A history of TECO Peoples Gas Part 1

TECO Peoples Gas history

Gas appliance demonstration truck. Courtesy of Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library

We’d like for you to get to know us better here at TECO Peoples Gas, so we’re sharing our life story in this blog. We’ve been around since 1895, so we’ll keep this short by separating it into two parts. Enjoy our trip down memory lane.

Early Florida

In the late 1800s, railroad pioneers started to develop Florida. Henry Flagler built railroads and hotels and started assorted businesses down the east coast. Henry Plant built hotels, rail lines and other enterprises down the west coast. These efforts helped grow the then-small communities of Jacksonville, Tampa and Miami. And the growth brought an ever-increasing need for energy to light new urban streets.

TECO Peoples Gas history

Gas company employees in Tampa with horse-drawn service vehicles. Courtesy of Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library

That energy was provided by gas manufactured from coal. Laborers dug trenches by hand, block by block, to install the gas main infrastructure to supply the gas. This delivery system would eventually grow to become today’s modern system of gas distribution throughout Florida.

Growth of manufactured gas

Gas service first began in the mid-1850s in Jacksonville. Around 1900, gas manufacturing facilities  also started running in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Miami, Miami Beach, Ft. Lauderdale and Orlando.

The original Miami gas plant was located in the pine woods several miles from the town center. It employed seven people and served 68 homes and businesses. Tampa was basically a fishing port at that time, but began to grow when phosphate was discovered close by and the fledgling cigar industry also began to flourish.

The 1920s to 1950s

TECO Peoples Gas History

An appliance showroom in South Florida

In the 1920s, gas lights gave way to the electric light bulb. But this didn’t stop the gas business. The industry shifted its focus from mainly providing street lighting to distributing manufactured gas for other uses such as cooking, heating and water heating. Showrooms displayed the variety of natural gas appliances that customers could select.

TECO Peoples Gas history

A Miami main extension in the 1940s

As Florida continued to grow, the need for gas continued to increase as well. New gas mains were extended out from the original gas piping that served the center of the towns to reach outlying communities and businesses.

 

TECO Peoples Gas gas storage facilities

Manufactured gas storage facilities. Courtesy of Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library

Enormous new gas storage holders were built to meet the increased demand from residential, industrial and commercial customers. These facilities were soon among the dominant structures on Florida’s city skylines.

To be continued . . . . . . .

 

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