TBT: Opening Day at Iron Gate 1962

cover image: Opening Day at Iron Gate, February 3, 1962
(Source: PacifiCorp Archive, Iron Gate Development Neg IG-264).

The final component of the Klamath Hydroelectric Project, both in terms of construction and, geographically, within the flow of water, is the Iron Gate project. Begun in 1960, it was completed and put into service on January 13, 1962. Just as at Big Bend, the name and location of Iron Gate were first identified in 1911 as part of the very first surveys of the hydroelectric potential of the Klamath River. With its construction, the development of electric generation facilities in the Klamath Basin, begun in the early 1890s, was at an end. 1

Dedication of Iron Gate Dam, February 3, 1962 (Source: PacifiCorp Archive, Big Bend Photographs Vol.8, Neg # BB 1023)

The Iron Gate Dam and Powerhouse, the last of the Klamath River projects both in date of construction and flow of the water, was initiated in 1956 when Copco filed an application for water use with the State of California. In January 1960 FERC approved the company’s license application and construction began almost immediately. The facilities were completed and put into service in 1962. Although not built for a halfcentury, Iron Gate was originally conceived and surveyed as a part of the company’s investigations of the Klamath River prior to WWII.

Back in the late 1920s and early 1930s, California Oregon Power Company
made complete engineering surveys of [the] Iron Gate site, a narrow
volcanic gorge on the Klamath River, some 8 miles easterly of Hornbrook”

(Rippon. 1986:1-ig).

Iron Gate Dam is an earth-fill structure with a compacted clay core and concrete spillway. The dam, 173 feet high and 685 feet long was built by the Morrison-Knudsen Company The outdoor type powerhouse is located at the dam’s base and produces 18,000kW. The dedication ceremony of the project, occurring a year after Copco was merged with Pacific Power and Light, was held on February 3, 1962, two days after commercial operations at the facility were started.

The Klamath Hydroelectric Project should be considered eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, subject to individual evaluation of sufficient integrity to relate that association effectively. “Multiple Property Submission” documentation is recommended as the appropriate format.

  1. Additional development sites identified by SEP&L and other Copco-predecessors also included the so-called Salt Caves Project, a controversial and still unbuilt development site near Klamath Falls. ↩︎

Read about COPCOLAND below ⬇️

One Comment

  1. Emanuel galea

    Sad, we moved up to irongate in the summer of 69 lots memories all lost now… you wanna help the salmon stop all the international fishing off our coast not destroy a dam “it’s dam shame what the worlds come too”

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