Historic Hood River
It’s been a while since we talked about the 1913 Condit Dam project. In its day it was the biggest thing to happen in the area. Many Hood River men (like these) traveled to the work camp to help construct the project, and the power which it generated helped fuel the growth of Hood River. The twin turbines in the powerhouse generated 14.7 megawatts of electricity, which dwarfed the first Powerdale project. With this dam, the White River dam near the Dalles, and the 1923 Powerdale project this region had ample and reliable power, ending the era of the pioneering projects like Tucker Bridge and the first Powerdale. This new era would soon be ended by the construction of the Bonneville Dam (whose first powerhouse generated 40 times the power of this project), but that’s another story.
We see here the penstock flumes which carried water impounded by the dam to the lower powerhouse which contained those twin turbines. It’s hard to believe they could construct such enormous pipes out of local lumber, but we’ve even seen a picture of Ella May Davidson visiting the construction site.
Shortly after this project was complete construction began on another transformative project: the Columbia River Highway. We can only imagine what it was like to see projects like this which fundamentally transformed the region and its economy. The vast photographic record local photographers left us attests to their level of interest.
The dam was breached and pretty much all trace of it removed in 2011 to restore the fish habitat on the White Salmon River. Fortunately we still have photographs like this to help tell this story.