The Race To Electrify The South Coast: Part II

THUS FAR: In the summer of 1925 a most unusual “race” took place on the Coastside between the arch-rivals Great Western and Pacific Gas (GWPG) and Electric (PG&E). The two power companies agreed to compete to see who could get power poles to electricity-starved Pescadero first.

For PG&E, the starting point was in the magical redwood forests near La Honda. From there, PG&E crews labored up and down the steep grades, drilling holes for power poles.

Following the rugged coastline, and employing two dozen men in three crews, Great Western started work at Lobitos Creek, south of Half Moon Bay.

Some 400 poles were shipped by boat from San Francisco to Pigeon Point–once the site of a busy wharf.

For three weeks, the crews toiled, day and night. At 4 a.m. on July 16, 1925, an exhausted GWPC crew brought the first electric current into Pescadero–and were proclaimed the victors. The Great Western workers had beaten the PG&E crew by 24 hours.

The winner installed a temporary generating plant in the Roy Scott garage in Pescadero.

According to the Half Moon Bay Review, it was not likely that the power companies’ only interest had been in providing Pescadero with power. More likely it was symbolic of a larger struggle.

“Rumors of a corporation battle for control of the electrical supply of the coast region of central California have been frequently heard,” explained the Review, “but there has been no official word that would verify this.”

The race to Pescadero would not end the struggle. PG&E, “using their own power,” showed an educational silent motion picture ont he screen at the Community Center building in Pescadero.

“Both companies are building parallel lines on the streets” of Pescadero,” the Review reported. PG&E was extending its lines to Davenport while Great Western was heading toward Butano Canyon.

A few days after the race to Pescadero ended, the Review wrly commented that the new lights had “spoiled” the Pescaderans– long accustomed to a rustic lifestyle.

…To Be Continued…