena and ap lied them in elementary experiments, its capabilities 
were utilized to the fullest ext Thomas Alva idison (1847-1931), 
the "'Vizard of lienlo Park". Probably no other individual has done so 
much to lighten '.nan's work, prolctng the daylight Into his leisure time, 
ai-d, In general, provide for a more comfortable and enjoyable existence, 

* "Within the span of Edison's life practically the whole electrical de- 
velopment as exemplified in central station generation in rred. 
Light at t -e touch of a button, power at the throw of a switch, when, 
where and as wonted, are commonplaces of our daily lives. Yet these 
"orces have so altered the way of doing the world's work that life has 

bee a brighter, healthier, happier for millions of people of all 
races, of all colors, of all creeds." 

When ;diso:i first became interested in electro light he 
realized Immediately tnat the light was too bright, and too bi . hat 
people wanted was "little lights, and a distribution of them to -neople's 

* .ltimore Oas and Jlectric Hews. 

4. The first electric fixture ever made for tht incandescent 
lamp, made of wood and used by Mr* Edison at the Menlo Park 
Deraons traiion* 

5. A few of the original incandescent lamps, hand made. 
(From an Early Issue of The Baltimore Gas Electric News) 


houses. " Financed "by Grovernor P. lowry the Sdison Electric Light Com- 
pany was formed to effect these results. 

_ - -" ! i - ,J : ' : ] "' r 

Almost ir'iiaudiately the idea of developing the arc lamps 
was abandoned in favor of the idea of t.:o incandescBnt lamp, :count 

ion in developing satisfactory filaments for practical 
use is a history wl . Platinum alloys with oxide coatings, 

carbonized oot ^read, banb o and other materials were tried separately 
.5 combinations, until '.-. ie a-> rbon filar ant (later re by 
tur ■ i accepted as the ideal material* 

: .: . . • : i. 

But even with a tp available t) of 

universal electric I solved — that of dis 4 Lbution, idea 

under his su; rursuefl and 

necessary invest >f demand were inadei .'he first e 

r 4, 188S at the fai 
loc -ic cur. ;; a dyr ' his own 

design , distrj his ow ton burned la 

his own invention, 

CTK ___ „__ 

>s tells in i 
was fir . '.-.,. to voltmeters'*, state , "We didn't 

';■ ' L clans el her, 

could guess could 

ire, so a ' used tc hingle nail, tie 

it oi a stri r n heavy 


eurr >ter. It • . to the 

oder ve screwed r jost t md in this way kept the 

)S loo!:' ... 

Le with all sorts of mac l, motors, 
clockwork, electro- 3, spr! , electrolysis, and electro- 
Sepoaition. lved, to answer 

perfectly. It consists of a small glass cell, c^ a solution in 
which two zi: ire immersed. A cert- art 

ent rir. • the buil throi mbinati an electro- 

plating actior is set u le cell, zi? c sited one p] 

from the other. -ell-known scientific law, a ourrent of 

certain strength wil deposit just ih zinc in a give , nc re 

: no less. Therefor Is easy to ■ plates are 

perl iy wei;hed, t e amount t lied between the times of 
weighi culated to a nicety." 

It ia interest! , that fehe voltage on the ordinary 
ic lamp has re nained z x s same as that used on 

3dison's first li -:ts, that the pear-shaped bulb first selected has con- 
tinued in use, and that the Sdison three-wire network now supplies Balti- 
more's downtown section. 

aLacmioiry i. :um. ore 

The first current used for 11 . purposes in 3re 
was al tenia tin/; 25 cycle current at low voltage: that, for power was direct 
current at 500 volts. The town was small and compact, so power was ^uct 
distributed by overhead wiring. £5 cycle cur ras unsi story f.r 
iting purposes so i;, 1904 the illan Street Station was erected to 


feed the newly installs! jldiso:-: three— wire network, which covered what 
Is now the wh.<ls downtown business soct. n, .'he sane year all overhead 
transmission ?nd distribution system in the fire zone was destroyed by 
the Baltimore fire of February 7. 

Direct current low-tension systems find their principal field 
of applic in the business and thickly settled residential districts 
of lar^e cities, lighting service in theaters, -power for elevators, ar.d 
loads of this nature de continuous and reliable source of eneir 

In early ourrent distribution in Baltimore the overhead dis- 
tribution system was unsightly and impracticable in a large city and as 
. :. system was found that could replace the D. C, net. '7ith 
numerous feeders and c :>n tnntly varying load adequate devices were 
not yet invented or perfected to prevent trouble. So the Edison Three- 
's, underground network for D. C. distribution was used. 

. j ispiser : t.:;- ,; 

The new system (illustrated) consisted of a network of three- 
wire conduit with a member in almost every street and a feeder junction box 
at most intersections, so that there was in effect a uositive net, a nega- 
tive net, and a neutral net cove; the zona. Now these rs ran 

sther in the same conduits but ware separate individual cables, the 
neutral being a small bar© wire while the tw "outside" wires were £, 000,000 
circular rail stranded wire, paper insulated and lead shielded. {See illus- 

The system originates in a power generating plant (hydro- or 
stear?) supplying any number of sub-stations over high tension lines. 

