Constructed In 1909-10, the Weber Station Hydroelectric Power Plant is located approximately ten miles southeast of Ogden, Utah. The plant consists of a powerhouse, reinforced-concrete dam (and related structures), concrete and steel conduit, and an operators’ camp, within which are two residences and four ancillary structures. Of the ten structures included in the plant site, eight are contributing and two non-contributing. One noncontributing structure—the conduit–has been left out of the district. Thus the historic district is made up of two discontinuous elements, the dam and the powerhouse site. Since its construction, the Weber powerhouse site and dam have sustained alterations, such as the removal of two residences. However, these changes do not compromise the overall integrity of location, setting, design, materials, workmanship, feeling and association. Weber Station continues to represent an early twentieth-century, medium-head hydroelectric power plant.
The Weber Station Hydroelectric Power Plant lies in a narrow stretch of Weber Canyon along the Weber River. Squeezed between the steep canyon wall and the river are three buildings and four outbuildings which comprise the plant site. Until the mid-1970s, a state highway directly above the site provided the northern boundary. Higher on the canyon wall, the Union Pacific Railroad tracks parallel the highway. In the 1970s, western-bound lanes of Interstate 84′ superceded the state highway and eastern lanes were constructed on the south side of the Weber River, effectively isolating the camp from direct highway access. Partial rock riprapping and newer metal supports stabilize the embankment behind the camp and below the Interstate. Similar rock riprapping forms a retaining wall along the river. Along the driveway through the camp are a line of shade trees and lights at the top of the rock wall. About 1.75 miles east and upstream from the powerhouse is the reinforced-concrete dam which diverts water into the conduit. On the south side of the dam are an intake house and dam tender’s residence, which partially sits over the concrete conduit.
Constructed in 1909-10, the powerhouse sits at the eastern edge of the plant site on the Weber River. Rectangular-shaped, this brick building has a concrete foundation and a gable, poured concrete roof. The concrete roof is supported on the inside by riveted steel Fink trusses. Along the roof ridge are three round metal ventilators and a metal structure carrying electrical lines. On the north and south facades are concrete capped, unevenly stepped parapet walls which extend above the gable ends. The west parapet has longer steps to compensate for an extension on the west side. Decorative brick work divides the east and west facades into five bays. Originally, the bays contained multipaned windows. However, after an interior fire in 1983, the windows were bricked in and some replaced with 2-light sliders or long 4-light slider windows, placed either vertically or horizontally and often screened. Concrete sills and lintels demarcate the window openings. The central bays on the east and west facades contain entrances. Although constructed with double wooden doors, the eastern bay now has a metal overhead door and screened metal gates. Facing the fenced substation yard, the western door has been altered with concrete block used to fill in the top of the door way. Above the door is a new overdoor with a shed roof and a bricked-in window. At the south end of the western facade are openings for transmission lines, now covered with plywood. Above these openings is a small gabled hood. The north and south facades are divided into three bays, filled originally with windows. Above the bays, in the gable ends, are painted signs reading, “Weber Station Utah Power & Light Co./ ‘Efficient Public Service.'” The north side has a central metal door with a fixed 1-light window above it. A metal ladder and protective cage provide access to the roof. The concrete foundation wall on the south facade extends to the river and contains a segmental arched opening for the tailrace as well as the relief valve pipe.
The interior of the powerhouse is divided into four principal areas. The main portion of the plant, roughly comprising the eastern two-thirds of its interior space, is devoted to housing the generating machinery. This apparatus includes one reaction type turbine (built by the Pelton Water Wheel Company) attached to a 2300 volt Western Electric generator. The turbine is controlled by a hydraulic oil governor. A small 125 volt d.c. generator serves as the exciter for the main generator. A bank of modern switches and gauges is located adjacent to the turbine-generator unit. A 20-ton capacity overhead travelling crane, built by the Whiting Foundry Equipment Company, services the power generation area. This area also includes a small, modern sound-proof room for plant operators. Rated capacity of the Weber plant is 3.3 megawatts.
The other third of the interior space is taken up by three rooms: the battery room, occupying the southwest corner of the building; a work room, occupying the northwest corner; and a high-tension room between these. The high-tension room no longer contains switches, bus bars, and transformer equipment, as these apparatus are now located outside, adjacent to the west side of the powerhouse.
Although the powerhouse has sustained some alterations, such as filled-in window bays, new windows and door alterations, the building still clearly conveys its historic style and function. Because the changes do not overwhelm the structure’s original appearance and because the powerhouse retains the majority of its integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling and association, it is a contributing element of the Weber Hydroelectric Power Plant Historic District.
(2) Transformer and Transmission Apparatus
This equipment consists of steel switchrack, transformers transmission towers and poles, all of modern construction switchrack and transformers are located adjacent to the powerhouse. Transmission towers and poles are situated around the powerhouse. The transformer and tran-smission apparatus are noncontributing elements of the Weber Hydroelectric Power Plant Historic District.
