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January 4th, 1888 – On this day in Sioux Falls history, a second explosion at the gas house of the Sioux Falls Gas Company literally blows the roof off of natural gas street lights in Sioux Falls! Like many things in a progressive city, what started as a competition ended with a bang in Sioux Falls when the Sioux Falls Gas Company and the Electric Light Company put in competing bids to light up the city streets!

A compromise was made to award each company a portion of the city streets to light. On October 26, 1887 The very day that the Sioux Falls Gas Company began operations at 7pm an explosion was heard, glass was shattered in windows reaching from businesses along Phillips Ave. to homes more than a quarter mile away. A couple of fellas driving a cart near the building were blown out of their carriage nearly 50 feet off the road and local resident Mr. Barret who was nearby at the time passing the 10th street bridge had multiple broken bones after being thrown from the blast. Residents as far away as Baltic report hearing the blast!

In spite of all of this, repairs were made, and the company began operations again two days later! On the morning of January 4th, 1888, just over 2 months after the first blast, a smaller explosion echoed through town at about 5:30pm. This time the damage was not as serious. The gas house roof was blown in the air, the walls blown out, and close by building were shaken.

Although the physical damage was limited, the linger bits of confidence the citizens had in the system were all but depleted! After the second blast the company was sold to outside investors, but gas was not completely abandoned in Sioux Falls… though citizens would not “warm back up to the idea” for many years to come! Perhaps it was these two explosions, and a third one nearly a decade later, that inspired Sioux Falls to be one of the first cities in the Midwest to have its streets lit almost exclusively by electric power!