“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Auburn in Placer County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)

Wise Power Plant

Wise Power Plant Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Barry Swackhamer, April 27, 2018
1. Wise Power Plant Marker
Captions: Picture top: Wise Power House on the Lincoln Highway, The Pelton Doble turbine installed in 1917, The Wise Power House in 1917. The Pelton Doble turbine today still in use (blue machinery), and The turbine on display at the Panama Pacific Exhibition in 1915.
Inscription.  History
At one time canals laced the Sierra foothills and the mountains above. Many still exist as do the reservoirs the canals linked. Originally the canals were used to funnel water to hydraulic and pacer mining. The system was well in place when the courts ruled hydraulic mining illegal in 1884. Farmers and townspeople, whose lands and towns had been devastated by floods resulting from the dirt washed downstream were ecstatic. The canal owners must have felt differently. What use would the canals be? Fortunately at that time there was a growing need for irrigation of orchard crops. The canals could still be used. Then along came electricity and canals' usefulness was cemented as they carried water to power plants.
Wise Power Plant is one of those plants. It was built between 1913 and 1917 to generate electricity from water flowing from Fordyce and Spaulding lakes. Wise was connected to the PGE "Pacific Service: system on March 4th, 1917. The electricity generated went to Stockton, then to Cordelia, and finally to the Bay Area. A by-product of the electrical generation was water for "irrigation of immense areas of deciduous
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fruit lands in one of the best productive sections of our state."
The plant is named for James H. Wise, general manager of P.G.&E. and who was in charge of the Lake Spaulding Power Plant, which at the time of completion was the largest power plant in the State (San Francisco Call September 17 1912)

A Good Story
The turbine, or "runner," in the Wise Power Plant, a Pelton Doble built in 1915, "is famous as the largest horizontal-shaft, single-discharge turbine in existence." As such it "occupied a prominent place among the exhibits in the Machinery Hall" at the 1915 Panama Pacific Exhibition in San Francisco. It was a "keynote of the entire exhibition." When installed in the plant it generated 20,000 hp. (Pacific Service Magazine, March 1917). The turbine is still in operation today - the blue machinery to the right.

Things to do right here
Continue your journey today on Old Highway 40 without using I-80. It's possible and enjoyable. Visit old towns, historical monuments, and grand vistas. It's an old time Sunday drive hearkening back to when things went slower and there was time to enjoy the sights could be enjoyed. The map at right shows Old 40 in black.
Erected by Donner Summit Historical Society.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & Commerce
Wise Power Plant Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Barry Swackhamer, April 27, 2018
2. Wise Power Plant Marker
Natural ResourcesWaterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Donner Summit Historical Society series list. A significant historical date for this entry is March 4, 1917.
Location. 38° 53.115′ N, 121° 6.274′ W. Marker is in Auburn, California, in Placer County. Marker is on Ophir Road near Werner Road, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 10530 Ophir Road, Auburn CA 95603, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Lincoln Highway (a few steps from this marker); Town of Ophir (approx. 1.2 miles away); Bloomers Cut (approx. 1.3 miles away); Jean Baptiste Charbonneau (approx. 1˝ miles away); The Auburn Joss House (approx. 1.6 miles away); Claude Chana (approx. 1.6 miles away); Gietzen Fire Station (approx. 1.6 miles away); Chinese Houses (approx. 1.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Auburn.
Credits. This page was last revised on February 13, 2019. It was originally submitted on February 9, 2019, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 635 times since then and 172 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on February 9, 2019, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.

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Jul. 15, 2024