McGuire Years 1920-1957

By the turn of the twentieth century across the United States and in other countries, electricity had powered an industry that produced helpful machines for the housekeepers’ daily chores, including vacuum cleaners (1912) that promised to restore bright colors to rugs and carpets; and automatic pop-up toasters (1919) that cut the time it took to brown bread on both sides.[i]

The 1920s: A Decade of Change

With the decade of the 1920s came the Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitution and women’s right to vote. The decade also brought the first publication of Reader’s Digest, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh; the debut of the first motion picture with sound, The Jazz Singer; and the first trans-Atlantic flight, completed by Charles Lindbergh.[ii]

Changing Electrical Rates (1920)

The McMinnville Water and Light Commission established patterns of operation in its organization and management during the utility’s early years. During the few years before 1920, the Water and Light Commission encouraged the use of household electrical appliances, including water heaters. Consumers paid a flat monthly rate for this service instead of the metered rate charged for electric lighting. In early 1920, however, electrical rates increased, largely due to a shortage of timber and its skyrocketing costs. Consumers paid $9 for 100 KWH; $16 for 200 KWH; and $31 for 500 KWH. Meters became the norm to measure power use after 1920, including electricity used for cooking, lighting and water heating. Both commercial and residential power users paid the same increased rate; however all users still paid a flat rate for water.

Wood as the Primary Fuel

The McMinnville utility used wood as the primary fuel to operate both of its electrical generation plants. An entry in the Water and Light Commission’s Minutes, on January 9, 1920, records the price of a cord of wood as $6, a very high price at the time; nevertheless, the plant needed the fuel to generate McMinnville’s electricity. Fortunately, the Commission had a friend in G. S. Wright, a former senator from Yamhill County. Wright negotiated with the State of Oregon for prison labor to cut wood for the hydroelectric plant. Interestingly, this action not only saved the Commission a little money; it also made way for further development of the water and power systems.

Prison Labor and Jimmy the Flea

The crew lead was a man known as Jimmy the Flea, who, as Victoria Case relayed the story to her Sunday Oregonian readers, was “a skilled ‘paperhanger’ whose rubber checks had bounced all over the Northwest. Glad to be out on holiday, appreciative of the good food and pleasant surroundings, these men worked like beavers and actually marked a turning point in the history of the light department.” [iii]

Milton McGuire: A Visionary Leader

A new era began for the municipal utility at the dawn of its third decade when the Water and Light Commission appointed Milton McGuire as superintendent of the electric division. Born in Maine, McGuire came to Oregon with his parents, completing high school in Albany. After graduating, he obtained a job at Ralston Electric, in Albany, as an office boy. As the years passed, he worked his way up to construction crew foreman. Later in life, remembering his years as foreman, McGuire said, “This was the best schooling I ever had. My work took me to all parts of the Northwest, from southern Oregon into Washington, and I had to meet many problems and solve them of my own accord.” This experience prepared him for the future that lay ahead.

Milt McGuire’s Contributions

Moving to McMinnville in 1913 with the intention of starting his own business, McGuire purchased the Standard Electric Company from O. E. Vanoose. During this time, the McMinnville Water and Light Commission took notice of McGuire “as a man likely to conduct that system on an economical and efficient basis” and, in 1920, hired him as superintendent of its electric division. Selling his business to Howard Miller, McGuire went to work tackling the division’s problems eagerly. He directed the installation of new systems and with other improvements sent the division into an almost prosperous trend. Known as “Milt”, he became manager of the electric and power divisions in 1928 and brought national recognition to the municipal utility. His reputation earned him the recognition as one of the nation’s outstanding utility managers. Under McGuire’s guidance, McMinnville Water and Light expanded to become a major power producer and an important participant in the Northwest Power Pool and the Bonneville Power Administration. In McMinnville, Milton McGuire served as president of the Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club; as a member of the school board; and as Chaplain and member of the Elks Lodge; Master and member of Union Lodge 43; 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Mason; a member of the Order of Red Cross of Constantine, and a Shriner. McGuire became a professional engineer in 1932, and he received the Fuller Memorial Award for his outstanding contribution to the water works profession in the spring of 1942. In 1947, he received the honor of having a Northwest Public Power Association (NWPPA) award created in his name, and he received an honorary degree from Linfield College in 1958. Also during his lifetime, McGuire served as chairman of the Northwest section of the American Water Works Association (AWWA), National Director of the AWWA, director of the NWPPA, and as chairman of the board for the First Federal Savings and Loan Association. He served on the County Welfare Committee, as chairman of the BPA Advisory Council and he received the Community Service Award, in 1959, from the City Club of Portland for outstanding contribution to civic, community and county improvement in Oregon.[iv]

Challenges and Financial Situation

At the time of McGuire’s appointment, McMinnville Water and Light’s outstanding debt included an overdraft of $40,000 and bonds totaling $75,000, some dating from the 1888 installation of the water and power plant on the Yamhill River. Rising costs caused much concern at a time when the municipality’s debt increased at the rate of $3,000 per month. In January 1922, the Commission received detailed reports, submitted by Water Superintendent Brower and Light Superintendent McGuire, which evaluated the systems’ net worth: the water system was worth $189,842.72; the electric division’s value was $132,702.38. All the while, requests from the citizens of McMinnville for expansion of both water and electric services kept coming.[v]

With greater awareness about every-day tasks made easier with electric-powered appliances and machines, demands for electrical power were greater than ever in the early 1920s, and dealers of electrical appliances capitalized on the development by mobilizing a sales force. For example, in April 1921, a gathering of 200 electrical dealers in Portland listened to lectures about electrical appliances, advertising and salesmanship methods. Promoters encouraged the salesforce to talk with local builders about wiring homes and businesses for the coming new lines of appliances and demonstrated methods for placing appliances on display in store windows to entice consumers. Advertisements of the era promoted the use of appliances with headlines like “Every Woman Wants an Electric Washing Machine”.[vi]

Infrastructure Development

In August of 1921, A. C. Snyder joined McMinnville Water and Light as chief operator of the City’s power plant, just as mechanics completed $2,800 in needed repairs on the engines at the Baker Creek facility. A few months later, in October, the Commission received a proposition for a power plant at Meadow Lake from City Engineer R. W. Jones. During the same meeting, it directed Jones to complete a survey and file the proper maps and data necessary to obtain power rights for the City of McMinnville. In November, the Commission directed Jones to weir (measure) the Nestucca River, place a gauge for recording the rainfall in the same vicinity and gather other data in connection with the proposed new site.

McGuire’s Contributions and Electrical Generation Plant

The following August, Superintendent Brower reported the receipt of an order authorizing the installation of a fish ladder on the diversion dam at Haskins Creek from the state game warden, and in September the Commission directed Superintendent McGuire to consult with the state engineer regarding continued development of the Meadow Lake project. The Commission also requested Mayor H. S. Houck to sign and execute a contract with the California Filter Company for the purchase and installation of filters at the City’s service reservoir.

