BV power plant 1888

This photo from Buena Vista Heritage, taken in 1897, shows the power plant on the Arkansas River located by the Barbara Whipple Bridge.

The power plant provided electricity to Buena Vista beginning in 1888. 

A wooden crib dam was constructed on the River and the reservoir contained about 300 acre feet of water. 

A wooden flume fed the water into the power plant and its two hydroelectric units that provided direct current to the residents of BV. 

The electric plant was purchased by other companies over the years. In 1927 the power was extended a short way up Chalk and Cottonwood creeks and then to the Colorado State Reformatory. 

When the dam washed out in 1928, it was rebuilt using slag from the power plant at the end of Main Street. 

In 1940, Sangre de Cristo Electric Cooperative came into the valley and took over the power plant. 

The system, including an added Diesel Plant, were failing and when the dam washed out again in 1948, Sangre de Cristo had to get power from other sources.

For more information on the heritage behind the history of Buena Vista, visit

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