■ - Station* nowv feedino the D.Criet 
^,tictmti - New A.C- network territory 


Each sub- station steps the voltage down to a lower value to se.i'd to 
various plants or small transformer stations. If it is to sup ly a net- 
work as described above rotary converters rectify the A. C. to D. C. and 
send it to a static . "bus line". ProM this bus feeders lead to various 
junctions of the network, ^s sub-station they are numerous 

and require an enormous duct to carry them. lhan, as they pass on through 
the network they are led off, one by one, to rious junctions in the 

J -::h:^ ... J duct syst.i.. 

is system for distribution is housed in what is known as 
the manhole and du?t system. The three cables are lead through ducts to 
manholes (7'0 H x 3'6 W and 4' 4;, "high) located at most intersections, '/here 
feedars tie into jt, junction boxes are ilaced on the nails of the 
manholes and are equipped with open link, copper, or alloy fuses. To 
eliminate incorrect opening of feeder lines, a system of pilot-wire pro- 
tection for feeders wes devised which opened the feeder only in case the 
fault was in the feeder itself. To protect the entire network each section 
(say a city block) is fused, so that if a fault occurs in it, only that 
part of the systeni is cut off. 

Ordinary lighting loads are tapped directly from these sections, 
but if an industrial plant, hospital or some such customer be supplied, a 
feeder may run directly to their supply in add i tic n to t\e tapped mains. 


Concentric wire cable was available in which both positive 
and negative lines are in one cable. It resembles the type shown except 
that strand wire was wrapped cylindrically about the insulated central 

Customers tap off these members 




<k N 



Junction Box 






S , 

tatLon Bus 


Fe e d er :: 1 




* Paper insulation applied 
ii. graduated layers and 
treated with CGj gas. 





Fig. 12 

{I'hoto. Xt>, 494650) 

Single-conductor, shielded, Type H, paper-insulated cable 


conductor formi/g the other conductor. In cross section it would look 
the same except that a circle of wire ends would be see:: midway of the 
tlation bet eei; ^;he center conductor and the metallic coating. 

The concentric sable would work all right, but was unsatis- 
factory in locating faults. If, for instance, a fault occurs sonewhere 
in the line currer.t may leak from the copper wire to t :e lead cable (in 
the eingls conductor cable) and "burn clear*. On the other hand, in the 
concentric cable the burn may be from copper to copper and may continue 
for quite a distance and do extended dama -es to the network instead of 
making a point fault as In the single conductor type, 

BATTZ'-iy t 

As stated above, much of the service in tha business district 
must be continuous and reliable. Such service Is impossible from generators 
where a continuously changi ; load is on "cue line, because the speed of 
the generator would have to be regulated to do so. So a huge storage 
battery is "floated" on the system. 

Storage batterier fulfill four requirements when "floated" on 
central station systems. ITirst, there is a maximum load for only about 
;ne hour or two during the day. This is not enou;i to justify boosting 
the generators, and the battery is ne most satisfactory of the many 
schemes devised to supuly the extra energy. 

Second, there are a few minimum load hours when low capacity 
operation of generators is uneconomical, from the standpoint of operating 
efficiency a' d also manpower. .Jo rati as a n + ire shift car. be eliminated 
by the use of batteries. 

Third, It is Impossible to generate cor, start power sup 
when the load is constantly chan ing, A battery floating on the line 
will deliver immediately with increased lo ; absorb the charge on 
decres ed load, giving the system the necessary versatility. 

finally, there are small annex stations where the entire 
load c • lore economically supplied from a battery than from generat- 
ing equipment. Mention is made ir. another sect: 3. of this thesis of 
various battery installations in i-'altinore service, 

D2::u:s. :.# p. c. m j?M"-vtioi: 

As the city expanded it outgrew direct current distribution. 
Line losses are great over long transmission distance unless high voltage 
(60,000-100,000 volts) is used. High voltage D. "". is uneconomical, and 
if alternatinr current Is to be transmitted rotary converters or mercury 
arc rectifiers must transfonn it to direct T cit to sup ly It t the 
network. This machinery, however, is less efficient and more expensive 
than transformers, so ji. C. distribution was experimented with in 
attamp - tisfy tne ever increasing needs of a gr city. 

a result of experimentation a three-wire network has been 
devised and i 'astalled over 7O5S of the A. C. area In Baltimore's 
downtown section. The Co] pany does not intend, of 

Gouts*, 60 junk their ^12,0C- ,000 worth of D. . chinery and its distri- 
but' ;;tem, but t >e cheaper and more satisfactory alter ating current 

-ry is use 11 where possible v ;-laces 


I see'ns tJ be the abandonment of direct cur- 
rant distributi -,:■. ir. !ar-o cities. 


Electric system Handbook- Clarence H. Sanderson 

Publications of the Consol, G, S, L. & P. Co, of Baltimore City: 
The Baltimore Gas and Electric News 
Power Pictorial 
Gas Centenary 1816-1916 
Blue Book /;5-"The Company's Electric System During 25 Yeers "- 

Richard H» Lang, Chief Operator, Electric stations 
Annual Report and Year Book 
The Consol. G. E. L, & P, Co, and Its Constituent Companies^- Charters, 
Mortgages, and Releases 

Book of Knowledge 
Encyclopoedia Britanica 

Life History of Thomas Alva Edison- Francis Arthur Jones 
Edison, The Man and His V.ork- George o. Bryan