The Olmsted Power Plant, a historic structure, was constructed in 1904 by a predecessor to Rocky Mountain Power and is still in use today. The plant generates power from water diverted from the Provo River. During the last 100 years, water has reached the plant by both wooden flume and steel pipeline.
In 1830 Michael Faraday of England discovered that when a coil of wire was moved near a magnet, the magnet induced a current of electricity in the wire. Faraday’s experiments resulted in the dynamo which generates electricity.
Anxious to capitalize on this exciting new power source, investors throughout the world began to develop and build these dynamo machines.
Installation of the electric lines began which would transform the world from a labor-intensive planet to one in which electrical energy could multiply the efforts of people by thousands of times.
One of the early leaders in that effort in the United States was the Telluride Power Company. They selected a site at 1600 East 800 North, alongside the Provo River, to build one of the first power plants in America. Their Olmsted Power Plant became operational in 1904, supplying surrounding areas up to fifty miles away with electric power.
One of the unique features of the Olmsted Power Plant was that it used some of the most knowledgeable engineers in the country to establish on-the-job training programs for its employees. At the time, Olmsted offered one of only two competent training programs in electrical engineering in the entire United States, with the other one offered at Ohio State University. In 1912, with less than 1,000 residents living on the Orem Bench, poles were erected to carry electric wires which were supplied with power generated at the Olmsted Power Plant.
Also in 1912, Utah Power and Light Company purchased the Telluride Power Company, which included the Olmsted Power Plant. This plant is still a fully-operational power plant. Also on the property are a few Craftsman-style residences, the 1937 “Home of Ideas” (a model home built to showcase the future of electricity use), and a large building constructed for educational use.