Last Friday, a work crew took down three aged steel towers along Elizabeth Street, just inside the Indiana Michigan Power property there.They hadn't been used in years, except maybe by perching birds. But they once sent electricity on its way to power streetcars in Fort Wayne and Interurban rail cars running from Fort Wayne to Auburn, West Lafayette, Lima, Ohio, and other destinations, said Jim Delaney of Fort Wayne, who worked for the City Light electric utility and then what is now Indiana Michigan Power before retiring in 2003.
The transmission towers, which likely also carried electricity to nearby homeowners, didn't give up easily: Workers had trouble unscrewing some of the bolts.
The towers date back to at least the mid-1920s, because they are visible in an aerial photo Delaney has of the area that was taken between 1925 and 1927. They could be even older.They served the Fort Wayne & Wabash Valley Traction Co.'s electrical generating plant, which was constructed in 1906 along Spy Run just north of Elizabeth Street, Delaney said. Delaney's aerial photo shows Interurban rail cars and streetcars on tracks in a rail yard just north of the power plant.
The Interurban cars, streetcars and rail tracks all are long gone. He believes the plant, which once had two tall smokestacks, was demolished in the mid-1960s.
Now the steel structure that held the traction company's electrical substation and a few adjacent buildings are all that remain from that era.
But the memory is preserved in Power Park, a small wedge of property at Spy Run and Elizabeth. With information plaques, a display manhole covers from local electrical utilities that served Fort Wayne through the decades and a large bushing from a transformer, the park commemorates that area's long history in electrical power generation.
To watch a video about Power Park, which recognizes the city's electrical power generation history, go to news-sentinel.com and click on this story.