From the beginning, energy played a vital role in Cedarburg's history. In the mid-1800s, the swift currents and natural falls of Cedar Creek attracted German immigrants who harnessed the energy to power their grain mills. The mills brought people and jobs to this new land, but as the century neared an end, a new technology loomed on the horizon. It was a technology that would change everyday life in Cedarburg forever.
In 1901, city fathers directed that a steam-powered electric light plant be built on this site. By 1903, it was generating nightly power for 78 customers. Daytime generation was added when local women requested power on Mondays for their new electric washing machines and on Tuesdays for electric irons. The Industrial Revolution was on a roll, and by 1910, the power plant was running 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Following World War I, citizens pressed for continued modernization. They voted for a public water and sewer system and on January 21, 1923, the fire whistle blared to signal the completion of the project.
In 1925, the power plant was expanded and diesel engines were installed. Further expansions occurred in the decades that followed, and by the 1960s, a portion of Cedarburg's power was purchased from outside souruces in response to soaring diesel fuel costs.
In 1980, wanting to maintain its energy independence and secure long-term access to low-cost power, Cedarburg joined 22 other community-owned utilities to form Wisconsin Public Power Inc. Several years later, the power plant ceased operation and in 1996, the building, which stands directly to the north, was sold to The Kubala Washatko Architects. Through careful renovation, many of the original characteristics were preserved.
Today, Cedarburg is among 2,000 communities nationwide that own and operate their own utilities.
On August 11, 2001, Cedarburg Light & Water joined the community in a celebration of the first 100 years of local utility ownership at a "Lawn Party by Electric Light" in Cedar Creek Park. Guests signed a registry, which has been sealed in a time capsule and buried on this site.
As a lasting commemoration of the first 100 years of municipal utility ownership, this rest area was donated by Cedarburg Light & Water to the citizens of Cedarburg for all to enjoy.
This area is dedicated to Carl Klug and Wilmer Boerner, who died while working on the engines at the Cedarburg power plant in 1937 and 1942, respectively.