ASME-Landmark:Folsom Power House


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 Folsom Water Power Company and the General Electric Company required and designed, respectively, accessories to achieve long-distant transmission, though many were skeptical, as at the time, electric power had never been transmitted more than five miles. The companies' 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—and on September 9, 1895, the city was brightly lit and flooded with visitors for the Grand Electric Carnival.

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).

The old Folsom Power House still shelters the machinery generated to drive streetcars and illuminate the city of Sacramento—appropriate, since the Central Electric Railway Company was the first large power customer of the Sacramento Electric Power & Light Company, thereby making it financially possible. See ASME website for more information