Seattle.gov Home Page
Seattle.gov This Department
Link to Seattle City Light Home Page Link to Seattle City Light Home Page Link to Seattle City Light About Us Page Link to Seattle City Light Contact Us Page
Lighting Seattle since 1905 Jorge Carrasco, Superintendent
Ross Dam during construction
Tours
Home
Skagit
Tours
Boundary
Tours

Flowers

Skagit Project
back in time

Dam builders riding Incline lift

From the beginning, visionary J.D. Ross had a dream. The self-taught engineer and Seattle City Light’s second superintendent envisioned a day when the waters of the Skagit River would be harnessed for Seattle by a series of three dams.

The road was not easy -- in fact, there was no road at all. So Seattle City Light built a 22-mile railroad from Rockport to Diablo.

Today, you can stop in Newhalem and climb aboard the cab of Old Number Six, a restored Baldwin steam engine that carried supplies and equipment to build the dams and powerhouses. It also brought employees and tourists to the Skagit until 1954.

In December 1917, Ross received the go-ahead from the federal government and began construction. Seattle City Light dedicated the first Skagit Powerplant, Gorge, in 1924. Construction continued through three more decades with the completion of Diablo (1936) and Ross (1952) powerplants.

Today, these dams remain an important part of the utility’s water storage and generating facilities, producing nearly 20 percent of the electricity used in Seattle.


For more Skagit history on the web, visit the Seattle Municipal Archives site or see www.historylink.org. You may also download and print "Light Years", a short history of Seattle City Light (pdf, 120kb), Walking Tour of Historic Newhalem (pdf 288 kb), and The Romance of City Light (pdf 1315 kb).


Due to heightened security, Seattle City Light has restricted access to certain areas of the Skagit River Hydroelectric Project.

There is no public access to Ross and Diablo Powerhouses and the Incline Railway. Other seasonal attractions, including the Gorge Powerhouse Visitors' Gallery, are open May through September. Ladder Creek Falls, the Trail of the Cedars and the Gorge Dam Overlook Trail remain open year-round for public use.






For additional information, please send email to SkagitTours Information Center at SkagitTours.reservations@seattle.gov or call 360.854.2589.

Local Sights | Q&A | Skagit History | Skagit General Store


Skagit Project       |       Boundary Project

The Seattle City Light Web Team:

Seattle City Light -- 700 5th Avenue, Suite 3200, Seattle, WA 98104-5031 -- 206.684.3000
Mailing address: 700 5th Avenue, Suite 3200, P.O. Box 34023 Seattle, WA 98124-4023