Folsom Powerhouse State Historic Park
Folsom Powerhouse on the American River
|Architect||H.T. Knight; Sacramento Electric Power & Light Co|
|Governing body||Bureau of Reclamation|
|NRHP Reference #||73000426|
|Added to NRHP||October 2, 1973|
|Designated NHL||May 29, 1981|
Folsom Powerhouse State Historic Park is a historical site of California, USA, preserving an early hydroelectric power station. It is located near Sacramento in the city of Folsom, overlooking Lake Natoma. Built in the late 19th century by the Natoma Water and Mining Company and prison labor from Folsom State Prison, the powerhouse first delivered electricity to Sacramento in 1895. The power station remained in operation until 1952. Pacific Gas and Electric donated the plant to the State of California, which designated the site as California Historical Landmark Number #633. The 35-acre (14.2 ha) historic park was established in 1956. The powerhouse was designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1981. Its four original water turbines are still in place.
A diversion canal took water from the American River to four 8-foot-tall (2.4 m), 750-kilowatt generators that were manufactured by the General Electric Company via four 8-foot-diameter (2.4 m) penstocks. Only two of the four generators were operating on July 13, 1895 when the powerhouse provided the first electricity to Sacramento via 22 miles (35 km) of transmission lines, making it the first place in the United States to transmit long-distance hydroelectric power.[dead link] On September 9, 1895 the new power provided by the powerhouse resulted in a "Grand Electric Carnival" celebration by decorating the state capital with thousands of light bulbs.
A second powerhouse was constructed below the original facility in 1897 to house an additional 750-kilowatt generator to meet the growing residential and public transit electricity demands of Sacramento. By the early 20th century the demand for electricity in Sacramento had out paced the capacity of the expanded Folsom Powerhouse, thus larger powerplants were built along the Yuba, Feather, and Tuolumne Rivers in order to provide power for Northern California. The San Francisco-based California Gas and Electric Company bought the Folsom Powerhouse by 1902. When the company was reorganized into the Pacific Gas and Electric Company in 1906, it retooled the powerplant and forebay.
The Folsom Powerhouse was the second powerhouse on the American River. Folsom State Prison first harnessed the river to complete its own hydroelectric powerplant in 1893.
- National Register of Historic Places
- List of Historic Civil Engineering Landmarks
- List of Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmarks
- List of California state parks
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15.
- "Folsom Powerhouse". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-06-18.
- "Folsom Powerhouse". Office of Historical Preservation, California State Parks. Retrieved 2012-10-11.
- California State Park System Statistical Report: Fiscal Year 2009/10. California State Parks. p. 20. Retrieved 2011-12-19.
- This predates Niagara Falls' transmission to Buffalo in 1897, but see International Electro-Technical Exhibition - 1891 for an earlier instance of transmission of hydroelectric power.
- "Building the Powerhouse". California State Parks. Retrieved 2011-12-19.