Original Engineering Firm Provides Speaker

Dean C. Stange, Senior Engineer of the Stanley Group presented a history of rural electrification to society members gathered for the annual meeting on September 11, 2012. I have added a menu item to this site. Click “Rural Electrification” to access Stange’s complete remarks and additional source materials he provided.

Stange’s remarks were summarized in the September 2012 edition of the Society’s newsletter.

Keri Holmes Rojas

Ideas for 2013 Needed

We are very excited to the celebration of the 75 years for the REA Museum! Would you please comment and let us know what kind of ideas for the celebration you have?Continue Reading

REA Museum Anniversary

In 2013 the REA Museum will celebrate their 75th Anniversary! What kind of events and activities would interest you?Continue Reading

Board Member Got His Start at same time as REA Plant

Thanks to the Hampton Chronicle for these vintage clippings.Continue Reading

Nuggets of History

Excerpt from Nuggets of History by Birdell Paine Butson Franklin County Leads Out …The 4th honor began in 1936.  At that time, most of the farmers did not have electricity.  Cities and towns had electricity, but they were never interested in making the price reasonable for farmers.  So Manning Howell (the county extension agent)  putContinue Reading

REA Plant

A History of the R.E.A. Museum

In the early 1930’s only 10% of the farms in the United States used electricity for home and farm purposes. 90% labored the hard way.

May 1935 – President Franklin Roosevelt created and signed the Rural Electrification Act. This money provided money to help farmers build distribution lines only.

March 1936 – First publicity in Hampton Chronicle: “Are you interested in Rural Electrification?”

February 10, 1937 – Federated REA (six counties: Franklin, Hardin, Wright, Butler, Grundy and Hancock) and Central REA (Pocahontas) were each incorporated at Ft. Dodge.

February 15, 1937 – Due to prohibitive power charges by electrical plants, Federated asked for a loan of $222,000 from the REA fund. This was a new approach for farmers to build their own generating plant. This loan was granted.

March 1938 – Federated (Reeve) lines were generated. “First Coop in the nation to put farmer-owned generated electricity out on farmer-owned lines.” The first diesel engine is still in the plant. There were a total of four engines when the plant was in full operation (the last engine foundation being poured the day of the infamous November 11, 1941 blizzard). The other three engines were removed before the plant was given to the Historical Society.

May 1938 – Central (Pocahontas) lines were energized. They had borrowed power from the Reeve plant from March to May.

1948-1950 – Peak period of operation and Reeve Federated then became one of 14 Coops to create Corn Belt Power at Humboldt. Reeve was used as a sub-station for several years.

1988 – Don Yadon of Hampton donated the plant to the Franklin County Historical Society.

1989 – The REA Power Plant Committee under the auspices of the Franklin County Historical Society was formed to renovate the Power Plant. They worked to get it on the National Register of Historic Places, extensively cleaned the structure, and installed new windows, a new roof, painted the interior and opened with an “Open House” in the fall of 1990. Funds for the restoration were from a REAP Grant, donations from the six counties in the original Federated group, Corn Belt Power, and other interested groups and individuals. Over 1800 hours of work was donated by individuals from the community. Since that time the committee has done much work to display what life was like before and after the advent of electricity to rural areas.

2002 – The REA Power Plant Museum was selected as a Point of Interest in the Silos and Smoke Stacks National Heritage Area

History Begins Here

The Museum is open from January 15 through November 15: Monday - Friday, 1 to 4. 

From Memorial Day through Labor Day, the museum is also open Sunday 1 to 4.

We will happily open at other times by appointment. Send an e-mail any time, call during regular museum hours, or during off hours, call Franklin County Tourism at 1 641 456 5668.

Franklin County Historical Museum is located at:

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