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Illecillewaet Dam


Illecillewaet Dam
Completed: 1898, dismantled 1985
Operator: City of Revelstoke
Type: Run of the River gravity dam


Built by the Revelstoke Light & Power Company in 1898 on the Illecillewaet River and bought by the City of Revelstoke in 1902, this dam supplied the City with power for street lights and house lighting. The system underwent a few major extensions during its lifetime. The original dam was a log crib structure that diverted water into a 8 foot square wooden flume to a wooden frame powerhouse. The turbine was connected to two 120-kW generators.

The dam was susceptible to ice build up during the winter months so a 300 horsepower gas generator was added to the supply network to supplement the power needs of the area. In 1909 a concrete dam was built 160 feet down river and a 900 horsepower Francis type turbine was installed in a new brick powerhouse. There was also a new round 1.8 metre (6 ft) diameter, 427 metre (1400 ft) long wood stave pipe built to replace the old square pipe.

In 1915 a second unit was installed and increased the output of the powerhouse by 1200 horsepower (894 kW). The gas engine generator was then removed along with the old wooden powerhouse. An increase in population and demand led in 1925 to the installation of a 600 horsepower diesel generator in the centre of the town.

After WWII, rapid growth again demanded new supplies of power quickly so two additional diesel units were installed in the standby station in the centre of town. By the late 1950s the demand had grown large enough to consider building a new hydroelectric plant to supply the town and surrounding area. Once the Walter Hardman Dam on Cranberry Creek south of Revelstoke was complete, the Illecillewaet Dam was taken off line.

In 1985 the dam was decommissioned and the significant log and debris build up was burnt and cleared away. After the removal of the dam the upstream bed load material swept downstream and elevated the riverbed and caused flooding and other water issues for downstream residents.

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