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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Day the Lights Went Out

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A long time ago, ice was big business.

The ice plant was built on the north side of Thayer in 1912 by M. J. Morse and Clark Hall.

Ice was especially crucial in those days.

The railroad needed it for the cars that carried fruit and meat during shipment, not to mention residents who used it in their "ice boxes."

The Ark-Mo Power Company bought the dam at Mammoth Spring in 1925 and installed a generator to produce electricity which supplied several surrounding towns, including Thayer and West Plains, with electric power.

Thayer then converted the ice plant to electricity from engine driven generators, in 1926.

As the demand for electricity increased after the depression, electricity rates became a topic.

Thayer's councilmen learned that the city of West Plains was receiving more favorable rates and took issue with the power company.

As the dialogue and feelings heated up, Thayer's city councilmen, led by Joe Harlin, decided to install their own engines to generate electricity and didn't renew their contract with Ark-Mo Power.

Unfortunately, the installers did not have the two new engines ready by the end of the power company contract.

On that day, April 22, 1938, the Ark-Mo Power Company workers cut the lines at the south edge of the Thayer city limits and the town went dark.

It was called "the day the lights went out."

It took until the following Saturday afternoon upon a demand from the Missouri Public Service Commission to restore power to Thayer.

The "new" ice and light plant engines came on line on June 23, 1938.

A profit center for the city, it produced reasonable rates until fuel, maintenance, labor and increased demand, led the city of Thayer to again go back to purchasing electricity in the 1950s.

Councilman Harlin was elected Mayor at Thayer in the 1940 fall elections, but had a heart attack and died in December of that same year.