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Folsom A to Z: Folsom Powerhouse

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 "P.”

  • In the 1850s, Horatio Gates Livermore and later his sons, Horatio P. and Charles E., pioneered the development of ditches and dams on the American River for industry and agriculture.
  • One historic result was the Folsom Powerhouse, which began operations in July 1895.
  • The Folsom Powerhouse was one of the first in the country to be an alternating current hydroelectric power station.
  • Power was delivered to Sacramento at 11,000 volts, a new achievement in long-distance high-voltage transmission which the Capitol celebrated by a grand electric carnival September 9, 1895.
  • The original generating plant, still in place, remained in continuous operation until 1952, when the original Folsom Dam across the American River was destroyed to make way for the newer and larger Folsom Dam, which still stands today.
  • The Folsom Powerhouse is a two-story brick and granite building located at 9980 Greenback Lane.
  • The plant was donated by Pacific Gas and Electric Co. to the State of California to preserve its historical values.
  • The State of California designated the site as a California Historical Landmark and was named the Folsom Powerhouse State Historic Park.
  • Guests can see historic photos, interpretive exhibits and go on docent-guided tours at the Folsom Powerhouse. Some of the original generators and water turbines are still in place.
  • The Folsom Powerhouse State Historic Park is to not be confused with the Folsom Powerhouse Pub, which is just across the street.