Thursday, August 12, 2021

Louisiana Public Utilties Expands Across Louisiana

 The coming of electric power to St. Tammany Parish was an outgrowth of the production of ice for ice boxes. First came the St. Tammany Ice and Manufacturing Co., in Covington, then came the huge electric generators for keeping the ice cold, then came the stringing of electric lines from the plant, first across the street, then across the downtown area and beyond. 

It became such a lucrative venture, the company decided to rename itself Louisiana Public Utilities and started branching out to Mandeville and Slidell.

A description of the company and its ambitious expansion plans was printed in a Nov. 30, 1926, issue of the Times Picayune:

"The (Louisiana Public Utilities Company) is supplying the larger towns in the parish with electrical power and arrangements are being made whereby the smaller towns and outlying districts may be cared for.

"Their ambition is to offer cheap electrical power to the farmer and the industrialist in the parish. They have plants at Slidell, Abita Springs, Mandeville, Covington.

"Some very big plans were underway at the time of my talk with Mr. Early, which he did not care to disclose at that time. However, this writer foresees that there will soon be news "electrifying" the parish, both figuratively and literally speaking."

A photo of the Slidell location 

The original Covington electric plant was located between Jefferson Avenue and Theard St. near where the new courthouse is today.

A 1927 Map of the Covington Location

Louisiana Public Utilities operated an electricity generator in Covington, a freezing tank for cold storage, and ice manufacturing. That facility also had extensive fire fighting apparatus on hand, a 12,000 gallon reservoir and 750 foot deep artesian well. This was the place that supplied the City of Covington with its first water system and first electrical system. 

In a 1926 St. Tammany Farmer newspaper article comes this information:

"Electric light and power is supplied to all the larger cities and towns in St. Tammany Parish. Only recently the Louisiana Public Utilities Company has taken over the larger plants in the territory and under the consolidations, arrangements are being made to furnish additional lines along the highways so as to offer cheap electrical power to homes and farms outside of the larger communities."

And from that point on, the company expanded across south Louisiana and kept growing and growing.

Click on the images to make them larger and more readable. 
Advertisements offering land and houses for sale often mentioned that electricity was on site.

Text from the above real estate classified ad:
A powerful and convincing newspaper ad published in the real estate section of the Times Picayune on March 6, 1927,

For Sale: Anything Anybody Wants in St. Tammany


Covington, on high rolling ground, shaded by groves of massive oaks and stately pines, lies in the fork of two of the most beautiful rivers in the Southland, the Tchefuncta and the Bogue Falaya.

On the high picturesque bluffs overlooking these streams some of our most beautiful stretches of white sand beach to which these bluffs, at intervals, give way,shaded with great trees to the very water edge, prove the most delightful swimming beaches that nature can provide.

Covington's indescribable charm, found no where else, is largely due to this picturesque location. In more material things, Covington also excels.

Before I begin to enumerate these items, it may be well to say that practically all of the development below stated has come into existence in the past three or four years. Remember that and you will appreciate the wonderful growth Covington is making.

Covington now has a modern sewerage and water supply system. There are fire plugs in all sections of the town. The water supply to the residences is from deep artesian wells and by chemical analysis very similar to the water of the famed and nationally known Abita Springs, our sister town just a few minutes ride away. 

We have a fire department and a uniformed police force. We have a street commissioner and twenty-five miles of surfaced (gravelled) streets, more surfaced streets for the population than any other city in the United States.

We have a progressive board of aldermen and a mayor who is paid to serve exclusively as mayor and who, accomplishment being the measure, will compare favorably with any other mayor in any other city. I mention this because the progress of a town largely depends upon the efficiency of its political executive.

We have two banks with total assets of nearly three million dollars. We have a homestead approaching half million assets. Modern public schools, grammar and high, with the best of facilities. Private schools and a college. We have a $40,000 picture house.

We have an electric service by the Louisiana Public Utilities Co. with rates (housewives of New Orleans please notice) that enable the housewives of Covington to cook with electricity at a cost less than oil or wood fuel would cost.

But why go on?

At the price per a line it is costing to tell you this (in the newspaper ad) I could spend a thousand dollars and only tell half of it. When eventually you feel inclined to move to the most healthful spot in the United States (government statistics) to the most beautiful location in the South; where you are within a few minutes drive of high rolling hills, to the north or within six minutes drive of beautiful Lake Pontchartrain to the south; in the center of the new "around the lake loop" and yet just 30 miles due north of New Orleans... come over I'll tell you the rest.

And best of all the profit is yet in Covington real estate. The speculators haven't milked it dry. They are still asleep. 


I want to show somebody a home on a bluff overlooking the Bogue Falaya River. I want them to stand on the glassed porch of this modern little home, gaze for a moment on this beautiful stream and then tell me truthfully if any where they may have been, they have ever seen a more picturesque location. The ground alone, about three squares, is worth more that the price asked. $8500

I have an eleven acre location, with small modern bungalow on the Mandeville-Covington highway that I want to show to someone who knows something about flowers. I want to tell them of some information that has recently come to meof the enormous profits that amateur florists are reaping in other parts of the country from locations on highways within forty or fifty miles of large cities. Price $4500

That's all for today, but remember I have anything anybody wants in St. Tammany. And I have it at the price you want to pay. Write for a free road map, literature and sales list. Farms, Acreage, Residences

Ride a few miles for the best. You'll find it in central St. Tammany

M. D. Conners Real Estate
Caserta Building, Covington

P.S. I have a few five-acre sites on gravelled highway just outside Covington, fine for strawberry tracts or poultry that can offer at $650 each. 

End of 1927 Real Estate Ad 

 So the availability of electric service was a key selling point in advertising real estate in the late 1920's. 

The La. Public Utilities company continued to grow.

Text from above article:
Slidell Electric Plant Is Growing

Slidell, LA May 16, 1927 - The Louisiana Public Utilities Company have begun an addition to their local plant which will house a 300 horsepower Diesel engine and a 200 kilowatt generator to cost in the neighborhood of $30,000.

According to Paul Redmond, local manager, the addition of the new unit has been made necessary by the increased load on the company's lines in Slidell.

It has been currently reported for some time that the Louisiana Public Utilities intended building an immense power plant in this locality. The addition of a unit that practically doubles the capacity of the Slidell plant is taken as an indication that this place will ultimately become the point of distribution for a large part of St. Tammany Parish.


See also:

St. Tammany Ice & Manufacturing Company