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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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ALLEN, William L.

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ALLEN, William L. In 1884 along with his associates, Dr. Allen of Davenport purchased a large interest in the Davenport Central Railway, a streetcar line using horses. He was elected president of the line in 1887 and immediately indicated his interest in utilizing electricity to provide power for the cars.

Visiting Richmond, Virginia, he investigated the Sprague system which had recently been installed there as the first electrically powered streetcar system in the United States. Reporting to his directors in Davenport, he met with little support. He then purchased a controlling interest and installed the Sprague system with six cars. This was the first line in the west and the third in the United States.

In June, 1889 he established another line in Stillwater, Minnesota--the first in the state. In December, with associates he began operations in Dubuque. His expertise in the industry led him to be asked to read a paper he wrote, "Electricity Technically Considered," to the 1891 meeting of the American Street Railway Association in Buffalo, New York.



"An Electric Railway King," Dubuque Daily Herald, March 28, 1891, p. 4