Tom Roane applied for a charter in 1908 to build a hydroelectric generating plant near a waterfall on Stekoa Creek south of Clayton. By 1914, Clayton Power and Light Company had electric lines on primitive poles on Clayton's main arteries. More than fifty homes and businesses were customers by 1915. According to a family member who operated the Blue Ridge Hotel on North Main Street, Roane did not meter the electric use of his customers, but instead charged per light fixture in the home or business.
By 1927, Roane's electric company had connected to Georgia Power's system, and The Clayton Tribune asserted that "we are now assured of ample electric facilities...in the future." Georgia Power bought out all Roane's business in 1928. Tom Roane was a pioneer who deserves "a great deal of credit for his initiative in giving Clayton power when it was in so much need of it; said the Tribune in December of 1928.
At the turn of the twentieth century, Rabun County remained largely isolated from the outside world. This would change dramatically with the coming of a railroad which also brought tourism, logging and dam building.
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