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California Genealogy and History Archives

Biographies
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San Bernardino County and Riverside County

 

ELMER CUTTING, superintendent of the Riverside light department, is a man who has devoted himself to electrical work, particularly that connected with the installation and maintenance of electric light plants, and is recognized as one of the most expert men in his line in the Southwest. Mr. Cutting was born at Wooster, Massachusetts, August 18, 1864, a son of Elmer and Francisco (Fairbanks) Cutting, both of whom are now deceased. The father was born in Vermont and belonged to a family of Revolutionary stock and Scotch descent. The mother, also a native of Vermont, came of English descent, and belonged to the Fairbanks family which erected the old Fairbanks homestead at Dedham, Massachusetts.

Educated in the public schools and Arms Academy at Shelburn Falls, Massachusetts, Elmer Cutting, the younger, proved a bright and ambitious pupil. He was reared on a farm, but two years after he had completed his schooling he went to Boston, Massachusetts, and in 1887 he left that city for San Francisco, California. On his way to the later city he stopped at Riverside, and was so pleased with the locality that he did not forget it, but returned to it in 1891, and secured a position with the city administration. After occupying several positions in the different branches of the municipality he was engaged to assist in installing the municipal electric plant in 1896. When it was completed he held various positions with it, including that of station operator, general foreman and superintendent, and has held that latter position for the past nine years. This plant built the first long distance, high voltage transmission line in the United States, and Mr. Cutting had the distinction of being the first man to operate a high voltage sub-station in the country.

The people voted to sell $40,000 bonds to establish the distributing system at a time when Government ownership was being very strongly advocated. This was during the McKinley-Bryan campaign, when the populist party took a prominent part in politics. It was probably on account of the strong advocacy of Government ownership at that time that the city had no trouble in voting the bond issue. After the City Council took up the matter of building the distributing system it was found that the $40,000 was an inadequate amount to construct both the distributing system and the generating plant. As a result they had to go elsewhere for power.

About three years previous to that time a few Redlands business men in order to acquire an electrical current for the use of Redlands installed an electrical generating plant in Mill Creek Canyon, which was one of the first alternating plants to be installed on the Pacific Coast. In fact the work of generating an alternating current was so new that a standard of frequency had not been established, and for that reason the generators used were of the fifty-cycle type. Since these generators were of the fifty-cycle type, all other generating plants in Southern California, with the exception of a very few, have been built to conform to the Riverside standard. All over the country elsewhere the sixty-cycle type has been used as the standard.

In addition to his connection with this plant Mr. Cutting is otherwise interested and owns a fine peach and walnut grove at Riverside, from which he extracts profit and pleasure. In politics he is an independent, but has been too much engaged in his work to be active in public affairs. During the early years of his residence at Riverside he served for three years as county horticultural inspector, but aside from that has not held any office. Fraternally he belongs to the Odd Fellows and Woodmen of the World. For some time he has been an active member of the Present Day Club.

On June 18, 1897, Mr. Cutting married at Riverside Miss Lena Garner, a native of Kansas, and a daughter of the late Edward Garner of Kansas. Mr. and Mrs. Cutting have three children, namely : Grace A., who is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley ; Dorothy R., who is a graduate of the Riverside High School ; and Elmer, who is a student of the Riverside High School. A hard-working, practical man, Mr. Cutting has rendered his section a service which cannot be easily overestimated, and much of the efficient working of the plant must be placed to his credit. His interest in his work is sincere, and he is recognized as one of the best-qualified men in electrical matters today. What he knows he has acquired first-hand, through his own experience. Having held the positions himself, he knows just what to expect from the men under him and therefore is able to conduct the work in a satisfactory manner to all parties concerned. His knowledge, in other words, is practical, not theoretic, although no man has a clearer and more concise knowledge of the principles of his calling. Personally he is popular and is looked upon as one of the representative men of Riverside County.

 

Source:
History of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties 
By: John Brown, Jr., Editor for San Bernardino County 
And James Boyd, Editor for Riverside County 
With selected biography of actors and witnesses of the period 
of growth and achievement.
Volume III, the Western Historical Association, 1922, 
The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, ILL

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011