IGC was power supplier for new Alcoa smelter
Joy Graham

In 1952 Rockdale, Texas was thrust i nto b ig c hange. T he

U.S. was in the Korean War and needed aluminum to build aircraft.

A legend from Pleasant Hill, south of McAlister Fuel Company’s headquarters, was that a resident dreamed of finding gold between two large oak trees in the mid 1920’s.

Little did anyone dream that lignite coal could be that “gold.” There were thousands of acres of lignite there.

Lignite was mentioned as early as 1840 by Francis Moore Jr., in his book: “In the banks of the Brazos and Little Brazos rivers are immense beds of coal or lignite.”

Construction of the three power generators by Texas Power and Light (IGC) and the Alcoa’s smelter began about the same time in the early 1950s.

Contractors moved into the power location. Combustion Engineering and Ebasco Services Inc.weretwoofthelargerconstruction companies, supported by numerous smaller companies and Dean Skinner of Austin which built the 500 acre lake.

Upon completion of the power plant, IGC’s force was headed up by vice-president and consultant E. T. Keck from TP&L’s Dallas office.

Frank Stockton served as the power department superintendent and T. L. Austin. Jr. as the fuel department superintendent. John Weed Jr. was the production superintendent at the Mines until his retirement in 1957.

Experienced TP&L employees transferred to IGC from other locations across Texas.

Employees of McAlister Fuel including John Weed Jr., superintendent of the mine and employees Fr itz Koch, Collie Gest, Elwood Seelke, Web Gilley, Charlie Doss Jr., Earnest Schlemmer, and Edgar Tucker worked during the transition to Texas Utilities up until they retired.

T. L. Austin was promoted to General Superintendent in 1954 and Russell Brooks replaced Austin, who retired.

In 1966, Earl Voskamp ran the Mines and W. E. “Bill Davis” the power plant. Other employees included Richard Wiggins, Jim Carter and Ike Heide

Continued next week.

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