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St. Croix Electric celebrates 75 years

A granite time capsule cover helps protect historic items below the surface.1 / 2
Pole No. 1 was relocated to the front of St. Croix Electric Cooperative's facilities in Hammond. A commemorative plaque and granite time capsule cover also occupy the space.2 / 2

For 75 years, St. Croix Electric Cooperative has been "powering communities, while empowering members to improve their quality of life."

On Monday, Nov. 5 - 75 years to the day since the cooperative was formed - more than 400 Cooperative members gathered at the Hammond office for an open house.

Throughout the day, members were treated to facility tours; cake and refreshments; an equipment display; and historical displays and videos.

For many, it was the first time they stopped at the cooperative for something other than paying a bill.

"Seventy-five years ago, our 36 founders had a dream of bringing electricity to rural St. Croix County. Today, we celebrate their legacy," said St. Croix Electric Cooperative President and CEO Mark

Pendergast. "The cooperative has been member-owned since its inception and, even in 2012, new members still pay the same $5 membership fee that was required in 1937."

In addition to the open house, the cooperative relocated Pole No. 1 to the front of the office building. On May 24, 1939, the pole had the first meter on the St. Croix Electric lines installed, thus being designated Pole No. 1 and bringing light to the Lorent Lorenson farm (near Woodville).

Although the equipment on the pole was replaced over the years, the pole remained in service until early 2012. It now presides over a commemorative stainless steel plaque and granite time capsule cover.

Earlier this year, cooperative member Carol Johnson researched and wrote a history of St. Croix County before and after electricity arrived on the farms. "Lighting the Landscape: Illuminating the ways of life before and after electricity arrived in St. Croix County, Wisconsin," is a 15-page booklet with living memory contributions by cooperative members and past directors William Hoffman, Wayne Willink and Miles Wittig.

"I really enjoyed researching and writing this history piece," Johnson said. "Electricity was truly a life-changing event for the rural families - farming became more efficient and living conditions improved. I am also happy to have helped document memories from those who remember life before and after St. Croix Electric Cooperative was incorporated."

The booklet is available online at /coop-history.htm. In early 2013, a commemorative cookbook will also be published and available to the public at the cost of printing and shipping (Cooperative members receive one free cookbook per household). Anyone interested in submitting a recipe can send them to St. Croix Electric Cooperative, Attn: Dana Bolwerk, 1925 Ridgeway St., Hammond, WI 54015, or e-mail Bolwerk at

St. Croix Electric Cooperative (SCEC) was formed on Nov. 5, 1937 as a result of five farmers, who were determined to bring electricity to rural St. Croix County. Nearly two years later - May 24, 1939 - electricity was delivered to the first account.

Today, the cooperative operates 1,740 miles of distribution lines that serve more than 10,500 member accounts. SCEC strives to positively impact its community through Commitment to Community grants, scholarships, and offering members rebates and solutions to conserve energy.