Folsom Powerhouse

State Historic Park - California

Folsom Powerhouse State Historic Park is a historical site preserving an 1895 alternating current (AC) hydroelectric power station—one of the first in the United States. Before the Folsom powerhouse was built nearly all electric power houses were using direct current (DC) generators powered by steam engines located within a very few miles of where the power was needed. The Folsom Powerhouse, using part of the American River's rushing water to power its turbines connected to newly invented AC generators, generated three phase 60 cycle AC electricity (the same that's used today in the United States) that was boosted by newly invented transformers from 800 volts as generated to 11,000 volts and transmitted to Sacramento over a 22 mi (35 km)-long distribution line, one of the longest electrical distribution lines in the United States at the time.

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Boundary Map of the Mother Lode BLM Field Office in California. Published by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).Mother Lode - Boundary Map

Boundary Map of the Mother Lode BLM Field Office in California. Published by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Folsom Powerhouse SHP https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=501 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Folsom_Powerhouse_State_Historic_Park Folsom Powerhouse State Historic Park is a historical site preserving an 1895 alternating current (AC) hydroelectric power station—one of the first in the United States. Before the Folsom powerhouse was built nearly all electric power houses were using direct current (DC) generators powered by steam engines located within a very few miles of where the power was needed. The Folsom Powerhouse, using part of the American River's rushing water to power its turbines connected to newly invented AC generators, generated three phase 60 cycle AC electricity (the same that's used today in the United States) that was boosted by newly invented transformers from 800 volts as generated to 11,000 volts and transmitted to Sacramento over a 22 mi (35 km)-long distribution line, one of the longest electrical distribution lines in the United States at the time.
Folsom Powerhouse State Historic Park Our Mission The mission of California State Parks is to provide for the health, inspiration and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state’s extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high-quality outdoor recreation. California State Parks supports equal access. Prior to arrival, visitors with disabilities who need assistance should contact the park at (916) 985-4843. This publication is available in alternate formats by contacting: CALIFORNIA STATE PARKS P.O. Box 942896 Sacramento, CA 94296-0001 For information call: (800) 777-0369 (916) 653-6995, outside the U.S. 711, TTY relay service www.parks.ca.gov Discover the many states of California.™ Folsom Powerhouse State Historic Park 9980 Greenback Lane Folsom, CA 95630 (916) 985-4843 • 988-0205 © 2002 California State Parks (Rev. 2011) The 1895 plant, one of the oldest hydroelectric facilities in the world, was one of the nation’s first power systems to transmit high-voltage alternating current over long distances. Y our visit to Folsom Powerhouse State Historic Park, on a scenic bluff overlooking the west bank of Lake Natoma, will take you back in time to a pivotal and colorful period in California’s history. The 1895 plant, one of the oldest hydroelectric facilities in the world, was one of the nation’s first power systems to provide high-voltage alternating current over long-distance transmission lines for major municipal and industrial use. Its significance has earned it a place on the National Register of Historic Places. You will see how electricity was generated Insulating marble switchboard by falling water and transmitted 22 miles to Sacramento to power the city’s streetcars and factories. This pioneering feat became the prototype for today’s electrical transmission systems. THE POWERHOUSE STORY Horatio G. Livermore came to California in 1850 seeking gold. By 1861, realizing that he could make his fortune more easily by securing water rights on the American River, he and his sons obtained control of the Natoma Water and Mining Company. Livermore’s vision of a Folsom sawmill would require construction of a dam and canal to float the logs to the mill. At the same time, California was looking for a site to build a prison. In exchange for convict labor on the dam and canal, Livermore gave the state land for what is now Folsom Prison. H. G. Livermore died in 1879, and the company business continued to operate under the leadership of his son, Horatio Putnam Livermore. H. P. Livermore completed the dam and canal project in 1893. The logging operation proved to be unprofitable, but Livermore soon realized an opportunity to use the elevated dam water to power a hydroelectric plant that could send electricity to Sacramento. Thompson-Houston and Capital Gas companies provided electricity to Sacramento starting in 1884. They used small, coal-burning steam engines to produce limited amounts of costly electricity. During this time, J. P. Morgan bought all the stock of Edison General Electric and Thompson-Houston; he then merged them into one alternating current company with the new name General Electric. H. P. Livermore received power systems designs from Westinghouse and General Electric to build his Folsom Powerhouse. Livermore chose General Electric for its willingness to fund construction bonds. Elihu Thompson then reworked four Edison direct-current generators to create three-phase, 60-cycle alternating current generators for Folsom. Unlike direct current, alternating current could be run through transformers to decrease resistance by raising it to 11,000 volts, making possible a 22-mile transmission to Sacramento. H. P. Livermore, his brother Charles, and Albert Gallatin of Huntington-Hopkins Hardware created the Sacramento Electric Power and Light Company in 1892 to explore electricity markets for streetcars, streetlights, and factories. The arrival of three megawatts of Folsom Powerhouse Penstock room electricity in Sacramento expanded streetcar lines from four to 40 miles, gave outdoor electric lighting to many streets, provided power to the Southern Pacific Yards, and brought refrigeration to Sacramento breweries. Home use of electricity was limited at that time; later, bare light bulbs hung from the ceilings of most buildings. A TIME TO CELEBRATE The arrival of electric power at Station A in Sacramento on the morning of July 13, 1895, was a major event that called for a major celebration. September 9— California’s Admission Day—was set for a “Grand Electric Carnival.” People poured into Sacramento from throughout Northern California—30,000 from San Francisco alone. As darkness fell, the people of Sacramento and many visitors lined the brilliantly lighted streets in eager anticipation of the oncoming parade. The State Capitol building glowed with electric lights outlining the façade and the rib

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