(3-8) Operators’ Camp
Once providing housing for four families, the operators’ camp now has only two residences. Three brick cottages were built at the the time of the plant’s construction, but two of them have since been demolished. The remaining brick western-most cottage (no. 3) is an irregularity~shaped, brick-veneer structure with asphalt-shingled hip roofs intersecting a central gable-on-hip roof and overhanging eaves. Sitting on a concrete foundation, the house has a central, interior, brick chimney and either 6/2 or 2/2 double hung windows with concrete sills under segmental arched brick lintels. The front, southern, entrance with a segmental arched lintel has a screened 6-light door and a shed roofed overdoor supported by wooden braces. On the north side is an addition with tongue-in-groove siding, a half-hip roof, 1/1 double hung windows—single and in sets of three—and a 1-light door. A window in the west facade has been removed and replaced with a 2- light slider. Behind this house is a sidewalk and along the rock terraced highway embankment, flowers have been planted. In front of the house are trees and shrubbery. A two-sided wooden shed with an asphalt-shingled shed roof stands just west of the house. As the one window replacement is the only alteration outside the district’s period of significance, the cottage retains its historic integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling and association. This residence is a contributing element in the Weber Hydroelectric Power Plant Historic District.
A lawn with shade trees separates the brick residence and the remaining worker’s cottage. This area originally contained two brick dwellings–probably very similar to the existing brick cottage—which were removed in the mid-1970s.
Constructed in 1922, the easternmost cottage (no. 4) is a rectangular-shaped, wood-frame dwelling with an asphalt-shingled hip roof and broad overhanging eaves. Resting on a concrete foundation, the house has drop siding, a central interior brick chimney and exterior brick chimney on the north side. Most of the windows are 1/1 double hung, 2-light sliders or 3-lights in the basement but in the southeast corner are two 12-light windows forming a sunporch. The front, south, entrance has a 2-light door, concrete steps and an iron railing. On the west side is a screened door with concrete steps. A corrugated metal overdoor and a three-sided trellis protect the opening. Foliage obscures much of the south and west facades. Constructed as a single family residence, the building was at some point used as a duplex. The north facade confirms this as it contains two entrances. Both have concrete steps and iron railings but the screened east door is wood and the west opening has double 10-light French doors and double screen doors. A series of four 4-light casement windows extend along the east side of the eastern rear porch. Surrounding the south and east sides of the yard Is white picket fence. Directly across the driveway, near the river, Is a picnic area which Includes a concrete table and benches and a stone fireplace. Although this building has sustained some minor alterations outside the district’s period of significance, It retains Its historic Integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling and association and Is a contributing element In the Weber Hydroelectric Power Plant Historic District.
Near the driveway’s entrance onto Interstate 84 are a row of four outbuildings. All the one-story structures are of wood-frame construction with corrugated metal siding and roofing. Built before 1936, the eastern-most shed (no. 5) has a gable roof, 9- light fixed windows, double corrugated metal doors and a 6-light entrance in the west facade. The remaining three sheds (nos. 6,7,8) are all identical except that the western structure contains only a single garage bay while the others have two. These buildings had shed roofs, fixed 4-“light windows and corrugated metal garage doors facing north. The western one-bay garage (no. 8) was built in 1939, while the other two garages (nos. 6, 7) were constructed in 1923. Erected during the district’s period of significance and virtually unaltered, these four outbuildings retain their historic integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling and association and are all contributing structures to the Weber Hydroelectric Power Plant Historic District.
A 1936 UP&L site map of the Weber Development shows five outbuildings at the east end of the camp. It appears that a two bay garage/storage building and a 1923 barn located on the east end of the row have been removed. The 1936 map indicates that several other outbuildings on the north edge of the camp were also removed, possibly during construction of Interstate 84.
Other structures adjacent (but not actually ancillary) to the Weber hydroelectric plant include the diversion dam and trash racks of the Davis and Weber Canal Company, located just downstream from the powerhouse. These structures have no direct association with the Weber hydroelectric development.
The Weber dam is located about 1.75 miles upstream from the powerhouse. Basically, the dam is a reinforced concrete structure about 130 ft. long, including fishway, spillway, sluice gate, intake structure, and abutments. Access to the dam is provided by a road leading from a rest area for the east-bound lanes of the Interstate 84. 1-64 is situated on the north bank of the Weber River, adjacent to the dam. Hugging the south bank of the river, also adjacent to the dam, are double tracks of the Union Pacific Rail road.
The spillway portion of the dam features three massive concrete piers, each about 12 ft. tall. These three piers are evenly spaced, with one pier located mid way between the other two. Two steel tainter gates are set between the piers. The tops of the tainter gates are attached to cables, which in turn wrap around horizontal shafts mounted on top of the piers. By turning the shafts, the tainter gates are raised and lowered. The south gate is raised by a motor, but the north gate must still be raised by hand power. Crossing the tops of the piers, adjacent to the gateraising mechanisms, is a walkway consisting of steel grate resting on steel I-beams. A low chain link fence on either side of the walkway serves as a balustrade.
