Folsom A to Z: Horatio Gates Livermore

By: Rachel Zirin, Senior Reporter
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Editor’s note: Folsom A to Z is an intermittent series in the Telegraph where readers can learn facts and history about Folsom. Each week, the Telegraph will select a landmark, place, historical figure and major historical event that start with the next letter of the alphabet. This week we continue with “L.”

  • Horatio Gates Livermore was born in 1807 in Livermore.
  • His parents were Isaac Livermore and Elizabeth Kinney.
  • Livermore was one of eight siblings.
  • The Livermore family line dates back to 1545.
  • Livermore married Elizabeth King Slater and had three children, Charles Edward, Ellen and Horatio Putnam.
  • Livermore and his sons, Horatio Putnam and Charles Edward, made a lasting impression on the City of Folsom.
  • In 1862, the family gained control of the Natoma Water and Mining Company.
  • In 1866, the Natoma Water and Mining Company recognized the water power potential of the American River and began to implement a large-scale plan to transform Folsom into a manufacturing center.
  • Livermore passed away on Nov. 11, 1879.
  • Central to the plan was a dam of granite and concrete, which was completed in 1893.
  • The Folsom Water and Power Company was incorporated in 1881, with Charles Edward Livermore as president, in anticipation that there would be an industrial application for the electrical power in Sacramento.
  • A 40-foot wide canal from the dam was built leading downhill with the intent of generating power for the envisioned cotton and woolen mills, paper-making plant and a carpet mill in Folsom.
  • The American River Land and Lumber Company was launched by Horatio Putnam Livermore in 1888 with the purchase of 9,000 acres of forest land between the middle and south forks of the American River.
  • The boulder-strewn river could never be cleared enough to make the endeavor profitable and the lumber mill was eventually moved closer to logging operations.
  • Horatio Putnam also incorporated the Sacramento Electric Power and Light Company in 1892, which was later purchased by PG&E.
  • The Folsom Powerhouse was completed in 1895.
  • Long distance transmission lines carried 23 miles of high-voltage alternating current for the first time, lighting the streets of Sacramento.
  • The new hydroelectric technology replaced water wheels.
  • The Folsom Powerhouse provided electricity to Sacramento until 1952 when it was dedicated to the state and replaced by the Folsom Dam.
  • The Folsom Powerhouse State Historic Park is both a state and national historic landmark.