Author's note:
All material on this website is covered by copyrite. 2019/03/21

POWERHOUSE AT STAVE FALLS

Story and Photos by

LEE A. WOOD

(Stave Lake, B.C. Log carved with name.)

2019/03/21 - Exactly thirty years ago, the first time I saw Stave Lake there was a trestle to carry traffic across the top of the dam.

On the western end of the trestle was a town with a building along the main street that had a large neon sign.

The sign said `Border Town Theatre'.

It wasn't a real theatre and it wasn't a real town.

Many people saw the sign and thought this was the set for the TV series `Bordertown`.

But, no. That set was many miles to the West.

This set was for the feature `We're No Angles'.

I played one of the prison guards

Though I was up top for some three months I never realized that there used to be another, temporary, town at the base of the dam.

BELOW THE STAVE FALLS DAM

(Stave Lake, B.C. - Asign.)
(Stave Lake, B.C. - cars in a lot.)
A PARKING LOT, WHERE BUNKHOUSES ONCE STOOD
(Stave Lake, B.C. - a ring of metal cups.)
(Stave Lake, B.C. - a sign about the cups.)
(Stave Lake, B.C. - The top of a transmission tower.)
THE TOP OF A TRANSMISSION TOWER
(Stave Lake, B.C. - sign about the transmission tower.)
(Stave Lake, B.C. - a rusty block and grapple.)
A BLOCK AND A GRAPLE FROM A YARDER
(Stave Lake, B.C. - parking lot and a bridge.)
THE BRIDGE TO THE TOWN SITE
(Stave Lake, B.C. - sign about the bridge and the town site.)
(Stave Lake, B.C. - close up of the bridge.)
THIS IS NOT THE BRIDGE ON THE SIGN
YOU CAN STILL WALK TO THE OLD TOWN SITE

Though not permanent, the little town at Stave Falls was a little more substantial than the movie set.
It was designed to house the workers, and their families, for the five years it would take to build the power station.
The name `Stave' comes from the fact that there used to be a man who lived in the area and he made staves.
Staves are used to make wooden barrels.
To see this in real life, visit the Ft. Langley museum and you will see a person making staves and barrels.

(Stave Lake, B.C. - entrance to the powerhouse.)
THE OLD POWERHOUSE WITH FIVE GENERATORS
(Stave Lake, B.C. - a sign to the powerhouse.)
YOU CAN JUST SEE THE TOP OF THE NEW POWERHOUSE
ONLY TWO GENERATORS BUT TWICE THE OUTPUT
(Osoyoos, B.C. - front of the powerhouse.)
THERE USED TO BE FIVE OF THESE ERECTOR SETS
(Stave Lake, B.C. - front of the powerhouse.)
THOUGH DECORATIVE THE SHAPES OF THE FRONT
ACTUALLY ADDED STRENGTH TO THE STRUCTURE
(Stave Lake, B.C. - Interior of foyer.)
INFORMATION, SNACK, SOUVENIRS, AND TICKETS
(Stave Lake, B.C. - Interior of foyer.)
GIFT SHOP

When you enter the Power House that is now a museum you enter the foyer where you can buy your ticket, or some snacks, and meet the curator.
Janis has been with the museum for sixteen years.
You could say she was born into the job.
Her family lived in one of the non employee houses above the dam, her father was a logger.
However her grandparents lived in the town, her grandfather helped build the dam and the power house.
As you might imagine Janis is a friendly font of information.
She might not know the diameter of Neptune but when it comes the powerhouse, ask her anything that comes to mind.

The next step on our tour is the Hayward Theatre where you get to enjoy a short film describing the site and its history.
Beyond that are many informative and interesting displays, including some scientific games for the children.

THE FIRST STEP ON OUR INTERIOR JOURNEY IS THE HAYWARD THEATRE

(Stave Lake, B.C. - Theatre interior.)
HAYWARD THEATRE
(Stave Lake, B.C. - brass sign.)

THIS ROOM CAN BE NOISY - NOTICE THE WARNING SYMBOL - WEAR HEARING PROTECTION

(Stave Lake, B.C. - aerial photo.)
HERE YOU CAN SEE THE OLD POWERHOUSE AND SPILLWAY
AND THE NEW POWERHOUSE AND SPILLWAY
(Stave Lake, B.C. - room full of displays.)
WARNING SYMBOL ON THE RIGHT
(Stave Lake, B.C. - something in a glass case.)
MANY OF THESE DISPLAYS HAVE BUTTONS FOR YOU TO PUSH
(Stave Lake, B.C. - a glass display case.)
(Stave Lake, B.C. - something in a glass case.)
CAN YOU FIGURE OUT WHAT THIS DOES?
(Stave Lake, B.C. - handson experiments.)
MANY HANDS-ON PROJECTS
FOR ENTERTAINMENT AND EDUCATION
(Stave Lake, B.C. - a rooom full of experiments.)
(Stave Lake, B.C. - an experiment in a cage.)

