Scaguay Power Plant

 

The History

The Skaguay Power Plant was built in the Beaver Creek area, south of the Skaguay Reservoir.    Construction began in 1899 and the plant opened in 1901. It provided hydro-electric power to Victor and the local area for the next 64 years until much of the pipeline that supplied the plant was destroyed by a flood in 1965.

 

The initial cost of the project was $500,000. A steel-reinforced rock dam created the Skaguay Reservoir and a pipeline carried water to the plant, descending 1,200 feet along canyon walls to the canyon floor.  The pipeline was constructed from wood and metal, mostly redwood held together with metal rings. The plant itself centered around five turbines providing power but was also made to house those who worked there.  It included a laundry, a commissary, and a cookhouse. It was always a primitive and isolated area, connected to town only by an aerial tram and a difficult horse trail.

 

Weather challenged the plant from the beginning.  In 1912 a thunderstorm had the workers dynamiting the flood gates in order to save the dam.  In 1921, a flood damaging the aerial tram cut off Skaguay from the surrounding world for three weeks.  Finally, in 1965, rainfall over two weeks caused flooding throughout the state and killed 21 people. Three dams above Skaguay failed, and although the Skaguay dam held, the wash of debris did severe damage.  A two-mile path of muck, uprooted trees, and dead cattle destroyed the canyon. The pipeline was clogged in some areas, and in other areas completely destroyed.

 

The plant was abandoned and its remote location made it too expensive and difficult to retrieve the equipment.  Everything was simply left in place. The land is now part of the Beaver Creek Wilderness Study Area.