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Cosponsored by the Salisbury Association Historical Society and the Scoville Memorial Library

In 1886, inventor William Stanley ran wires from an old rubberware factory in Great Barrington and electrified lights in offices and stores on one end of Main Street, demonstrating the viability of his alternating current transformer— two weeks after a direct-current system brightened from the mansion Kellogg Terrace at the other end of Main Street. This was the first time anywhere that one could witness the two systems at work — kicking off the Battle of the Currents between Westinghouse (AC) and Edison (DC).

Lighting Great Barrington

 

A skirmish of a different sort came a few years later, downriver in Salisbury. Alternating current by now prevailed and local politician “Boss” John H. Roraback established Berkshire Power Co. and constructed a power station on the Housatonic River in Weatogue, east Salisbury, in 1905. The dam backed river water so high, it flooded farmland in Salisbury and as far upstream as the upper covered bridge in Sheffield. This launched an at-times bitter two-state confrontation.

 

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