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[graphic]Ashland Municipal Powerhouse
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[photograph] Ashland Municipal Powerhouse
Photograph by Terry Skibby

A Bungalow style building, the oldest municipal powerhouse in Oregon was built in 1909 and represents the long struggle between the city and a private power company to control hydroelectric power service to the community. In 1889, two years after railroads joined north and south rails, Ashland became the first Jackson County town to have electric power. It also pioneered in power production by building the Ashland Municipal Powerhouse. At first, power was provided by a private company. Then in 1908, the city council engaged Portland engineer Frank C. Kelsey to survey Ashland Canyon to estimate its power capacity and work was begun, but not without controversy because the private operator brought an injunction suit against the city to halt construction.

[photograph] Historic image of the Ashland Municipal Powerhouse, from 1909
Courtesy of The Terry Skibby Collection

Several years of struggle between municipal and private sources ensued, with the city continuing to buy California electricity. A second phase of development in the canyon began in 1928 when Hosler Dam was constructed about 4000 feet upstream and Reeder Reservoir, a new water impoundment facility, also was built. Power generation was suspended for three years in 1968, but before scrapping the project, studies on restoring the plant indicated its feasibility; restoration was completed in 1985. Ashland is now one of two cities in Oregon that generates its own power. Standing on its original site, the powerhouse is significant as tangible evidence of the relentless effort of Ashland's city government to eliminate its major competitor and control power generation and distribution.

The Ashland Municipal Powerhouse located at 1400 Granite St. (Ashland Canyon), is not open to the public.

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