Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.


Morning Star, May 11, 2003, pg. 5

We continue with our theme of “Albion--100 Years Ago.” Week ending May 7, 1903: “Burglars at Concord. Early last Friday morning burglars broke into R. H. Halstead’s private bank in Concord, cracked the safe open with dynamite and made away with the entire contents...The burglars made good their escape by means of a rig stolen from T. J. O. Thatcher. They drove to this city [Albion] and left the rig in the fair ground. The buggy was found near the old exhibition building, together with one harness and a quantity of dynamite.”

“Tuesday of this week Hartung, the photographer, observed an old people’s day and took a free picture of all who came. He had advertised the novelty quite extensively, and 18 venerable citizens from Albion and vicinity took advantage of the opportunity. All of them were 80 years old or more. 11 were from New York state, two were born in Vermont, two in Germany, and one in England. These old timers furnished an excellent temperance sermon in themselves, for everyone of them has always let intoxicating liquors severely alone.”

May 14, 1903: “The Big Mill Race. Last Friday the water was drawn out of the west race, probably never to be let in again north of Erie St...But when Jesse Crowell built the stone mill [1845], nearly 60 years ago, he calculated that that would carry water enough to run the big flouring mill, the old red custom mill, a saw mill and a planing mill. But the saw mill burned down, the planing mill went out of business, and the red mill, run as a feed mill only, drew lightly on the water supply for power...In other words, the entire water power of the west race will be used to run the machinery of the electric light company’s new plant, which is now being installed.” [NOTE: The north-south road behind Citizen’s Bank was once the upper “river” raceway used to power the mills. This was filled in 100 years ago. The lower portion flowed parallel into the Market Place and powered the Consumer’s Power electric plant. That was filled in 1954.]

“Notice. We earnestly solicit all lot owners in Riverside Cemetery for the care and mowing of their lots. Give us your aid and let us beautify our cemetery. By Order of the Cemetery Board.”

May 21, 1903: “For the first time in the history of Albion, a car propelled by electricity passed through Superior St. about 6 o’clock Saturday evening. A number of small boys and several grown people took advantage of the opportunity to get a ride. There are now three cars running between here and Battle Creek, each making the round trip in three hours. Regular service has been kept up this week, a car leaving Albion every hour.”

“Major Frank Porter, one of the gallant officers of the old 12th Regiment, Michigan Infantry, which did such valiant service in the Civil War, was found dead in his bed at his home in Detroit. Mr. Porter was one of several Albionites who went overland to California when gold was discovered there in 1849.”

“Great improvements are being made at the old red mill, getting it in readiness for the new electric lighting plant. The greatest change is being made in the wheel pit, so that greater power can be obtained. The race bed is being raised so as to give the water an additional fall of two feet and the tail race will be lowered two feet.”

“They are doing things at a great rate in and around the brick mill. Men and teams are now filling in the old mill race and constructing a dam to hold back the water. It is also given out that a “Y” is to be put in for turning cars around [Note: Interurban street cars], holding reserve cars, and unloading freight [Note: This was a “spur” Interurban sidetrack that ran off Erie St. into the Market Place].”

From our Historical Notebook this week we present a 1909 postcard photograph of the aforementioned water-powered electric power house, converted from the old Red Mill. The scene looks south from what today is Stoffer Plaza, towards E. Erie St. Water powered electricity was generated from this site until after World War II. The stream below is today the site of the fenced-off area below the Consumer’s Power Company building which replaced this power house when it burned in 1913. The Methodist Church is on the right.

Water-powered electric power house, converted from the old Red Mill

Read more Albion 100 Years Ago articles.

Next 100 Years Ago article: JUNE 1903


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