Charles K. Raber is president and manager of the Rocky Ford Milling & Power Company, at Junction City, the members of which company are among the advance guard of those who have seen the wonderful possibilities of converting the great water power of our streams into electricity. This immense power plant, which is the second largest in Kansas, is located at a point called Rocky Ford, about four miles up the Blue river from Manhattan, once the location of Rocky Ford Mills, and a place where every condition is ideal for the location of such a plant. This great project for the manufacture of electricity was promoted and financed by Mr. Raber and Hal Pierce, another Junction City capitalist. They built across the Blue river at the place mentioned above, a dam about 500 feet long of solid reënforced cement with massive sluiceways provided with turbines of tremendous power. They also built a modern power house and have installed in it huge dynamos of 400 kilowatt capacity and of the newest Allis-Chalmers pattern. The two large Leffel wheels, which produced 750 horse power at the opening of the plant, July 8, 1910, and capable of much greater power, have now been doubled. In 1910 several miles of distributing lines were built for the purpose of conveying electricity to Manhattan, where, under contract, it is supplied to the Manhattan Electric Light Company for distribution to the different homes in Manhattan and to drive the motors and machinery in many buildings and establishments in that city. Besides supplying the city of Manhattan it is the intention of the company to form a connection with all of the nearby towns and to supply them with electric light and power, and as this great plant is equipped to furnish unlimited power, the great advantages and cheaper cost of this power will undoubtedly induce many great industries to locate near the plant. In the construction of their lines across the country to Manhattan they set and erected the first reënforced concrete poles ever used in Kansas for a like purpose. They are six inches in diameter at the top, fifteen inches at the bottom, and support the cables used in transmission, without danger of being destroyed by prairie fires or decay. Thus the projectors of this plant, when building it, considered not only the present but looked far into the future and builded accordingly, as the construction employed will endure for ages and assures those locating there that they will be supplied with sufficient power for all time to come. This plant is also equipped for a large milling business.
Dr. Charles K. Raber was born Jan. 1, 1860, at Pine Grove, Schuykill county, Pennsylvania. He is a son of Philip A. and Martha J. (Kinney) Raber, the former of whom was a son of John Raber, a successful merchant of Lebanon, Pa., whose brother, Henry, was one of the pioneer iron manufacturers of that city. Philip A. Raber in later years was a merchant at Paragon, Ind. His brother, Samuel S. Raber, who now lives retired in Denver, Col., was well known as the general manager of the steel plant at High Bridge, N. J., where a patent steel car wheel is manufactured and where shells for the United States navy were made during the Spanish-American war. This plant dates from a time before the Revolution. Dr. Raber was educated in the public schools of Paragon, Ind., and graduated as a Doctor of Dental Surgery in the Indiana Dental College, at Indianapolis, in 1880. He practiced his profession successfully in Defiance, Ohio, until 1881, when he went to Rhinelander, Wis., where he became a member of the manufacturing lumber firm of Van Tassel & Raber. In 1889 he came to Junction City, Kan., where he resumed the practice of his profession and continued it until 1908, except for the period from July, 1901, to February, 1904, which he spent in California for the recovery of his health. In 1901 he begun the promotion of the Junction City Electric Railway, Light & Ice Company, was successful in getting it organized and was elected its president, but in July, 1901, when it was practically completed, ill health compelled him to resign his office with the company, as well as the presidency of the Junction City Commercial Club and as vice-president of the Central National Bank, and to remove to California for the recuperation of his health. He returned to Junction City in February, 1904, and at once took up the project of damming the Republican river a short distance north of town for power purposes. Some two years were spent by Dr. Raber and Mr. Pierce, who was associated with him in this project, in trying to secure from the war department the permission to dam, as the other bank belonged to the Fort Riley reserve. Failing in this they then took up the project they have carried to a successful completion at Rocky Ford. Dr. Raber is also vice-president and general manager of the Blue River Power Company. He built more good residences in Junction City than any other person. The Raber Flats, a stone structure of two stories and a basement, is one of the fine buildings of the city and has nine suites of rooms, with a frontage of 230 feet. Dr. Raber is a Republican in politics and was elected mayor of Junction City, in 1893, when he received a vote of 800 out of 900 votes cast, and for his second term was urged by a petition signed by every merchant of the town except two. He was one of the chief organizers of the Commercial Club, was unanimously chosen as its first and second president and is still a member of the club. He was vice-president of the Central National Bank six years and is now a trustee of the George Smith Library. He is a member of Union Lodge, No. 7, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, is a member of the Chapter and Commandery at Junction City, and is a Noble of the Mystic Shrine, Temple of Isis at Salina. He is also a member of the Country Club.
In June, 1883, Dr. Raber married Clara, daughter of John Kennish of Kilbourn City, Wis., an architect. She is a graduate of Lawrence University at Appleton, Wis., and is a prominent social leader in Junction City, having been president of the Ladies' Reading Club three times and now president of the Fifth District Federated Clubs. Dr. and Mrs. Raber have one daughter, Cecil F., who in the wife of Walter Rockwell (See sketch).Pages 765-767 from volume III, part 2 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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