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There Was AND...


75 Years in the Making: T e story of Oklahoma’s fi rst rural electric cooperative By Anna Politano O


n the night of December 23, 1936 there was more to celebrate than the immi- nence of Christmas Eve for some farmers in western Oklahoma. Many wish they could have witnessed the sparkle in the ranchers’ eyes or the wonder wrapped around farm wives and children during the cold winter of 1936.


The crude means of life on the farm was about to change. How would it feel to fl ip a switch instead of placing coal-oil lights around the house? Would makeshift methods of keeping food from spoilage and wood-burning stoves give way to refrigerators and electric stoves? Would outdoor plumbing cease to be a mainstay for farming families? Consumers Rural Electric Company – today’s Ci- marron Electric Cooperative – was incorporated at Kingfi sher, Okla. that historic December day. Earl Harrison, one of the cooperative’s members and trustees, was the initial person to be hooked up to the fi rst energized lines on December 4, 1937. Life for the Oklahoma farmer was about to get brighter.


20 OKLAHOMA LIVING Out of the Dark


Times were tough in the 1930s as America recovered from the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl clouded Oklahoma. Profi t-oriented electric companies had little interest in furnishing sparsely populated rural areas with electric power. To them, it was not fi nancially sound to build power lines and supply electric service outside well-populated urban centers.


Roy Boecher, the first general manager of Consumers Rural Electric Company would later write, “It seemed for many years that the farm- er and other residents of rural America would never be able to escape the inconvenience and, in some cases, danger of old-fashioned lighting and appliances. At this time, only fi ve percent of the farmers had electric service, and these few were adjacent to cities and towns.” However, there were rays of hope shining on rural America. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt established the Rural Electrifi cation Administration in 1935. As a result, in 1936 the Rural Electrifi cation Act was created to provide federal loans to member-owned rural electric coop- eratives for the installation of electrical distribution systems in rural areas.


Photos courtesy of Cimarron Electric


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