Shoshone Hydroelectric Plant Complex, Glenwood Canyon Colorado

Date added: January 18, 2010 Categories: Colorado Power Plant Hydroelectric Power

The Shoshone complex is significant for being one of the earliest hydroelectric plants on the Colorado River and one of the largest in the Rocky Mountain Region to depend upon the flow of a river for its source of power rather than on the stored water of a reservoir. It is also significant as a remarkable engineering accomplishment in terms of the physical difficulties of construction within Glenwood Canyon and the scale of the undertaking.

Construction of the Shoshone Hydroelectric Plant complex in Glenwood Canyon, Colorado, was an engineering accomplishment of great proportions in the first decade of the twentieth century. Begun near the end of 1906 and completed by the spring of 1911, the complex consists of the power plant and its support buildings, a 2 1/3-mile-long water diversion tunnel, an intake diversion dam, and a 153-mile power transmission line.

The Shoshone Hydroelectric Plant complex has provided power for the citizens of Colorado through more than 100 years of uninterrupted service. Originally, most of the power generated at Shoshone was transmitted over the mountains to Leadville and to Denver on a 90,000-volt transmission line. This line is still in service today with a 115,000-volt capacity but most of the power from Shoshone is now utilized on Colorado's western slope. A second transmission line of 69,000 volts serves the Glenwood Springs area and ties into a broad western slope transmission network. In addition, the Shoshone plant has a 13,000-volt distribution line which serves the dam site, the White River National Forest rest area east of the dam, and the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad in Glenwood Canyon. This distribution line also provided power to the few residential and commercial buildings located within the canyon. These buildings have now been removed as part of the Interstate highway construction project.