Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Hydroelectric Power for Tram from Where?

Friends of the SALINE VALLEY SALT TRAM
www.SaltTram.blogspot.com   SalineValleySaltTram@gmail.com
Salt Tram history is rapidly disappearing, and we are striving to rediscover the efforts of our forefathers in order to give proper recognition to their hopes, dreams and abundant sweat from an era that is rapidly fading from our memories. We are actively seeking out information about the mining of Salt in Saline Valley between 1903 and the 1940's, including: documents, photos, articles, stories, artifacts, etc. If you can help us out, please email us at the address above - Thank-you! --Tim and Brian Waag, the Waag brothers (aka E. Clampus Waagus).
Caution (PLEASE READ): Climbing around on the tramway is dangerous because its really old and defnitely unsafe, so don't even think about it. Shoot, just getting to it requires some perilous hiking, and if you don't believe me, just take a look at the Zig Zag Access Trail (or what's left of it). Plus, climbing on it weakens it and endangers your life. Also, the Saline Valley Salt Tram is on the National Register of Historic Places and should be treated with the respect that it deserves. What little remains is of great historic value, and should not be disturbed in any way. Heck, its probably against the law to move parts of the tram around, and certainly a crime to take home some of the few bits of it that remain (though you'd have to ask your friendly local BLM agent for details). So please treat it with the respect it deserves, so that future generations can enjoy whats left, without you messing it up. Really. Please. You can see its listing on the National Register of Historic Places at these web links:
National Register of Historic Places 1          National Register of Historic Places 2

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QUESTION1: (Salt Tram Electrical Supply): Investigate the source of the electricity supplied to the Salt Tram. Where did it come from? How much did it cost? How did they pay for it?

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Let's start with what we know:
  1. Nov. 1908: The first of 2 upgraded turbine generators (outputting 1,200kW) went online at the Cottonwood Canyon Hydroelectric Powerplant on Nov. 13, 1908 (source: http://keck.ucsf.edu/~krb/aque9.html). According to Cottonwood Canyon Hydroelectric Powerplant operator Jaime Gonzalez, who we spoke with in November, 2010, he said that Unit #1 at the plant is a Westinghouse and was installed in 1908; Unit #2 is a Doble and was installed in 1909. Unlike Division Creek Hydroelectric plant, which largely runs year 'round on spring water, Cottonwood runs primarily on snow melt, so was running at a low level when we visited. Mr. Gonzalez indicated that Unit #1 is run when runoff is low (like it was then) because it has a diversionary channel so that if there is an unexpected surge in the flow, the water does NOT flood the pump room, but instead diverts around the turbine and flows harmlessly into the LA Aquaduct below. He indicated that we need to talk to his boss Jeff to see if we can get a photo of the original turbines for our Salt Tram book. Mr. Gonzalez also disputed (politely) that redwood water pipes were ever used at Cottonwood, so I'll have to check on that one too.
  2. April 1911: city of Independence gets hooked up to power (from where, we do not know)
  3. June, 1913: Inyo Cerro Gordo Mining and Power Company Incorporated (Lewis thinks this means something?)
  4. July 1913: the Salt Tram begins operation with electrical power (from where, we do not know)
  5. Jan. 1916: Electric Power was provided to the (Cerro Gordo?) mine by the Southern Sierras Power Company
  6. 1913 (when?): Electric power lines ran from Lone Pine Creek, around the north end of Owens Drying Lake to the Saline Valley Salt Tram
  7. 1916: power lines run to Cerro Gordo via Keeler; also in 1916, the newly constructed Leschen Aerial Wire Rope (Electric) Tramway was put in service from Cerro Gordo down to Keeler
This still leaves the question of: where did the Saline Valley Salt Company get its power to run the tramway? The ASCE May 1917 document seems to think it came from Cottonwood Canyon Hydroelectric Plant (what was the power company name?). Here's the word-for-word quote from the ASCE document, followed by the document itself (note that by 1917, the ASCE had already learned that it needed to lawyer up!):

