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The Old Granbury Light Plant and Water Works, on Brazos Street, was constructed by the Granbury Milling Company in 1903. The Light Plant was sold to the Frisco Railroad two years later, and they ran an ice and light company. Ice was very expensive in the early Twentieth Century and this made it a lucrative business.

R. A. Grundy bought the plant five years later and renamed the business The Granbury Water and Light Company. In 1912 they pledged to provide lights to city residents all night long.

The city of Granbury purchased the plant from Grundy in 1923 for $13,000. After purchasing the plant, the city expanded water and electric service to everyone that lived in Granbury.

The light plant was run 24 hours a day by a 4 man crew during the 1930’s and 1940’s. In 1949 the city’s electrical demand outgrew the plant’s capacity and Granbury contracted with the Brazos Electrical Cooperative to purchase electricity.

Although the light plant hasn’t been used for its original purpose since the 1960, it’s still intact and housed in its original building on Brazos Street. A local antique equipment club has worked on the place and fixed it up.

The plant is open for special events or by appointment. According to information collected while visiting, the place is open for the “Candlelight Tour of Homes” (December), and for the “Cruisin Granbury” event held over the Memorial Day weekend in May.

If your interested in old cars or old equipment, you are going to like this place. The generators are powered by antique, low speed, two cycle diesel engines.

Diesel engine #2 was installed in 1923. It produces 50 horsepower, and runs at 257 r.p.m. This, the oldest of the three generators, is a hot plug type motor. A blow torch is used to heat a glow plug until it glows red hot so the engine can be started. It produced 50 k.w. Of electricity at 2400 volts.

Diesel engine #1 was installed in 1938. This Fairbanks Morse diesel engine has 14 inch pistons and is a two cycle diesel engine with fuel injection pressures of 2200 psi. It runs at 257 r.p.m. and produced up to 100 k.w. Of electricity at 2400 volts.

Both of these units were started while I was in the building. Compressed air is used to crank over these big engines. The small compressors used to creates the compressed air were also original to the light plant. In fact it seems that all methods used were authentic to the origins of this electric plant.

The enthusiasm of the people doing the demonstrations was apparent. It was also pretty easy to imagine how much hard work went into fixing up all this antique equipment. I’ve poked around in plenty of old towns and never seen anything like this before. If you’re in Granbury when this place is open for display, be sure to take the 3 minute drive out to see it.

Bibliographic note:
The information presented here was collected while visiting Granbury Texas during the Candlelight Tour of Homes in 2005. Information was also extracted from material included in the information packet handed out to the Candlelight participants.

More Information

Corner of North Ewell and North Brazos, Granbury Texas

County: Hood

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Copyright © 2009 by Sam Fenstermacher
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