In early 1923, The Commission authorized a $3,000 payment toward Water and Light Refunding Bonds, due in 1924. In May, it hired J. L. Stannard, a competent engineer from Tacoma, Washington, to take borings and test the soil at the proposed Meadow Lake dam site location at the same time it authorized Superintendent McGuire to proceed with the $625 estimate from Olson Machine Works for repairing a small engine at the power plant.[vii]

A special report, submitted to the Commission by Superintendent McGuire in late 1923, showed the output of power generated by the Baker Creek Hydroelectric Plant as almost equal to the McMinnville area’s power consumption. Previously, in April 1921, the Commission directed a double throw switch installed on all electric water heaters, which allowed for the disconnection of power from the water heater whenever a consumer used electricity to power a cooking range. This simple step helped conserve electrical usage and curve the rising costs of electrical production and usage, but the Commission still faced growing challenges. In late January 1924, McGuire submitted another report that showed the comparative cost of purchasing electric power versus manufacturing power locally through the operation of a diesel-oil-burning-engine.[viii]

Expansion and Development of a New Electrical Generation Plant

After hearing McGuire’s report, the Commission placed an advertisement requesting bids for a diesel-oil-burning-engine, and in February, after reviewing the bids received, accepted the proposal from Fairbanks-Morse for a 600 HP diesel engine. About two weeks later, the Commission received and accepted the proposal of a switchboard from the General Electric Company. These purchases launched the development and construction of a new electrical generation plant, for the City of McMinnville, which completely dismissed the need for purchasing electrical power from outside sources.[ix]

Construction of the New Power Plant

The Commission located and purchased property for the new power plant at the corner of First and “I” streets (now Fifth and Irvine) in downtown McMinnville. It also approved a fuel oil contract with the Standard and Union Oil Companies in March, and on April 21, 1924, authorized a $7,893 contract with Hord Brooks Company, Inc. for construction of the new plant. The fuel required for McMinnville’s electrical generation now included diesel oil in addition to the wood burned at the Baker Creek Power Plant. When the new diesel engine arrived, crews placed it on a foundation form while construction workers built the brick, metal, and glass structure around it. The cost of the new diesel engine plant, including that of equipment, material, labor, and real estate, totaled $60,548.05. The plant began operation on July 5, 1924.[x]

Administration and Personnel Changes

Previously, in September of 1923, the Water and Light Commission assumed responsibility for processing the City Collector’s salary, removing the duty from McMinnville National Bank. On September 3, 1924, the Commission hired Miss Mina Redmond for the role of Collector of utility bill payments from its customers. Shortly thereafter, during the November election that year, McMinnville voters passed and enacted a charter amendment authorizing and empowering the Water and Light Commission to appoint a Clerk. Thus, Mina Redmond became the first Clerk of the Commission.[xi]

Mina Redmond’s Role and Office Relocation

Growing up in McMinnville, Mina Redmond graduated from the local high school, then known as Lincoln High. After spending one year at Oregon State College, she gained employment with the DeHaven Hardware Company and then later with the Oregon Mutual Fire Insurance Company (previously known as the Oregon Fire Relief Association). Oregon Mutual had recently constructed a beautiful new building on Fifth Street between Cowls and Davis streets, and vacated its former home on Third and Cowls streets. Then known as the Oregon Fire Relief building, the “1894 Bank” structure had once housed McMinnville’s First National Bank. In late 1924, after spending its first 25 years within the City of McMinnville’s offices located on Cowls between Second and Third streets, McMinnville Water and Light moved to its own quarters in the old Oregon Fire Relief Building, just around the corner. Mina Redmond began her position as Clerk of the Commission in the utility’s new offices on November 13, 1924. Acting as the commission’s stenographer, she also remained in charge of billing and collecting accounts for both the water and electric departments. Customers visiting the McMinnville Water and Light office became familiar with her “efficient and courteous treatment in the handling of their transactions over the counter”, and she became one of the City’s most popular employees. Those who knew her remembered Mina Redmond’s careful attention to the minutest details of her job as Clerk of the Commission and her polite manner in every transaction she performed.[xii]

National and Local Context of Rural Electrification

Meanwhile, in London, England, World Power Conference attendees watched a presentation that compared rural area access to electricity by country, and the information showed that the US lagged behind other countries. In contrast, when compared to the rest of the nation, Oregon’s rural communities showed a higher rate of electrification than the other rural areas across the country by 1930. During sessions of Oregon’s Legislature in the 1910s and 1920s, Senator George Joseph presented many ideas about state or municipal ability to produce and distribute power, but most people disregarded his efforts in developing hydroelectric power generation. Generally, history credits private enterprise for advancements in rural electrification. It is interesting to note that many private companies assumed control of smaller community-based or cooperative utilities in rural areas that faced monetary difficulties. McMinnville Water and Light was ahead of the times as a municipal utility producing hydroelectric power and distributing it to rural consumers. It served as one of America’s pioneers in this regard; however, this was not without struggle. There was increasing pressure to purchase electricity from outside sources, namely privately owned utilities, but the Commission remained determined to remain an independent arm of McMinnville, operating as a municipally owned utility.[xiii]

Conservation and Expansion

The Commission adopted a resolution, in early 1925, stating preliminary steps for the protection of its watershed and the City’s water supply from contamination. Yamhill County delegates at the State Legislature ensured the resolution served as the basis of legislation with the key objective of protecting the City’s water supply, and a secondary purpose of providing capital for future infrastructure expansion through the eventual sale of timber growing on watershed lands. McMinnville Water and Light’s conservation and utilization of a portion of the Oregon Coast Range watershed was part of a pioneering movement in environmental stewardship. The national conservation movement began around the turn of the twentieth century with proponents Theodore Roosevelt, founder of the United States Forest Service (USFS) and National Parks Service, and Gifford Pinchot, a leader in sustainable resource management and founder of the American Society of Foresters. Later, as President of the United States, Roosevelt appointed Pinchot as the first chief of the USFS in 1905. Originally, the USFS oversaw the management of forests in the western United States; however, it expanded to cover the entire nation with the passage by Congress of the Weeks Act in 1911. Written by Representative John Weeks, the act encouraged public acquisition of private land to conserve the natural environment, slowing clear-cut logging and encouraging best practices in forest management. Nearly 150 years of over-logging, which took place as part of westward migration and the building of cities from the east to west coasts, caused massive tracks of land to become barren. Through the Weeks Act, Conservationists sought “sustainable care of forests to protect the headwaters of rivers and watersheds”, resulting in habitat for plants and animals, recreational areas and clean water for thriving communities. Instead of spending money on treating contaminated water, sound forest management practices reduced costs in the long-run. McMinnville Water and Light’s watershed development serves as an excellent example of the early twentieth century’s national conservation movement; and the Commission continues to follow best practices in forest management today.[xiv]

