JDL ThinFilm LLC

Photovoltaics For Today

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Stuart, Fl  34994

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Phone: 772-260-5049

Fax: 888-628-2862

E-mail: john@jdlthinfilm.com

Photovoltaics For Today

Eriksen Ranch  -  Mullen, Nebraska - 1950’s



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Text Box: Enter the REA

The Rural Electrification Act of 1936 eventually brought an end to wind-powered farms and ranches. Power lines were extended virtually everywhere by 1950, and the windchargers had to come down or be disabled. Several power companies refused to hook up a farm with a functioning windcharger, fearing that the farmer would keep his "free" power before using and paying for theirs. Many farmers took the easy approach by simply blasting their wind machines with a high-powered rifle (to the horror of collectors many years later) in order to satisfy the power company and get the AC line connected.

Converting a farm or ranch from 32 Vdc to 110 VAC could often cause some unexpected excitement. Usually, the farmer simply removed the battery cable from the input side of his house service panel, and then the power company connected the new 110-volt AC feed to the same point. The plugs and receptacles inside the house were the same for both voltages, so there was no need to change any inside wiring or fittings. That frequently resulted in a rude surprise when those old 32-volt DC appliances were turned on!
Text Box: REA Promise Fulfilled 

The REA, Rural Electrification Administration, began in the 1930s, but it took 
time to build power lines scores of miles into rural areas. So, when young men 
from farms went into military service, most of them left behind a farmhouse 
with no electric lights or appliances, and most often, no indoor bathroom as well. 
Throughout the 1940s, the REA continued to build the lines. When the soldiers 
returned, many – but not all – found that electricity had revolutionized life on the 
These are the facts: 
In 1930, only 13 percent of farms had electricity.
By the early 1940s, only 33 percent of farms had electricity.
Locally in York, Nebraska, the Perennial Public Power District had strung 
nearly 250 miles of electric line to more than 500 customers by September 1945.
By 1950 nearly all of Nebraska farms were "hooked up," and electricity replaced
kerosene lanterns in homes and barns.
Farm life dramatically improved with power for lights, refrigeration, appliances, and farm equipment. Electricity powered labor-saving machines. Electric water pumps powered many irrigation pumps on the farm and cisterns for running water in kitchens and indoor bathrooms. The pent-up demand for home appliances exploded after World War II, about the same time lights came on in homes across rural America. 
And, of course, you needed power for new inventions, like television. 
One man remembers that his family lived only one mile out of town, but they were "the last house on the line" and were not hooked up to electricity until 1950. He says his life dramatically improved. "We really became part of the world – at least, part of the state – after that. Before that, we were just our own little community there." 
A woman remembers that having a refrigerator meant she no longer had to go to the "cave" – a cool room dug down into the ground – to get butter and other perishables. "That cave, we didn't like anyhow because there were salamanders down there." 
Another man was working for the power district after the war and realized how important it was to get folks hooked up. His crew was trying to hook up one farmer on Christmas Eve when they found out the farm wife had arthritis. "We were going to connect that farmer up. We didn't care how long it took," Don says. "When we energized them, we walked in. And she had, I don't know how many electric blankets wrapped around her. And she was crying. Her children were crying. And we were crying." 
REA lines


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