Kemano- Powerhouse

Kemano, British Columbia, Canada

The Control Room and Powerhouse is built 427 M (1,400 ft)(1/4 mi) inside the base of 8500 ft, Mt. Dubose, in a blasted out granite cavern.
Built in the shape of an arched vault, for strength
700ft long, and 120 ft high, similar to an old Cathedral shape inside, future plans to hold a total of 16 generators.
(another source says cavern was 145 ft high, 85 ft wide, and 712 ft long)

All I know, when you are standing in the Powerhouse, next to one of the generators, the size of this area, carved out of granite, is hard to fathom. It is impressive!
A tunnel from the Townsite of Kemano, at 200ft above sea level, leads inside the mountain.

This is a great photo taken by Bud Walker showing the very beginning of the tunnel being blasted into Mt. DuBose, for the Kemano Powerhouse.
The Powerhouse Portal below, was built at this spot. If you look closely, you can see the Euclid Trucks, used to haul the rock away from inside.

Portal located at 53 deg 33 min 47.43 sec N- 127 deg, 56 min 33.78 sec W

May 13, 1954 Access Portal under construction

Picture sent by Grant Walker Mar 31, 2016

Completed Kemano Portal, leading to the tunnel, which leads to the Powerhouse, all behind those big grey-white doors.

Photo from inside Company Christmas Card shows 2 of the Generators

Found a picture that says they were equipped with “Canadian Westinghouse Rotors”.

Taken by Bud Walker in the tunnel leading to the Powerhouse
They held a Open House for families, that never had the opportunity, to get inside before this.

Views of drilling out for the Powerhouse, International TD24 on left in both pictures

3 Photos showing the construction of the Powerhouse.
It was blasted out from the roof down.

Top Photo-Drilling work on the Penstock Tunnels
they were on a 42 deg angle, pretty tough working conditions!
Bottom photo- Access tunnel from Camp 5, to the Powerhouse, inside the mountain

This is a scanned copy of a large picture negative (2.25 in x 2.25 in)
taken by an old box type camera, it is a color picture, and needs to be printed to fully enjoy it.

Camp 5, was located in this location
The whole area was controlled by the construction company of Morrison-Knudson from Boise Idaho.
Alcan contracted them to build the tunnel, and powerhouse.

The plant produces 896 MW of power, 1,200,000 HP, from its eight generators,
each of which has a capacity of 112MW.
A 16km horseshoe shaped Tunnel 25 ft wide, the width of a 2 lane highway, from the 6.5 billion gallon, Nechako reservoir,
created by building the 324 ft high, Kenney Dam, takes the water 800 vertical meters, to the Generator turbines.
It took 20 months to build this 10 mi tunnel for the water.

2- 2500ft head steel penstocks, each 4450 ft in length, were built in the mountain. The 11ft diam. penstock,
powers BLH Pelton Impulse turbines, built by Baldwin Lima Hamilton, (note 1) in Pennsylvania, USA.,
The turbines turn at 327.5 rpm.
Referred to as a Hydraulic Penstock design.
First Generator went into operation July 9, 1954, followed closely by units 2 and 3.
By 1967, 8 units were in operation.

Note 1- In 1951 Lima Hamilton, merged with Baldwin Locomotive works, to form BLH.

These were the largest multi nozzle turbines at the time.
Vertical, single runner, 4 nozzle types, designed for 150,000 hp.
they drive directly, 3 phase, 60 cycle, 13,800 volt generators, rated at 122,000 kva
The power then feeds a bank of 3, Single Phase 89,000 kva transformers.
A 300,000 volt, 4in diameter power cable with 60lbs / sq in. oil pressure, carries the power 2,000 ft to the surface switchyard.

Early view of Access Tunnel to Powerhouse

From a color slide

Another scanned color negative, this time the Tailrace Tunnel, and Spillway

Dec 28, 1953- Inside Tailrace Tunnel Section

Nov 14, 1953- Taking Micrometer readings to center Unit 1

Dec 24, 1953- Removing Stator from Packing, with 225 ton Crane

Dec 7, 1953- pouring concrete for the transformer roof

Attaching Shoe to Sole Plate

Apr 30, 1954- welding 13.9 KV Aluminum Bus Bars

Battery Room for Emergency Lighting and Protective Gear- Apr 30, 1954

Apr 10, 1954- Control Room Construction

Thomas Raymond “Bud” Walker, 2nd man from left, others unknown

Albert (Al) James Brown Family in front of the unfinished Access Tunnel to the Powerhouse
l/r- Lois his wife, Al, 2 Brown sons, Dave Brown and Chris Brown. Ayce Walker, rest unknown

Early Excavation picture, of the Kemano Powerhouse

Photos courtesy Grant Walker


  • Last modified: 2018/02/20 17:10
  • by dlgent