Situated between the north a fishway. or fish ladder. bank The integral to the dam, consisting compartments, about 3 ft. wide, of the river and the north pier is fishway is a concrete structure, of a series of stepped ascending from the downstream side of the dam and leading to the top of the dam. The fishway allows fish to move upstream or downstream past the dam without harm.
Between the south pier and the intake structure is a large wood sluice gate, which when completely lowered extends from the bottom of the dam to a height just below the top of the piers. The sluice gate is raised and lowered by a hand-powered worm gear. The sluice gate allows the reservoir behind the dam to be lowered rapid!y.
The conduit for the Weber Plant consists of two sections: the first is a 74 in. diameter reinforced concrete pipe that extends 125 ft. from the intake at the dam to a point where it connects to a welded steel pipeline which then continues to the Weber powerhouse downstream.
The Weber River Hydroelectric Power Plant Is eligible for the National Register under Criteria A, B. and C. Constructed between 1908 and 1910, the plant retains the distinguishing features of a early-twentieth century, medium-head hydroelectric development. At the turn-of-the-century, Utah’s urban centers expanded and increased the demand for municipal lighting and public transportation. Requiring more power to operate their electric urban railways and lighting systems, companies sought additional sources of hydroelectric generation. When the great railroad magnate E.H. Harriman bought Utah Light and Railway Company and began modernizing its operations, he ordered the construction of the Weber River power plant. The only remaining hydroelectric power plant built under Harriman’s authorization, the Weber River plant is significant for its association with E.H. Harriman. The Weber plant is also significant because it represents the organizational growth of the hydroelectric power industry in Utah. After the turn of the century, large electric power companies began to connect small, previously isolated power stations into widespread networks. Unlike earlier plants, Weber was built to operate as a component in an interconnected electric power system.
Between 1890 and 1910, a combination of factors led to the industrialization of Utah, especially to the urban settlements concentrated near the mouths of canyons on the west slope of the Wasatch Mountains. With industrialization came rapid urban growth which stimulated demands for the necessities of city living, such as public transportation and lighting. These urban improvements required electricity. By the 1890s, technological advancements allowed for the generation of relatively inexpensive electrical power which could be transmitted long distances. Stimulated by these improvements, power companies and entrepreneurs began acquiring hydroelectric power sites in the nearby canyons to supply electricity for electric streetcar systems, street lighting and domestic use. Numerous firms, mostly centered in Salt Lake City, Provo and Odgen, sprang up with their own power sources to compete for the urban market. By the late 1890s, the competition between the rival power companies stimulated a wave of corporate consolidations. In 1904, a second merger movement occurred, further narrowing the number of competing power companies.
One of the firms created in 1904 was the Utah Light and Railway Company (UL&RC). Formed from the merger of Utah and Light and Power and the Consolidated Railway and Power Company, UL&RC combined streetcar lines in Salt Lake City, electrical power and lighting companies, and gas lighting concerns in both Salt Lake City and Ogden. During the first year of its existence, UL&RC directors consolidated and improved the company’s electrical generating system to provide for the efficient transmission of power.
The firm also acquired the water rights for a hydroelectric station near Devil’s Gate in Weber Canyon. In the early 1900s, C.K. Bannister, an Ogden engineer involved in the construction of the Pioneer Power plant, had filed on Weber River water near Devil’s Gate. In 1900, Bannister began work on an intake structure, a preliminary step in constructing a hydroelectric plant. But, the Union Pacific Railroad, whose railroad bed lay directly adjacent the Weber River, obtained a temporary injunction against the work. Railroad officials apparently feared that a dam in the narrow canyon would harm the railroad bed. When Bannister died, his claims lapsed. Thomas D. Dee and David Eccles, who were associated with Bannister, then sold half of their interests in the site to the Utah Light and Railway Company. These two men were also in the Bonneville Power Company’s claim on the water rights but to what extent is unknown. All rights eventually transferred to E.W. Wade, trustee for the Utah Light and Railway Company and the Utah Construction Company. For several years, the construction company improved the site, expending $10,000 by 1906. Most of the work consisted of grading the south side of the river for the pipeline.
In 1906, E.H. Harriman, president of the Union Pacific Railroad Company, acquired control of Utah Light and Railway Company by purchasing sixty percent of the firm’s stock. The company name remained the same although the board of directors was reorganized and W.H. Bancroft, Harriman’s Rocky Mountain regional representative and vice-president/general manager of the Oregon Short Line, became president. With the purchase of UL&RC, Harriman hoped to create a model electric streetcar operation in Salt Lake City and took immediate steps to upgrade the system with new rails, transmission lines and equipment.
Forseeing the need for more electrical power, UL&RC’s new management built a steam plant on the Jordan River and moved to increase the capacity of the Pioneer plant by acquiring the unappropriated water in the Odgen River. This plan, however, met serious opposition as members of the public claimed that taking more water would drain the river during summer months. Company directors abandoned the idea and Harriman authorized the construction of a new hydroelectric plant at Devil’s Gate on the Weber River, rights to which he had received with UL&RC. At one time, Harriman may have hoped to electrify his railroad from Ogden to California and a plant in Weber Canyon directly adjacent to his Union Pacific line would have been advantageous to the idea.