From the Library of Congress, Today in History:
On September 30, 1882, the world's first hydroelectric power plant began operation on the Fox River in Appleton, Wisconsin. The plant, later named the Appleton Edison Light Company, was initiated by Appleton paper manufacturer H.F. Rogers, who had been inspired by Thomas Edison's plans for an electricity-producing station in New York. With financial backing from three Appleton men, one a personal friend of Edison's, Rogers began building the Appleton plant at his riverside paper mill during the summer of 1882.
Unlike Edison's New York plant which used steam power to drive its generators, the Appleton plant used the energy of the Fox River. The operation's water wheel, generators, and copper wiring took only a few months to install and test. When the plant opened, just twenty-six days after Edison's, it produced enough electricity to light Rogers' home, the plant itself, and a nearby building.
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