More on the Great Western Power Company

GWPCo-Ivanhoe

I found another utility-hole cover from the Great Western Power Company at the south end of Ivanhoe Street, where it must have been since the late 1920s. This firm was a bigger deal than I thought last month. (Previous post here)

At its peak, the Great Western network, under the leadership of Mortimer Fleishhacker, extended all the way across California. Starting in 1908, the company dammed the Feather River at Big Meadows to create Lake Almanor reservoir, given its name for Alice, Martha and Elanor — the three children of the company’s vice president, Oakland lawyer Guy Earl.

almanor
Lassen Peak and Lake Almanor, 22 September 2006

More dams and turbines were built along the Feather River to generate electricity in a mighty “stairway of power.” The power lines ran from there all the way to Oakland.

The colorful origin story of Great Western in 1905, and the colorful story of how Great Western invaded PG&E’s market in the Santa Rosa region in 1912, are both well told on the Comstock House website.

In another remnant of the once-great firm, the Great Western Power Trail in El Cerrito runs where a substation once supplied electricity to the Hutchinson Quarry (presumably part of the Hutchinson construction empire that left its sidewalk stamps all over Oakland).

I’m thinking that these covers survive in other places outside Oakland.

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One Response to “More on the Great Western Power Company”

  1. Mike Fitz Says:

    Love the history lessons, Andrew! Great work, thank you!

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