Page 727 (last paragraph of page):
The erection of the line was pushed energetically, and the tramway was ready for preliminary test on June 10th, [1913], but the electrical con-

Page 728 (first paragraph of page):
-nections from the power-house of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, which is in Cottonwood Canyon on the opposite side of Owens Lake, were not completed until later. The first bucket of salt arrived at the discharge terminal on July 2d, 1913, and was the occasion for a great demonstration.



































































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GOT THIS FROM LEWIS (GHOSTTOWNEXPLORERS.COM) CERRO GORDO ELECTRIC COMPANY: The Inyo Cerro Gordo Mining and Power Company was incorporated June 2, 1913 under the laws of the State of Arizona as successor to the Four Metals Mining Company, which went into bankruptcy in 1912. A number of the stockholders had joined together in an effort to save the property of the bankrupt company. The Cerro Gordo Mines Company was incorporated under the laws of the State of Arizona July 16, 1914, the principal stockholders being Inyo Cerro Gordo Mining and Power Company. The principal property was the Cerro Gordo Mine in Inyo County which produced lead, silver, gold and zinc. Annual reports in the collection have detailed information about the history and operations of these companies. The last annual report in the collection is for the year 1919. ***** In Jan 1916 Electric Power was provided to the mine by the Southern Sierras Power Company. ***** Engineering problems plagued the Montgomery. By 1913, electric transmission lines had been brought from Lone Pine creek, across the north end of the Owens Lake ("drying") to the Saline Valley Salt Tram, just north of Swansea. By 1916 the power lines had been extended to Cerro Gordo via Keeler. That year, on the same alignment as the Montgomery, the newly constructed Leschen Aerial Wire Rope (Electric) Tramway was put in service from Cerro Gordo. Its terminus was over a spur of the Carson and Colorado Narrow Guage R.R., where Cerro Gordo zinc was dumped into open cars and shipped to smelters clear into Kansas.

By 1906 The Four Metals Mining and Smelting Co. had constructed the five mile long (as the crow flys) Montgomery Tram. From the main mine, its terminus was just short of Keeler at a large company owned silver smelter. Engineering problems plagued the Montgomery. By 1913, electric transmission lines had been brought from Lone Pine creek, across the north end of the Owens Lake ("drying") to the Saline Valley Salt Tram, just north of Swansea. By 1916 the power lines had been extended to Cerro Gordo via Keeler. That year, on the same alignment as the Montgomery, the newly constructed Leschen Aerial Wire Rope (Electric) Tramway was put in service from Cerro Gordo. Its terminus was over a spur of the Carson and Colorado Narrow Guage R.R., where Cerro Gordo zinc was dumped into open cars and shipped to smelters clear into Kansas.

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OWENS VALLEY ELECTRIC POWER SOURCE RESEARCH TEAM!
We recently asked our friend Brian of Lone Pine to look into the power supply issue for the Saline Valley Salt Tram. The American Society for Civil Engineering document of May, 1917, directly states that the electrical power to run the Salt Tram was supplied by Cottonwood Creek Hydroelectric plant, which coincidentally, is still running today. Brian has a friend named Bill, who is a noted local historian and former LADWP employee, who did not believe that was the case. Ah, another Salt Tram mystery to uncover.

Here are some notes from Brian of Lone Pine:
Before the Los Angeles Aquaduct was built, Edison built a power line down the Owens Valley to Los Angeles (date?), with electricity generated from a Hydroelectric Power Plant in Bishop Creek (source: Edison’s Centennial Publication). The power line was to supply electricity to the mines, including another line built to Goldfield, Nevada. They also supplied electricity to Swansea, Keeler and Darwin (when?). Bill does not believe the Cottonwood Canyon supplied the Salt Tram with power because the Cottonwood plant electricity was used exclusively with supply power for the construction of the Aquaduct, since Edison (???) at that time was NOT in the power supply business until the first decades of the 20th century. Brian of Lone Pine states that the Salt Tram could have gotten power from a closer location (assumedly he is referring to Swansea), yet Swansea is getting its power from Edison, so it’s the same thing. Also, at that time, was the power company Southern Sierras Power Company (that supplied electricity to Cerro Gordo Mines and Tramway in 1916) or Edison? Bill and Brian will get out next week (week of 1/11/2010) to see if there is any evidence on the ground. Clearly, more work needs to be done here to solve this mystery.