Infrastructure Expansion and Power Generation

Focusing on both water supply and the growing need for additional electrical power, the Water and Light Commission authorized Superintendent Brower to survey two possible impounding dam sites located on Haskins Creek in September 1925 and in December directed him to purchase 2,000 feet of water pipe. In early 1926, after authorizing a survey of the lower dam area based on J. L. Stannard’s Meadow Lake project report, the Commission turned its focus to a projected power shortage. It prepared a resolution describing the emergency created by the lack of generated electrical energy needed to supply the City and the urgent need for the supplemental energy generated by a new engine and accompanying equipment. Placing an advertisement in the local papers, the Commission requested bids for a 700-750 HP diesel engine. Reviewing and rejecting all bids during its March 1 meeting, the Commission advertised again – this time requesting bids for a 600 HP diesel engine. Continuing its pursuit of the proposed Haskins Creek impounding dam, the Commission prepared a resolution to acquire and protect all of the water flowing in Haskins Creek from contamination (see Appendix I). Accepting the $39,978 proposal of the Busch-Sulzer Company, of St. Louis, Missouri, for one 600 HP 4 cycle engine with a General Electric alternator and direct connected exciter, the Commission signed and executed a contract with the company on March 30, 1926. The new engine and equipment arrived in mid-July and McMinnville Water and Light workers installed it soon thereafter.[xv]

In the latter part of 1926, the Commission prepared a bond issue resolution for the construction of an impounding dam and a 100-million-gallon reservoir on Haskins Creek. Voters approved the bond issue during a general election held in November, and in early February 1927 the Commission applied for a permit from the state engineer to construct the dam. On March 3, local contractor J. C. Compton won the $69,310 construction contract for a combination earth and rock fill dam. Soon after, the Commission hired R. W. Jones as engineer on the dam, for $3,000, and in early August accepted the bid of Pierce, Fair and Company for $25,000 in Water and Light Bonds, as approved by voters the previous November. A year later, the new Haskins Creek Impounding Dam was complete.[xvi]

Rural Electrification Challenges and Regulatory Changes

As discussed previously, during the early years, the McMinnville Water and Light Commission hesitated to purchase electrical power from the Yamhill Electric Company and Portland General Electric due to cost; it could produce the electricity cheaper. Ironically, the opposite happened in rural areas across America, including the Pacific Northwest and Oregon. On one hand, private electric companies hesitated to expand their lines from urban to rural areas because they did not see a cost benefit. On the other hand, the rates charged by commercial companies in rural areas exceeded those charged in cities, with the excess rates meant to cover extra costs; however, this did not make sense because rural users generally paid for the cost of lines extended from the city to farming communities. Rural communities began demanding electrification and sought a champion for their cause in the early twentieth century. In 1913, United States Secretary of Agriculture James Wilson responded by conducting an electrical farm census. The following year saw the first lawsuit in the United States concerning the sale of electricity and rates for the same in the State of Pennsylvania. As a result, of the lawsuit, Pennsylvania issued General Order No. 27, which specified that companies operating in rural areas must extend their lines when selling electrical power in places where at least one contracting consumer per mile existed. The rule further stipulated that the companies pay the extra cost of the extension where there were three or more customers per mile.

Gifford Pinchot, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the Birth of Rural Electrification in America

After leaving the USFS and serving for a time as chair of the Pennsylvania Forest Commission, Gifford Pinchot became Governor of Pennsylvania in January 1923. One issue he focused on as Governor was a means to bring electricity to underserved rural areas, and it is through this effort that we see Pinchot’s influence on another Roosevelt. New York governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt had the same vision for his state and, in the near future, would enact it at the national level. In the meantime, representatives from commercial industries and farm organizations met on September 11, 1923 to form the Committee on the Relation of Electricity to Agriculture (CREA). This committee studied the feasibility of electrifying rural America; however, CREA sparked controversy between those who wished to keep “rural electrification in commercial hands” and those who championed public power. During the mid-1920s, the Pennsylvania state legislature authorized Governor Pinchot to conduct a “Giant Power” survey of electrical utilities. The idea behind Giant Power was a government-based program ensuring equal distribution of electrical power to factories and homes in the city as well as rural areas. The survey looked at power generation and distribution across Pennsylvania and the social needs for the same. Pinchot recruited Morris Llewellyn Cooke to head the Giant Power survey and he presented his plan for a statewide electrical grid and regulations for cheaper and reliable electricity for everyone, placing social needs over profit. This idea of public power would gain popularity across the United States in coming years, bringing benefits to McMinnville Water and Light customers.[xvii]

Legal Battles and Political Struggles: McMinnville’s Fight for Rural Electrification and Municipal Utility Independence

Meanwhile, back in Oregon, in 1927, the Yamhill Electric Company, of Newberg, initiated a lawsuit against the City of McMinnville and the McMinnville Water and Light Commission to prevent the sale of electricity beyond the City’s boundaries. According to Yamhill Electric, McMinnville Water and Light’s status as a municipal utility prohibited it from extending electrical lines beyond the city limits. On September 14, the Yamhill Electric Company prevailed in Yamhill County Circuit Court. Making the next move, the McMinnville Water and Light Commission appealed to the Oregon Supreme Court with Chief Counsel Jay Bowerman and City Attorney R. L. Conner perfecting and prosecuting the appeal. The Supreme Court overturned the ruling in favor of the municipal utility.[xviii]

Not satisfied with the Oregon Supreme Court ruling, Yamhill Electric filed the case with the US Supreme Court. It argued that by selling power beyond the city limits, the municipal utility violated the fourteenth amendment and confiscated property without due process of law. Refusing to review Yamhill Electric’s appeal on January 20, 1930, the US Supreme Court held that no federal question was involved in McMinnville Water and Light’s operations. Thus, the Oregon Supreme Court’s ruling stood, giving the City and its utility a major victory in its continued ability to extend and sell electrical service outside the city limits. The Eugene Water Board, another Oregon municipal utility with a strong interest in the case, helped to offset the $10,000 lawsuit costs incurred by the City. McMinnville Water and Light’s victory set a precedent for municipally owned utilities across the United States. Coupled with Pennsylvania’s General Order 27, it also helped set a foundation for the spread of public power.[xix]

The Yamhill Electric Company, a subsidiary of PGE, may have had ulterior motives to buy McMinnville Water and Light. The company attempted to induce the City to sell out its system on numerous occasions; however, several mayors and the members of the Commission vigorously opposed PGE.[xx] Firmly establishing itself by the late 1920s, the municipality managed to stave off further attempts to buy out its utility, but in late 1928 and early 1929, it faced another battle – this time against state legislative forces. Utilities in Ashland, Medford, Eugene, Pendleton, Astoria, Corvallis, and Milton-Freewater joined forces with McMinnville to block the passage of three bills designed to place municipally owned utilities under state regulation and on the tax rolls. House bill 247 provided for private corporations to gain control over municipal utilities, and House Bills 251 and 253 enabled the taxation of all publicly owned utilities. With the combined strength of Oregon’s public utilities, the bills did not pass. Interestingly, during the 1928-29 session of the Oregon State Legislature, 300 gallons of drinking water, transported daily to Salem, came from the McMinnville watershed.[xxi]

