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Transmission Line

Lower Dam

Upper Dam


Distribution Lines in Pelzer

Pelzer was one of the first Southern mill villages to have lighting in homes and businesses. High voltage lines from the transmission line enter a transformer house through clay inlets on the side of the building. One time there were two transformer houses in Pelzer, one beside Mill No. 2 and another on Square Street. Inside of the transformer houses were lightning arrestors, switches, and transformers that decreased the voltage. From the transformer houses, three lines, creating a circuit, exited through clay inlets to the distribution poles. The electricity is transferred to pole-mounted transformers, decreasing the voltage for lighting and other use.

From the Transmission Line to Distribution Lines

The last transformer house in Pelzer is located on Square Street. It is currently used as a storage building by the nearest residence. Most likely, this transformer house was built in the 1910s and serviced the village between the Upper and Lower Mills. High voltage lines entered the clay inlets and inside transformers lowered the voltage to be distributed to homes and businesses.

From Distribution Lines to Homes

After the lines exited the transformer house, they ran behind homes and businesses. Pole-mounted transformers and lightning arrestors decreased the voltage even further to a suitable voltage for lighting and other indoor purposes. Lower voltage lines are easier to transmit and safer then high voltage. From the transformers, low voltage lines stretched to buildings where an insulator was mounted, from which the lines entered porcelain tubes into the walls of the building.

Transformers & Lightning Arrestors

Transformers were originally mounted on a short crossarm with glass lightning arrestors below the three distribution wires. The lines ran behind mill homes or along the street where one transformer provided for several buildings around it. Poles surviving today have Westinghouse transformers popular around the 1930s. Fragile Westinghouse glass arrestors mounted beside the transformer stopped any surge of lightning or increased voltage from entering the transformer. Broken glass arrestors were later replaced by stronger porcelain arrestors.

Pole Lines & Insulators

Mainly two original pole lines remain in Pelzer and are abandoned. Both are in the Lower Village running behind mill homes and have CD 134, CD 162, CD 162.1, CD 162.3, CD 232, CD 280, and CD 287 still on the poles. Before the Duke Power Company provided service in the 30s or 40s, the mill company operated the lines privately.

Jeffrey Kraemer. E-mail: