William C. Whitner, a native of Anderson, S.C. was a graduate in engineering from the University of South Carolina. His first work was in railroad engineering but a severe case of typhoid fever forced him into a long convalescense in his father's home. While there the town of Anderson asked him to build a water works systems and an electric plant. In 1890 he completed a steam-driven electric plant. It turned out to be too expensive.
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Whitner's problem-solving mind soon conceived the idea of generating the electrictity using turbulent river water and then delivering the power by wire to its source. For advice he went to New York to see Nicholas Tesla, the great Serbian scientist who had perfected the alternating current motor.
Whitner returned to Anderson and leased High Shoals in 1894. Both Westinghouse and General Electric had refused to wind a motor for such high voltage but Whitner proved Tesla to be correct. .Soon, Anderson was christened "The Electric City."