Leadership and Challenges: McMinnville Water and Light in the 1930s

Milton McGuire became McMinnville Water and Light’s first general manager in February 1928. During the next twenty-nine years, he guided the utility through tremendous growth and expansion. As part of McGuire’s appointment, the Commission retired the position of superintendent of lights, creating the position of general manager. Additional appointments included Joe Brower as superintendent of water; A. C. Snyder as chief operator; Frank Wood, Sherman Lange, Elmer Davenport, W. H. Hauser and A. E. Wind as operators; A. R. Clevenger and L. G. Small as linemen; and Ray Clevenger as assistant to the water superintendent. While it transferred the responsibilities for daily direction and activities of the utility to General Manager McGuire, the Commission remained as policy maker for McMinnville Water and Light.[xxii] After becoming general manager, McGuire developed a system of maintaining accounts, which corresponded closely to the later requirements of the Federal Power Commission’s uniform system of accounting. For example, although maintained separately, the water and electric divisions of the Commission had one bank account.[xxiii]

In 1929, McMinnville Water and Light turned 40 and the Great Depression seized the US – and the world – with a malaise that did not stop for over a decade. National unemployment levels rose from 3.2 percent in 1929 to a peak of 24.9 percent in 1933, with more than 12.8 million people out of work. Oregonians felt the squeeze of bank failures and business closures along with the rest of the US. State unemployment levels were still at 9.7 percent in 1940, partially due to farm workers attracted to Oregon but unable to find gainful employment upon arrival.[xxiv]

The decade of the 1930s brought Mickey Mouse to the silver screen and the invention of Scotch Brand Cellulose Tape by 3M employee Richard Drew. Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics; the Hindenburg, a German airship, burned while Americans listen to their radios in horror; Gone with the Wind received a “Best Picture” Academy Award, Superman debuted, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt became America’s thirty-second president.[xxv]

Expanding Capacity and Efficiency

In McMinnville, the supply of electricity fell short of demand in 1930 amidst the financial hardships facing the country. Acting quickly, the Commission requested and fortunately received approval from local voters for additional municipal bonds (issued by the United States National Bank of McMinnville) to purchase another Busch-Sulzer Brothers 1,500 horsepower diesel engine and a General Electric generator for $91,425. In her Sunday Oregonian article, published on July 7, 1935, Victoria Case tells the story of Milt McGuire and the engines for the new plant.

“The new installation cost $120,000 and attracted the attention of engineers all over the United States. Mr. McGuire went to the Busch-Sulzer plant in St. Louis to superintend the testing of the new unit. Six railway cars were required to ship the new Diesel unit to McMinnville.”

Case also discussed McGuire’s regiments of maintenance and cleanliness at the Diesel Plant.

“He ordered, insisted, inspected and pushed the staff to a degree of cleanliness regarded as “sissy” by most engineers. Engines are all newly painted, polished and wiped; floors, walls and ceilings are spotless; windows are clean inside and out and the building fresh with paint.”

Commenting for the article, McGuire said, “Our plant is listed in the place of honor year after year in the lists showing low maintenance costs in Diesel plants. They get figures from all over the country and we beat ‘em all.”

The Diesel Plant engines began generating electricity in March of 1931 and for the first time in forty years the utility kept ahead of demands for electricity by the growing City, while cutting costs. After just twenty-one months of operating the Diesel Plant with all three engines, McMinnville Water and Light cleared much of its back debt. It operated with a surplus of thirty-nine percent in 1934 and by 1935, the utility was nearly out of debt and valued at approximately $500,000. Not only did the utility slash its customers’ rates by 33 percent between 1920 and 1933, the removal of debt enabled the Commission to address needed repairs on the Haskins Creek Impounding Dam and install gates at the reservoir for water level maintenance. With those tasks complete, the Commission focused on purchasing the additional watershed land necessary to maintain McMinnville’s pure water. [xxvi]

The New Deal Era: Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Vision for Rural Electrification and Infrastructure Development

Nationwide, the country began to heal slowly under the leadership of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his New Deal Program, which brought economic and social reform to the United States. Launched in 1933, components of the New Deal provided needed relief to agricultural communities, introduced banking reform measures, created a social safety-net called Social Security, and put people to work through organizations like the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The WPA served as a relief agency, providing work instead of welfare. Other federal agencies collaborated with the WPA to construct federal buildings like post offices and libraries. Branches of the WPA funded projects for professionals (attorneys, architects, etc.) and individuals with creative skills (artists, writers, photographers, actors, etc.) who produced lasting legacies that documented the era (e.g., murals in post office buildings and oral history preservation that otherwise might have been lost). Major improvements in the nation’s infrastructure also came about under the WPA, employing those with skilled trades to build roads, bridges, airports, schools and dams.

Previously, in September 1932, while on the campaign trail during his run for the presidency, Roosevelt visited Portland, Oregon. Speaking at a rally, he conveyed a vision of harnessing the Columbia River as a public-use source for hydroelectric generation. The “Columbia River System” plan involved constructing a series of dams for power generation; transmission lines for transferring the power from the dams to power distribution stations; and a delivery system to deploy the power from the distribution stations to utilities and ultimate use by households and industries. Oregon’s Senator Charles McNary and Representative Charles Martin were very instrumental in securing funds to begin preliminary work on the future Bonneville Dam in late 1933. Soon after Roosevelt became president, initial construction commenced under Project Number 28 of the emergency funding system, and continued under Title II of the National Industrial Recovery Act, approved by Congress in 1935. Located 40 miles east of Portland in the Columbia River Gorge, the future Bonneville Dam would span three islands (Robins, Bradford and Cascade) in the Columbia River, which serves as a natural border between Oregon and Washington. Situated upstream from the community of North Bonneville, Washington, and across from Bonneville, Oregon, the dam receives its name from Captain Benjamin Bonneville, who explored and promoted Oregon in the early 1800s. The new dam became the largest water impoundment project of its type in the US at the time of its construction. Dam builders, transmission linesmen and other skilled workers performed tasks concurrently to ready the first section of the Columbia River System for electrical power delivery to farms and rural communities in the western United States. Roosevelt visited the dam site in August 1934 to announce his continued support of the project, which costs exceeded initial expectations and totaled more $80 million.[xxvii]

