Folsom Power House #1

1895

One of the first successful uses of hydroelectric power in the world, including the first successful long-distance transmission of power.

The historic Folsom Power House #l marks one of the first successful uses of hydroelectric power in the world and the first successful transmission of power long distance (twenty-two miles to Sacramento). The old Folsom Power House still shelters the machinery generated to drive streetcars and illuminate the city of Sacramento.

Folsom Water Power Company and the General Electric Company required and, respectively, designed accessories to achieve long-distant transmission, though many were skeptical. Their gamble and the plans of Horatio P. Livermore made the success of the Folsom Power House possible. On July 13, 1895, Sacramento celebrated its full advent into the electrical age.

Before its canal lay dry, water from the American River had been directed into four pairs of mccormick turbines, which were connected to three-phase generators that provide 3,000 kilowatts. A 26-foot fall of water would then be carried by tailrace to a low-head turbine and subsidiary generator. The equipment is intact but was retired in 1952. The plant was given to the State of California in 1958, in ceremonies sponsored by American Institute of Electrical Engineers (now IEEE).

Folsom Powerhouse generators Sectional view of the Folsom Powerhouse generators. In 1895 they were reported to be the largest three-phase dynamos
 
 

For More Information

Folsom Lake State Recreation Area
7806 Folsom-Auburn Road
Folsom, CA 95630

Useful Links

Teaching Unit on Electricity (California Science Standards Compatible for Grade 4)
http://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/501/files/unit.pdf

Teacher's Guide
http://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/501/files/guide.pdf