1889: The first long-distance transmission of electricity takes place, linking a powerhouse at Willamette Falls to a string of lights in Portland, Oregon, 14 miles to the west.
The power lines stretching from the hydroelectric generator to 55 street lights at 4th and Main heralded the arrival of a major innovation in energy technology. The original design used continuous (or direct) current, not the alternating-current system that eventually became the standard way of transmitting power.
Madrigal links to further background provided by the Willamette Falls Heritage Foundation. The foundation site says:
The high tension transmission line ended at what is now called Chapman Park, located at 4th and Main in Portland, where a bronze plaque still commemorates the momentous event, the first long distance transmission of electricity in the United States. At 10:00pm on June 3rd, 1889, a switch was thrown in the newly built powerhouse at Willamette Falls, and one of four 32.5 kilowatt “No. 8 Brush arc light dynamos” pumped enough electricity over 14 miles of wire to light 55 carbon arc street lamps in downtown Portland.
By June 10th, another dynamo was connected in Station A, and before the year was over eleven direct-current arc lighting generators were drawing power from the falls and lighting the streets of Portland. By the end of 1889 Station A was transmitting approximately 4,000 volts of direct current to Portland, with a line loss of about 1,000 volts.