After creating the Rural Electrification Administration through executive order on May 11, 1935, President Roosevelt worked closely with Senator George W. Norris and Congressman Sam Rayburn, encouraging Congress to pass the Rural Electrification Act (REA), which he signed into law on May 20, 1936. The REA provided federal funding for the increased distribution of electricity to farms and rural communities across America. Roosevelt acquired several million dollars in work relief funds to seed the REA, which provided loans to cooperatives, enabling them to construct power lines from distribution centers and transmit the needed electrical energy to farms and rural communities.[xxviii]

McMinnville’s Role in Advancing Rural Electrification and Municipal Utility Innovation

Back in McMinnville, the municipal utility continued producing and delivering electrical service to its city and rural consumers as it had since the late nineteenth century. In 1930, Oregon’s entire population stood at less than one percent of its rural counterparts nationwide, yet nearly 30 percent of Oregon farms used electricity to power every-day tasks. As Oregon’s first municipal utility, McMinnville Water and Light was one of several Oregon electricity-producing pioneer utilities that enabled industries, growing cities and rural communities to enjoy the use of power for lights and electrical appliances, which simplified daily tasks. In sharp contrast to Oregon in 1935, electricity reached just over ten percent of farms and households in other parts of rural America. The opposite was true in other countries. For example, 85 percent of rural households and farms in Denmark utilized electricity, Germany and France achieved 90 percent and Holland reached 95 percent.[xxix]

Enticed by the Water and Light Commission’s residential and commercial rate cuts of up to 20 percent, McMinnville voters approved the sale of $38,000 worth of 1938 series Water and Light Refund Bonds, in October 1936, to pay off the debt incurred by the 1917 series of Water and Light Bonds. The Commission accepted proposals from Hemphill, Fenton and Campbell, and Atkinson, Jones and Company, to purchase the bonds in the spring of 1937. A few months later, it purchased an 1800 BHP Busch-Sulzer Engine from Busch-Sulzer Brothers Diesel Engine Company for $100,617. The transaction included a $10,000 trade in allowance for the old Fairbanks-Morse Engines, generators, exciters and switchboard. With the installation of the new engine and other equipment in 1938, the Water and Light Diesel Plant’s electrical output increased to 2910 HP and the Marley Cooling Tower, also installed in 1938, cut fuel costs dramatically. Not only did the plant increase its electrical output and cut fuel costs, it gained the distinction of being one of the largest diesel power plants in the US. Oregon’s Governor Charles Martin gave the dedicatory address during a ceremony held on Saturday, October 22, 1938.[xxx]

The Columbia River System and the Birth of the Bonneville Power Administration

Public power has three traits: it is locally controlled, it is affordable and it is reliable. Arguably, Roosevelt’s WPA and its Columbia River System project, with the succeeding BPA, brought a legacy of long-term benefits to the Pacific Northwest – and the US West Coast – in the form of jobs, improved flood control, irrigation, river navigation, and low-cost hydroelectricity. BPA Administrator James D. Ross acquired funding for the agency from the Rural Electrification Administration to build the first transmission lines linking Bonneville Dam with Vancouver and Aberdeen, Washington, and The Dalles and Eugene, Oregon. During BPA Administrator Paul Raver’s tenure, the BPA and REA helped form electric cooperatives and public utility districts so that by 1941 more than 30 public utilities served over 40,000 rural consumers in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.[xxxiv]

By the end of 1939, the BPA had 11 contracts to provide electricity in Oregon: seven with public bodies, two with private utilities and two with industrial companies. Three Oregon municipalities executed 20-year contracts and began to enjoy the benefits of electrical power supplied by the BPA during the last quarter of 1939: Cascade Locks, Forest Grove and Canby. All three municipal contracts contained rate structures as well as tax relief provisions, which provided a mechanism for making return-on-investment payments to the cities’ general funds in lieu of taxes.

On October 9, 1939, the McMinnville Water and Light Commission submitted a 20-year, prime power contract proposal to BPA and, after negotiations, the Commission executed it subject to ratification by McMinnville’s voters (see Appendix J). In his 1939 report, BPA’s administrator singled out McMinnville for its unique City charter:

Although signed subsequent to the close of the calendar year 1939, the contract with the City of McMinnville will be mentioned because of its treatment of the problem of resale rates of contractors purchasing Bonneville power.

The City of McMinnville, which is the oldest municipal operation in Oregon, and one of the oldest in the West, owns a hydroelectric plant of the rated capacity of 200 kilowatts, and a Diesel plant with a rated capacity of 2,710 kilowatts. On January 13, 1940, the City signed a contract with the Bonneville Power Administrator … [that] will not become effective until it has been ratified at an election by the people of the City of McMinnville.

The City has a section of its City charter devoted to the fixing and review of electric rates of the municipal plant. In recognition of this local responsibility in control of electric rates, the contract with the City of McMinnville leaves to the City the establishment of resale rates pursuant to the City charter provision, which is incorporated in the contract….

Thus, McMinnville Water and Light’s contract allowed BPA to leave the establishment and annual review of electric resale rates up to the City’s Water and Light Commission. On February 21, 1940, McMinnville’s voters ratified the contract by a vote of 851 to 15. During the summer of 1940, the Commission directed the purchase of necessary equipment for parallel operation of its Diesel Plant with the energy received from Bonneville. It also authorized operation, maintenance and construction activities for high-voltage transmission lines that would connect to lines under construction by the BPA. By late summer, McMinnville Water and Light workers had erected power poles at the northwest corners and intersections of Fourth and Macy, Logan, Kirby, Johnson and Irvine streets, and linesmen were threading the necessary high-voltage power lines to connect the McMinnville area with BPA transmission lines. Just in time for the howling winds and rains of autumn, on October 19, 1940, power from the Bonneville Dam flowed through the McMinnville Water and Light network and into the homes and businesses of its consumers. Thus, just past its fifty-year milestone, McMinnville’s utility became a hydroelectric power distributor for BPA, garnering long-term, inexpensive and reliable electricity for the City’s homes and businesses.[xxxv]

Previously, in 1938, McMinnville’s Water and Light employees numbered 19, and members of the Commission included Mayor Oscar Chenowith, Chair; Commissioners Walter S. Link, since 1912; Hubert L. Toney, since 1918; Gilbert Tilbury, since 1924 and Rudy H. Windishar, newly elected. Focusing once again on the City’s water system, the Commission awarded a contract to the Beall Pipe Company for 37,700 feet of steel pipe and to the Johns-Manville Company for 15,465 feet of transit pipe with which to replace the old main wood pipe that delivered water from Haskins Creek to the service reservoirs on Fox Ridge. The Commission also hired Stevens and Koon to oversee the construction of the new water supply line, completed in late 1941.[xxxvi]

The Post-War Era: Transformations in McMinnville’s Utilities and Infrastructure

America, during the 1940s, enjoyed Marvel Comics superhero Captain America and witnessed the facial carvings of presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt appear on Mount Rushmore. Homemakers utilized a new product called Tupperware® for storing food and other items; Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in a Bell X-1 at Mach 1, flying at 45,000 feet; the first NASCAR® race took place at Charlotte Speedway in North Carolina; George Orwell wrote his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four; and the United States entered World War II.[xxxvii]

