La Grande

Alder Dam Powerhouse 1912

La Grande Powerhouse
La Grande Powerhouse

Drive up to La Grande and you can’t miss the Alder Dam, built in the 1940s. But there was another dam before this one — smaller and built in the 1910.

“The water was forced through a pipe bridge that carried the water across the valley and then down four large pipes (5 feet wide) to a powerhouse 410 feet blow.

Inside the powerhouse the four sets of Allis-Chalmers turbines and generators each produced 8,000 horsepower.”  (Per Upper Nisqually Valley)

Photos courtesy Rich Williams

Click on photo to Enlarge.

Tram to La Grande Powerhouse
Tram to La Grande Powerhouse

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transformers inside La Grande Powerhouse

Transformers inside La Grande Powerhouse

 

 

Nitrogen Plant at La Grande

Nitrogen Plant at La Grande
Nitrogen Plant at La Grande

In the early 1900s, the American Nitrogen Products Company built a large plant on the rail line — on the north side of La Grande — to produce nitrate of soda crystals.

Although I don’t know who American Nitrogen Products Company’s customers were, sodium nitrate is used in making potassium nitrate, fertilizers, and explosives.

The building has since burned down, but it was impressive in its day.

In front of the plant are the futuristic La Grande homes, with no chimneys because they were lit and heated with electricity.

Photo courtesy of Rich Williams.

Click on photo to enlarge.

Canyon Road in the 1920s

Road through La Grande - Canyon
Road through La Grande - Canyon

I just drove down Canyon Road yesterday. It’s loaded with twists and turns and I take it whenever I can just for that reason.

Just found this picture (courtesy Rich Williams) of the road back in the 1920s. Looks a bit more hazardous.

Click to enlarge.

Last Letter from La Grande?

La Grande store & post office
La Grande store & post office

There’s word that the La Grande post office may be closing. If so, it will be an end of an era.

The post office has been in operation since it opened in 1910 — back when Taft was in office and people were singing “Let Me Call you Sweetheart”.

History behind the store
It was built as a store and post office when the Tacoma hydro-electric plant was built between 1910 and 1912, costing a $2,354,984 ($58,780,00 in today’s dollars). The new plant could produce 6,000 kilowatts, which was enough to meet the entire city’s needs.

La Grande Post Office
La Grande Post Office

The La Grande store and post office serviced the homes built in La Grande to house the workers. Some of these homes were definitely ahead of their time. They stood out because they had no chimneys—they were powered and heated solely by electricity  by Tacoma Power and Light.

Post masters
The little post office changed hands frequently. “Fred Hodgins, one of the early settlers, had the store and post office. He died suddenly and his brave little wife, Opal, carried on until she sold out to Floyd Gilbert, who took charge of the store and wife Helen was appointed postmaster in 1939.” History of Tacoma Eastern Area

John A. Nordstrom has been postmaster since 1988.

 

La Grande’s Futuristic Homes of 1912

House in La Grande, 1912 (#1)
House in La Grande, 1912 (#1)

Around 1909 the City of Tacoma decided to build a hydro-electric plant in La Grande. They built it between 1910 and 1912 and it cost $58,780,00 ($2,354,984 in today’s dollars). The new plant could produce 6,000 kilowatts, which was enough to meet the entire city’s needs.

Besides the plant, a number of homes built at La Grande for the workers at the plant. There were something to behold in 1912 because they had no chimneys. They were heated and lighted from the Tacoma Power and Light. (Per History of Tacoma Eastern Area).

In fact, La Grande became known in Ripley’s Believe It or Not as the ”town without a chimney.” (Per David Smith).

It’s amazing how modern the homes look by 2011 standards. Unfortunately, none of the homes remain standing today.

Photos courtesy of Rich Williams.

Click to enlarge.

 

 

 

 

 

LaGrande, Washington homes 1912 (no chimneys)
LaGrande, Washington homes 1912 (no chimneys)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

La Grande, Town without a Chimney
La Grande, Town without a Chimney

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canyada Lodge in La Grande

Canyada Lodge being built
Canyada Lodge being built

The Canyada Lodge, in La Grande, was designed by Heath and Gove and opened around 1912. John L. McMurray — a Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney — built the lodge or $92,500.

(This first picture, courtesy of Rich Williams, show it during construction. And I think those are goats on the hillside.)

Visitors on their way to Mount Rainier to could stop, enough the sights, which included the new dam. The lodge, had a short life and burned down in March 1927.

Canyada Lodge during construction
Canyada Lodge during construction

(Second picture, courtesy of Rich Williams, is also during the construction of the Lodge. The next photo, courtesy Pat Van Eaton, is a postcard to promote the elaborate getaway)

A lodge was rebuilt in 1931 by E.J. Leak, although not a elaborate as the first and in a different location closer to the highway. It too had a short live and burned in 1966. The site now houses a private residence.

Canyada post card
Canyada post card

(The next two photos are postcards of the lodge (Courtesy Rich Williams and Jeff Morrison.)

(Last, is the photo of the newer lodge, built in 1931. Photo courtesy of Pat Van Eaton, was taken in 1937.)

 

 

 

Post Card of Canyada Lodge
Post Card of Canyada Lodge

 

Canyada Lodge in 1937
Canyada Lodge in 1937

Upper Nisqually Valley

Upper Nisqually Valley
Upper Nisqually Valley, by Donald Johnstone

This is a fabulous new book, available for purchase mid April, 2011.

Donald Johnstone takes us on a trip through time, looking at those small towns in the upper Nisqually valley. The pictures alone make the book worth checking out.

You can purchase the book for about $22.00  from a variety of outlets:

Amazon
Kirk’s Pharmacy
• Ashford Creek Pottery and Gifts

* Elbe Depot
* Through the Eatonville Historical Society