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West view of Ohio Edison Power Plant. PO1.610
North view of Ohio Edison Power Plant.
The demolition of the Niles plant, including
the two 300 foot stacks and the 400 foot stack occurred in April
Today's daily headlines tell of advances in gas, oil and even solar
energy. But in 1953 the big news in Niles was the new Ohio Edison
Power Plant to be constructed south of town on the banks of the
Mahoning River which would be fired by coal.
This was to be the biggest construction project in the area in
many years. Niles was chosen as the site by Ohio Edison for this
plant due to the availability of water from the river and the
proximity of railroads for delivering the vast amounts of coal
that would be needed for the generators. Nearby residential, commercial
and industrial growth also influenced the decision.
Originally the plans were for a single 106,000 killowatt generating
unit. However even before construction began at the over 100 acre
site, Edison president Walter H. Sammis announced a second
unit would be added thus doubling the output of the facility.
He cited the Korean situation and the nation's rearmament program
as reasons. This resulted in a 12 story structure and two 300
foot high stacks being built to accommodate the generators and
boilers. The cost was over $35,000,000.
What happened inside was a complex process.
In order to produce the electricity, the coal had to be broken into
1/4 inch size pieces. Conveyors took the coal to the top of the
plant and dumped it into bunkers which in turn took it through the
automatic feeders where it was mixed with air and swirled in the
cyclone boilers at 136 mph. and at temperatures of over 3000 degrees.
The water turned to dry steam which drove the turbine blades and
continued to the condensers underneath. There the river water cooled
the steam and condensed it back to water to be returned to the boilers.
The generator acted as an electro-magnet producing the electricity.
The electricity that was produced went to the substation outside
the plant where transformers increased the voltage and made it ready
to be delivered to the surrounding communities.
The first boiler was fired on December 19, 1953.
The headlines of the Niles Daily Times read "Ohio Edison
Generator Switch Thrown Today". Each day 2500 tons of coal
was used in operating the two generators while 200,000,000 gallons
of water was pumped from the Mahoning River and cleanly returned
to it. Over 900 men were employed in its construction.
The new electric power plant was officially dedicated
in October of 1954. Among others the speakers included Ohio Edison's
Walter H. Simmis as toastmaster and Niles Mayor Edward P.
Lenny. John T. Swartz officially dedicated the plant
since he had met Thomas Edison himself several times. This event
was scheduled to coincide with the celebration of the 75th anniversary
of Edison's invention of the incandescent light bulb. To signify
the advances in electricity the ceremony started being lit with
only gas lights and replicas of Edison's first electric lamps.
This evolved to an ending with brilliant floodlights illuminating
the new plant. A three day open house of the facility followed
with at least 15,000 touring this new industry in Niles.
Now just as Edison's incandescent light bulb
has been phased out in recent years in favor of more energy efficient
types so has the the idea of electricity produced from coal. The
Ohio Edison Power Plant no longer serves the community as it once
did but its tall stacks still tower on the horizon as a reminder
of its place in Niles history.
Ohio Edison Plant before demolition
in April 2022.
below show the construction of the Ohio Edison Power Plant located
just off Belmont Avenue, south of the city. The plant has been
closed and its future is unknown at this time.
View of plant from Mahoning River.
The 1954 Diamond celebration of Thomas Edison's
incandescent light bulb brochure is shown below.
|Bits of Interest
About the Niles Plant.
The coal stockpile at the Niles plant covers six acres and holds
In the process of construction, 1,000 railroad carloads of materials
went into the plant.
Nearly 1,500 engineering drawings were made in connection with construction
and 2,700 engineering revisions.
The peak number of construction employees was 903, representing
13 different crafts.
The plant, with its two 106,000 kilowatt generators, could supply
all the electrical needs of a city of 130,000.
Standing as high as a 12-story building, the volume of the power
plant is equal to that of 563 six-room houses.
From the time ground was broken, the plant required slightly less
than four years to build.
Enough air is moved by the plant’s huge fans to air condition
the entire city of Niles were a roof thrown over it.