For a short time, McMinnville Water and Light continued to supplement the energy from Bonneville Power with electricity from the municipal utility’s Diesel Plant and the Baker Creek Hydroelectric Plant. In December of 1941, General Manager McGuire negotiated an agreement with the BPA to meet increased loads without requiring an increase in the utility’s billing demand. Then, in the early morning hours of December 7, 1941, the US entered World War II with the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. The Pacific Northwest participated in the war effort through airplane factories, shipyards and aluminum plants powered with hydroelectricity. Continuing the momentum gained from the WPA and other programs, Oregon improved its infrastructure through its Department of Transportation. Locally, projects included a realignment of West Side Pacific Highway Number 3 through the cities of Newberg, McMinnville and Corvallis, using existing street surfaces. In McMinnville, the realignment moved traffic from busy Lafayette Avenue, to “B” Street (now Baker) and in 1941 Third Street became the connector between Pacific Highway West and the officially-named Three Mile Lane, which delivered traffic to a recently constructed McMinnville Municipal Airport, activated in December 1943.[xxxviii]

Amendments made to the BPA contract during 1944 compensated McMinnville Water and Light for keeping the Diesel Plant in standby condition. The rising costs for Diesel Plant maintenance during and after World War II made operating it nearly prohibitive. General Manager McGuire asked for further compensation from the BPA; however, instead of reaching an agreement to simply supplement its own generating capacity, the two entities settled on a new contract in 1948, which allowed the municipal utility to purchase all of its power from Bonneville; ending an era of local electricity generation that lasted for nearly 60 years.

With the new contract, the Water and Light Commission focused on constructing a reliable transmission system to handle the ever-increasing consumer demand for electricity. In 1948, when the BPA added a 6,000 kVA transformer to the three-1,000 kVA transformers previously installed, increasing the electrical power from 2,400 to the 7,200 volts, the Commission began the task of converting the utility’s system accordingly to accommodate the improved load, while at the same time reducing peak usage by consumers. The utility purchased electricity from the BPA based on an annual review of peak usage. Using proactive initiative, McMinnville Water Light became one of the first utilities to experiment with the carrier current control system. Fifty homes in McMinnville participated in the experiment with the goal of reducing peak power usage. A 720-cycle signal traveled continually to each home and when use of power increased, drawing more energy than that being supplied the signal caused water heaters and other appliances to shut down. By using this method, the utility controlled peak use and kept costs low.

Addressing needed improvements on the City’s water system, the Water and Light Commission undertook the replacement of the old wood pipeline from the service reservoirs with a 16-inch composite steel pipeline in 1948. Around the same time, the Commission accepted Carl Halverson’s $62,471 proposal to repair and enlarge service reservoir one, and the Henshaw Brothers’ $43,560 proposal for repairing and enlarging service reservoir two. The enhancements increased the combined capacity of the two reservoirs to five-million gallons. Halverson later constructed a roof over both reservoirs, and by late 1950, the project was complete.[xxxix]

After reviewing preliminary research relevant to raising the Haskins Creek Dam, the Commission requested bids for the project. In early 1951, it accepted the $350,669 construction proposal from Miller and Strong of Eugene for the work required to increase the impounding reservoir’s capacity to 250 million gallons. On February 5, 1951, the Water and Light Commission passed a resolution to memorialize long-time commissioner Walter S. Link by renaming the Haskins Creek Dam and Impounding Reservoir in his honor. The resolution read as follows:

WHEREAS the completion of the Haskins Creek storage area is now in progress, and

WHEREAS the culmination of this work will consummate the ambition of one of our most loved and honored commissioners:

It is appropriate and timely to dedicate the beauty and utility resulting from his vision and unremitting effort as an enduring tribute to his memory.

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that in all future references and on maps and records the impounded waters of Haskins Creek shall be known as the Walter S. Link Impounding Reservoir.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that at an appropriate time a suitable marker will be erected at the juncture of the Haskins Creek and Meadow Lake Roads to identify the area, AND THAT on the crest of the dam another marker of bronze and native stone will be placed to identify the project and as a tribute to the thirty-four years of public service which contributed so largely to an accomplishment unique in the field of water supply.

Although Commissioner Gilbert L. Tilbury was absent, the resolution passed by unanimous vote of the Commission, including Mayor W. H. Barendrick, Commissioners Louis Courtemanche Jr., Glen Rowell and Rudy H. Windishar. Appointed to serve on the Commission by Mayor W. T. Vinton in 1912, Link served multiple terms through 1944 before passing away on September 24, 1946, half way through his tenth term.

In a March 1931 News Register article, Link commented about the responsibility belonging to the citizens of McMinnville to be active in civic discourse and government. “Municipal ownership pays certainly,” Link declared. “But its chief enemy is in the disinterest of the citizens of McMinnville. In no small way does the average resident register his inattention toward the development and changes made in the system. For this reason great care should be exercised in the choice of mayor and commission members.” On the utility’s water resources Link said, “Our water system capacity can be increased ten-fold through the additional construction on the impounding reservoir dam raising it to a height of 60 feet if necessary.” Link’s foresight was instrumental in the utility’s purchase of most of the timberlands comprising the watershed from the 1920s into the 1940s resulting in McMinnville’s clean water. By the late 1950s, the utility owned nearly 5,500 acres of choice watershed land, having purchased it from the Federal government and private landowners. Additionally, the prescribed sale of timber, cut from watershed lands, continues to help pay for future expansion of the water system, creating a lasting and renewable legacy.[xl]

A Decade of Expansion and Transformation

While work got underway at the dam, BPA technicians constructed a substation on McMinnville’s east side, creating a 115 kV loop-system, linking Forest Grove and McMinnville. Although McMinnville’s power now came through BPA, the Water and Light Commission still maintained its electrical-generation facilities in standby condition, with the hydroelectric plant operating automatically during winter month peak loads throughout the early 1950s. General Manager McGuire was reluctant to dispose of the Diesel Plant because of concern over Bonneville’s capacity to meet the City’s every-growing electrical generation requirements, so the plant operated as a participant in the Northwest Power Pool.[xli]

During the 1950s, the Civil Rights Movement raised awareness about the issue of racial prejudice and a black woman named Rosa Parks epitomized the subject by refusing to give up her “white only” bus seat in Montgomery, Alabama. The quest to escape Earth’s bounds heightened with Russia’s successful liftoff of the satellite Sputnik into outer space and the United States orbiting Earth with Explorer I. Back on the planet, the United States launched the USS Nautilus, its first nuclear submarine, and welcomed the new states of Alaska and Hawaii. People listened to Elvis Presley on the radio and tuned their televisions sets to weekly broadcasts of Leave it to Beaver and Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone with some episodes broadcast in color for the first time. Data from the 1950 census shows that during the previous decade McMinnville’s population grew at a rate of 79 percent, with 3,706 residents in 1940 increasing to 6,635 in 1950.

