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Granby Dam


Granby Dam
Completed: 1899, dismantled 1947
Operator: Granby Mining and Smelting Co., City of Grand Forks
Type: Water storage dam


In Grand Forks electricity first came from steam. A contract was signed between the city of Grand Forks and a Rossland contractor by the name of W.B. Davey on November 6, 1897 for construction of a water system and electric plant. The city was electrified by May of 1898 by a steam boiler.

With the construction of the Granby Mining and Smelting Co. smelter, a dam was built to supply it with hydroelectric power. Built on the North Fork of the Kettle River (also known as the Granby River) the dam was built in the gorge created by the river just north of the city. It was 53 metres (175 feet) across and 22.86 metres (75 feet) wide at the base and built of 12 by 12 inch timbers and filled with rock and gravel. The dam backed up water and formed what was known as Smelter Lake. The water was carried to the powerhouse by flume which created a head of 13.7 metres (45 feet) and was over one kilometre (1 mile) long. Three turbines were installed - each brought through town pulled by a team of 12 horses creating quite a stir. The turbines were connected to the flume by 1.2 metre (4 feet), 17.78 cm (7 inch) steel intake pipes. A fourth water wheel was installed to supply waterpower for grinding the slag at the smelter. The dam and powerhouse were in operation by 1900. The city of Grand Forks began to purchase electricity from the Granby Dam by September of the same year. By 1902, demand was high enough for electricity that the Granby Smelter was contracting the Cascade Water, Power and Light Co. for surplus power. Soon the demand outgrew the supply again and a transmission line was constructed from the Kootenay River dams owned by West Kootenay Power and Light to the Boundary region. By the summer of 1906, electricity was supplied to the Boundary from the Lower Bonnington (No. 1) Plant. This was done through the South Kootenay Water Power Company to avoid legal issues official charters and competition with the already established Cascade Water, Power and Light Co. The Cascade Water, Power and Light Co. was bought by West Kootenay Power in 1917.

The smelter closed following the shut down of the Phoenix mines in 1919 and the dam and water rights were purchased by the City of Grand Forks in 1926. Construction of a new powerhouse and generating system began in a rush to beat the deadline of May 6, the day West Kootenay Power was set to cut off electricity to the city. Emergency generators were brought in and the dam on the Granby was operating by the end of July 1932. Low water levels continued to haunt the operations and by 1938 West Kootenay Power was again supplying power to the city. The dam was deemed beyond repair in 1946 and was removed the winter of 1947-48. Smelter Lake was drained only to be filled again in the spring of 1948 high waters until the log jam created at the old dam site broke through and flooded the city.

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Granby Dam
Granby Dam

Smelter Dam and CPR Bridge
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