Tacoma Public Utilities Tour

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 6/19/2003
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 7060

This is an illustrated tour of Tacoma Public Utilities -- Tacoma Power, Tacoma Water, Tacoma Rail, and the Click! network. Written and curated by David Wilma.


Tacoma’s citizens entered the public utility business in 1893 out of frustration with the cost and quality of drinking water. With voter approval, the City bought the water company, which included reservoirs, wells, and a distribution system. Along with the water system came a tiny lighting plant and a distribution system. As Tacoma experienced a boom beginning in the 1900s, residents demanded more and more electricity and more water for their growing community. Tacoma’s own railroad began as an adjunct to a trolley system for the tideflats area in 1919. The freight business became more successful than the passenger business. Tacoma Power’s Click! Network started as a way for the utility to run its power system more efficiently, and now offers customers choices for cable television and Internet access.

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