In 1953, recognizing that the area’s timber and farming could not sustain the growing community alone, the McMinnville Chamber of Commerce strategized a way to bring diversified businesses and industry to the City. Shortly thereafter, a group of 45 professionals from area businesses met and pledged $36,000 to form McMinnville Industrial Promotions (MIP) with Rudy Windishar as its first president. Archway Cookies (1954), Yamhill Plywood (1955), and Rex Mobile Homes (1957) were among the first businesses lured to McMinnville by MIP, which offered not only funding but also good locations from which to do business. The 1950s also brought further infrastructure changes and improvements to McMinnville. The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) added the Adams Street section to Pacific Highway West (Highway 99 West) in October 1954, and in September 1958, ODOT incorporated Three Mile Lane as a junction of the Salmon River Highway, 44 years after McMinnville Water and Light first extended its electric lines “about three miles” toward old Dayton road.[xlii]

After completion of the Bonneville and Grand Coulee dams in the late 1930s and early 1940s, three new dams joined the Columbia River System including McNary in 1953, Chief Joseph in 1955 and The Dalles in 1957. These dams generated additional hydroelectric power for the region. Congress included funding for The Dalles Dam, and future John Day and Priest Rapids dams, through the Flood Control Act of 1950, which came about after the disastrous Vanport Flood on the lower Columbia near Portland and Vancouver during the spring of 1948. Planning on the Priest Rapids Dam project began soon after Congress passed the Flood Control Act. Located on the Columbia River between the Yakima Firing Range and the Hanford Nuclear Plant, and straddling two Washington Counties (Yakima and Grant), the first of the two dams assumed its name from Priest Rapids, the fast moving segment of the river now submerged under the dam’s reservoir. Because the USACE was busy with other projects, Congress allowed the Grant County Public Utility District to take over construction and operations of the new dams under the Priest Rapids Project. This project also included the future Wanapum Dam, which began generating hydroelectric power in September 1963.[xliii]

Just before construction began on Priest Rapids Dam, the McMinnville Water and Light Commission discussed the possibility of purchasing wholesale hydroelectric power generated from the Priest Rapids Project. Reaching a unanimous decision the Commission approved a resolution in May 1956 for contracting with the Grant County Public Utility District, with the idea of selling the power to PGE and Pacific Power and Light (PPL), while maintaining the ability to withdraw the power from those companies when it was cheaper than the power purchased from BPA.[xliv]

Milt McGuire retired as McMinnville Water and Light’s general manager on June 1, 1957; however, because of his valuable services and institutional memory, the Commission retained him as a consultant at the rate of $10 an hour with a maximum of 600 hours a year. McGuire and the early McMinnville Water and Light Commissioners left behind a legacy of growth with a foresight of future developments for the latter half of the twentieth century, including continued dependable electric service as well as a clean and plentiful water supply.[xlv]

Early Years (1886-1920) At Your Service Since 1889 (1889-1989)
[i] “McMinnville Electric Utility”, McMinnville Water and Light History File; Missoula Mercantile Co. advertisement, The Missoulian, September 17, 1912, 5,, accessed May 29, 2020; “Kitchen Design: A Well-Bread Look at the Cool History of the Toaster”,, accessed May 29, 2020.

[ii] “History: 1920 Fast Facts”, United States Census Bureau,, retrieved June 4, 2020;

[iii] Minutes of the Water and Light Commission, January 9, 1920; Reference to prison labor used for wood cutting comes from Stannard’s 1938 presentation at the Chamber of Commerce meeting, McMinnville Water and Light History File, with further mention from Case, “McMinnville Comes Out of the Red: A Story of Power.”

[iv] “Gains of City Light Plant Attributed to Manager; M. H. McGuire, As Head of Department, Has Big Part In Growth”, Telephone Register, Thursday, March 5, 1931, p. 5; “M. H. McGuire”, News Register, supplement, Saturday, August 21, 1971, p. 4; additional biographical information on Milton McGuire is located in the vault at the McMinnville Water and Light office.

[v] Case, “McMinnville Comes Out of the Red: A Story of Power”; Minutes of the Water and Light Commission, January 9, 1922.

[vi] “Electrical Talks Given”, The Morning Oregonian, April 23, 1921, 5; “Every Woman Wants an Electric Washing Machine”, advertisement for Thor Washing Machines, The Morning Oregonian, May 2, 1922, 4.

[vii] Minutes of the Water and Light Commission, August 1, October 3 and November 15, 1921, August 7 and September 4, 1922, February 24 and May 12, 1923.

[viii] Ibid., December 3, 1923 and April 4, 1921. The double throw switch directive went into effect on June 21, 1921.

[ix] Minutes of the Water and Light Commission, January 25 and February 13 and 29, 1924.

[x] Ibid., March 3 and April 21, 1924, and February 2, 1925.

[xi] Ibid., September 6, 1923, September 3 and November 13, 1924.

[xii] “Miss Redmond Commission Clear; As Stenographer Has Become Popular City Employee”, Telephone Register, March 5, 1931, section 1, 7. Lincoln High School was located on 12th Street between Baker and Cowls streets. It became Lincoln Junior High with the construction of a new high school on Evans Street between 16th and 17th. It was demolished in the early 1980s to make way for a shopping center.

[xiii] Katie Archambault, “Rural Electrification in Oregon: 1930-1955”, (Honors Thesis, Linfield College, (McMinnville, Oregon, 2010), 5; Henry M. Hanzen, Power: A Dramatic Story of the Crusade for Public Power, Culminating in Bonneville (Salem, OR: Salem Capital Press, 1947), 27.

[xiv] Minutes of the Water and Light Commission, February 3, 1925; Interviews with Alan Jones, August 30, 1988, and Mary Koch, August 26, 1988, conducted by Katherine Huit; Kevin Dennehy, “First Forester: The Enduring Conservation Legacy of Gifford Pinchot”, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, September 21, 2016,; Robert Hudson Westover, “Conservation versus Preservation” US Forest Service and US Department of Agriculture Blogs,, accessed May 3, 2020. While Pinchot’s conservation methods meant caring for and allowing responsible use of the forests, John Muir sought the preservation of the nation’s most iconic lands, resulting in over 100 million acres managed by the National Park Service.

[xv] Ibid., March 26 and 30, and July 16, 1926.

[xvi] Minutes of the Water and Light Commission, September 9 and December 7, 1925, January 12, February 1, March 1, September 27, 1926, February 7 and 27, March 3, 7, and 10, and August 12, 1927.

[xvii] Morris Llewellyn Cooke, “The Early Days of the Rural Electrification Idea: 1914-1936”, American Political Science Review, XLII, No. 3 (June 1948): 435-436, 438-441,; Archambault, Rural Electrification In Oregon, 18-19.