Update from Brian of Lone Pine 1/14/2010:
Went snooping around with Bill on 1/12. Reviewed the Cottonwood Hydroelectric plant site [Tim: heard rumors that older turbine equipment was still onsite - hope to check that out someday]. There was a substation just before the Lone Pine Dump (see A. A. Forbes photo below). They report that nothing is left but a rectangular berm outline, located adjacent to the Southern Pacific row [row?]. At the Cottonwood Plant there is a power diagram showing a connection to the Line Pine Dump Substation, with no date but a reference number - will see if we can find more definitive information. Brian has a friend with the LADWP who will look into their archives, as well as those of S. C. Edison (suppliers of power to Keeler - today? or back in the Salt Tram days?). The service power line to Keeler and Darwin left the main Edison line south of the Lone Pine Dump Substation. The only pwer line heading east out of Cottonwood goes as far as the Southern Pacific Row (right of way?) and then turns north. Will keep you posted as we learn more. [Thanks Brian and Bill - many thanks to our men on the ground in Lone Pine!].

Found this photo (in the book: Images of America: Lone Pine, author: Christopher Langley, Copyright 2007, Published by Arcadia Publishing, page 80 - bottom), ironically enough, by A. A. Forbes. Believe it is the substation that Brian and Bill were alluding to in the previous paragraph?



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I checked the Inyo Independent Log and found some information of possible useage. Note: you can see this log for yourself at

http://salttram.blogspot.com/2009/12/periodical-log.html

Here's what I found that might be useful in this initial quest for the Salt Tram electrical power source:

article 1 (9/23/1910):
TO HAVE ELECTRIC LIGHTS:
Within Forty Days Independence Will Have Streets
and Houses Lighted by Electricity
Feature length page 1 article with 4 paragraphs.
Summary: Discusses completion of lighting for the streets of Independence “with electricity to be furnished by the Los Angeles Aquaduct”. The city agreed to furnish and maintain 2 [wow!] lights, with the citizens in attendance willing to supply and maintain at least 10 more. The lights will be 32 candle power. For street lighting, the city will charge $10 a year for each light. Supervisors also agreed to pay for 2 more lights for the courthouse yard outside the jail. Independence citizens have already put up $500 to run power lines into town. “The power will come from both Division Creek and Cottonwood Creek”. Citizens were left to negotiate the running of power to their individual homes. [wow!].

article 2 (4/21/1911):
(Around Town)
Independence now has street lights.
"Main Street is now well lighted with electricity and reports state that in the near future that arc lights will be put on the back streets". [entire article, word for word]

Attached is a photo of what the Power Station at Control Station 2 looked like in its prime (photo is taken facing towards CS 2). Photo Courtesy of the Eastern California Museum.
























We are encouraging BLM to consider leading a partial stabilization of Control Station 2 (similar to what was done at the Summit Station, or Control Station 3), perhaps they could take the baby step of rebuilding the electrical substation (shown in the photo), which would require much less effort. I dug up a current photo of it - pretty much everything is still there! The first photo is a contemporary view of the power station at CS 2, along with a closeup of the transformers and insulators. We can provide the labor, tools, etc. if it ever gets that far. Kirk Halford managed to completely rebuild the Salt Tram Summit Caretaker's Cabin (a HUGE task), plus stabilize the Summit Control Station - both amazing accomplishments. Sadly, he is moving on, but we hope that the value of what is left of the Salt Tram is felt to be worth saving, by the powers that be.


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