Jan 08

Improvements at the gas works

Gas stove ad from the San Luis Obispo Tribune 1876

Gas stove ad from the San Luis Obispo Tribune 1876


So far this is the earliest documentation of gas works I have discovered in San Luis Obispo. It appears that the gas has been on for at about a year and stores were beginning to sell gas stoves and would contract to install a gas line into the house. As previously discussed here, ten California cities had gas by the early 1870s. The first business of this type was founded in San Francisco by a Peter Donahue and his brothers who had the foundry skills to make the equipment necessary.

At one point in San Francisco, metal pipes were in such short supply that temporary pipes were drilled from straight timber. I doubt that would pass muster today. Gas was made in retorts from coal.

Interesting that the gas company has no other name.

The story is from the front page and the ad from page 3:

San Luis Obispo Tribune
August 26, 1876


–The Gas Company has contracted with the Luce Bros’, for the erection of a new bench of retorts and other improvements which will put the works in a condition second to none. Notwithstanding the slipshod manner in which the works were originally constructed by Mr. Elmore, the contractor, they have stood the ware and tare of a year’s hard service and are in as good condition to-day as any similar works in the State. When the New retorts are in position their capacity will be ample for a city of 25,000 inhabitants. Mr Luce, the inventor and patentee spent Monday and Tuesday in San Luis Obispo and left for San Francisco by Wednesday’s stage to get such portions of new machinery as is not now on the ground. The whole thing will be completed in about a month.

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