[xviii] “The McMinnville Electric Utility”, Water and Light History File; Minutes of the Water and Light Commission, (April 6, 1914 – December 30, 1943), September 14, 1927.

[xix] “McMinnville-Yamhill Electric Decision of Supreme Court Vital,” Telephone Register, March 5, 1931, 2; “The McMinnville Electric Utility,” Water and Light History File. Today, the Eugene Water Board is Eugene Water and Electric Board or EWEB.

[xx] Ibid.

[xxi] “Bills Aimed at City Plants Face Fight at Salem,” The Oregon Statesman, January 23, 1929.

[xxii] Minutes of the Water and Light Commission, February 6, 1928.

[xxiii] “The McMinnville Electric Utility,” Water and Light History File. The United States government moved the Federal Power Commission under the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or FERC in 1977.

[xxiv] “The Labor Market During the Great Depression and the Current Recession,” Congressional Research Service, July 19, 2009,,.

[xxv] “History: 1930 Fast Facts”, United States Census Bureau,, retrieved June 4, 2020.

[xxvi] Minutes of the Water and Light Commission, February 12, March 4 and June 16, 1930; Case, “McMinnville Comes Out of the Red: A Story of Power”; “Splendid Water System Evolved After Years of Development,” Telephone Register, October 20, 1938, 14.

[xxvii] Franklin D. Roosevelt, “Campaign Address in Portland, Oregon on Public Utilities and Development of Hydro-Electric Power,” ed., Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project,; accessed February 21, 2020; Stephen Dow Beckham and Donald C. Jackson (n.d.), National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Bonneville Dam Historic District / Bonneville Project, National Park Service, retrieved May 14, 2020, 7 – 10; William F. Willingham, “Bonneville Dam,” The Oregon Encyclopedia,, accessed May 9, 2020.

[xxviii] Cooke “The Early Days”, 445-447.

[xxix] Archambault, Rural Electrification In Oregon: 1930-1955, 5.

[xxx] Minutes of the Water and Light Commission, March 18 and April 26, 1935, August 31 and October 1, 1937; “Giant Diesel Set to Start Service Here,” Telephone Register, October 20, 1938, 1

[xxxi] “About Us”, “Mission, Vision, Values”, and “History”, Bonneville Power Administration,, accessed May 14, 2020.

[xxxii] Beckham and Jackson, Nomination: Bonneville Dam, 10.

[xxxiii] “History of Cascade Locks Electric”, City of Cascade Locks,, retrieved May 14, 2020.

[xxxiv] “Public Power”, The American Public Power Association,, accessed December 5, 2019; “Bonneville Power Administration History”, Northwest Power and Conservation Council,, accessed May 17, 2020.

[xxxv] Paul Raver, “Second Annual Report of the Administrator of the Bonneville Power Administration”, United States Government Printing Office, Washington, 1940, 3-8, 15; “McMinnville’s Rates Are Among Lowest in Country”, Telephone Register, October 2, 1938, 2;“The McMinnville Electric Utility,” Water and Light History File; Minutes of the Water and Light Commission, January 12, June 3 and August 28,1940.

[xxxvi] “McMinnville’s Rates”, Telephone Register, 2; Minutes of the Water and Light Commission, December 2, 1940 and February 15, 1941.

[xxxvii] “History: 1940 Fast Facts”, United States Census Bureau,, retrieved June 4, 2020.

[xxxviii] “The McMinnville Electric Utility,” Water and Light History File; “History of State Highways in Oregon”, Oregon Department of Transportation, Salem Headquarters Right of Way Engineering, August 4, 2017, 1W-1 – 1W-10, 156-1; “FAA Information” about McMinnville Municipal Airport,, accessed May 18, 2020.

[xxxix] “The McMinnville Electric Utility,” Water and Light history file; Interviews with Mary Koch, August 26, 1988 and Alan Jones, August 30, 1988, conducted by Katherine Huit; Water and Light Commission Minutes, April 11, 1949, May 29, June 2, and December 4, 1950.

[xl] Water and Light Commission Minutes, July 6, 1950, and January 11 and February 5, 1951; Interview with Mary Koch, conducted by Katherine Huit, August 26, 1988; “City Water and Light Birthday Banquet Set”, The News Register, November 8, 1964, 1; “McMinnville’s Long Drink of Water”, McMinnville Economic Development Partnership Spark, Vol. 3, Issue 8, August 10, 2018; “In Recognition of the Growth and Achievements of the McMinnville Light and Water System and the Completion of the Largest Diesel Generation Installation on the Pacific Coast”, News Register, Special Edition, March 5, 1931, p. 2; Jonasson, “Smokey Kerosene Lamps, Unsanitary Wells Banished Early in McMinnville”. News Register, Oregon Centennial Edition, June 25, 1959, p. 51.

[xli] “The McMinnville Electric Utility, Water and Light history file.

[xlii] “History: 1950 Fast Facts”, United States Census Bureau,, retrieved June 4, 2020; United States Census Bureau,, retrieved March 29, 2020; R. W. Engineering Group, “History of State Highways in Oregon”, Oregon Department of Transportation, August 4, 2017, 1W-13 and 39-3. In 1967, Three Mile Lane became an extension and spur of the Salmon River Highway, creating a bypass from Highway 99 West to Highway 18, and a major route from Portland to the central Oregon Coast; Mike Colvin, “McMinnville Industrial Promotions”, draft edited by Katherine Huit, May 29, 1999.

[xliii] “About Us” and “Our History”, Grant County Public Utility District,, accessed May 30, 2020; Leland R. Johnson, “Situation Desperate: US Army Engineer Disaster Relief Operations Origins to 1950”, Office of History, Headquarters US Army Corps of Engineers, 2011, 217-221; “Title II – Flood Control Act”, Public Laws-CH 188, May 17, 1950, 170 and 179; “The Columbia River Power System Inside Story”, Bonneville Power Administration, Second Edition, April 2001, 2-8; “Bonneville Power Administration History,” Film Vault, Film Collection Volume 1: “Hydro”, “The Columbia”, “Highline”, “Power Builds Ships”, “25,000 Volts Under the Sea”, and “Look to the River”, 1939 – 1951; and Volume 2: “Stringing and Sagging a High-Voltage Transmission Line”, “The World Behind Your Light Switch”, “Great River”, “Intertie”, “River of Power”, “Hydro” (short version), and “Action on the Columbia” 1950 – 1987, US Bureau of Reclamation and US Army Corps of Engineers,, accessed May 5, 2020. The Columbia River System region includes consumers from the states of Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming as well as parts of Canada.

[xliv] Water and Light Commission Minutes, May 7 and 21, 1956; Interview with Alan Jones, August 30, 1988, conducted by Katherine Huit.

[xlv] Water and Light Commission Minutes, July 1, 1957.