HISTORY HALL
ENTER THE MEZZANINE FROM THE SCIENCE EXHIBITS
OR ENTER THE MEZZANINE FROM THE FOYER
EITHER WAY GIVES YOU AN AWE INSPIRING VIEW

(Stave Lake, B.C. - aerial view of the generators.)
LOOKING DOWN ON GENERATOR HALL
(Stave Lake, B.C. - a row of gerators.)
NOTE - THE GENERATOR ON THE RIGHT HAS BEEN CUT OPEN
(Stave Lake, B.C. - generators and mezzanine.)
GENERATOR HALL
(Stave Lake, B.C. - mezzanine.)
HISTORY HALL
(Stave Lake, B.C. - powerhouse control panel.)
POWERHOUSE CONTROL PANEL
(Stave Lake, B.C. - informative sign.)
(Stave Lake, B.C. - An overhead gantry.)
BRIDGE CRANE
(Stave Lake, B.C. - informative sign.)

HISTORY HALL
GLASS CABINET DISPLAYS ALONG THE WALL
AND INFORMATIVE SIGNS ALONG THE RAILING

(Stave Lake, B.C. - view of the mezzanine.)
(Stave Lake, B.C. - informative sign.)
(Stave Lake, B.C. - informative sign.)
(Stave Lake, B.C. - informative sign.)
(Stave Lake, B.C. - informative sign.)
(Stave Lake, B.C. - photo of powerhouse surrounded by construction.)
(Stave Lake, B.C. - photo of bunkhouses.)
BUNKHOUSES WHERE THE PARKING LOT SITS TODAY
(Stave Lake, B.C. - photo of the railon the opposite side of the spillway.)
THE WORLD'S SHORTEST RAILWAY

Let's say you want to build a dam to generate electricity to feed the hungry maw of the growing towns in the Fraser Valley.
After the surveyors map out a suitable water shed and the engineers design the structure the first step is to clear out all those pesky trees.
Once you have a trail cleared it is easier to get the logs down to the sawmill.
Putting a railroad down the trial makes things even easier. (Appears to be the world's shortest railroad, about 6 Km.)
Then when you have a suitable area cleared you can start building a town and yoou can get the loggers out of their tents and into bunkhouse.
You can build houses and bring in families.
Add; a church, store, and a school.
Now while the loggers are clearing the valley where the lake will go the new workers can construct the dam and the powerhouse.

(Stave Lake, B.C. - model train in glass case.)
(Stave Lake, B.C. - informative sign about the railway.)
(Stave Lake, B.C. - photo of a man on a rock leddge above a waterfall.)
(Stave Lake, B.C. - informative sign.)

Five years later you dismantle the town except for a couple of heritage buildings, and the workers, all but a few maintenance men, move on to another project.

(Stave Lake, B.C. - informative sign.)
(Stave Lake, B.C. - informative sign.)
(Stave Lake, B.C. - diesel motor and samll generator.)
THIS IS A SMALL GENERATOR TO TICKLE THE EXCITERS.
(Stave Lake, B.C. - cut away side of large generator.)
CUTAWAYS LET US SEE THE INTERIOR

The diesel generator turns a DC generator which produces a current that will excite the electro magnets in the generators.
Without this the there is no magnetic field around the commutators.
Much like the battery in your car which excites the tickler in the car's alternator.
If you have ever tried to jump start a car and it won't fire that is because there is no juice in the car's battery.
You have to charge the battery for a few minutes to give it enough charge to excite the tickler to magnetize the magnets surrounding the commuter in your alternator.

(Stave Lake, B.C. - Glass displaycase with old hydro meters.)
(Stave Lake, B.C. - an old up right radio.)
I RECALL A SIMILAR ONE IN MY HOME WHEN I WAS A CHILD

DAM AND PENSTOCKS

(Stave Lake, B.C. - C.)
(Stave Lake, B.C. - room full of displays.)
THE TWO PENSTOCKS FOR THE EXCITERS
(Stave Lake, B.C. - something in a glass case.)
FOUR PENSTOCKS FOR THE ORIGINAL GENERATORS
(Stave Lake, B.C. - a glass display case.)
THE PENSTOCK FOR THE FIFTH GENERATOR
HAD TO BE PUSHED THROUGH SOLID ROCK

GENERATOR FLOOR

(Stave Lake, B.C. - closeup of generators.)
THOUSANDS OF PARTS
ALL HAD TO BE CONNECTED, ON SITE
ONE HUGE MECCANO SET
(Stave Lake, B.C. - holes cut in side of a generator.)
A SWISS MADE GENERATOR OPENED FOR YOUR VIEWING
(Stave Lake, B.C. - close up of an exciter.)
AN EXCITER
(Stave Lake, B.C. - an exciter cut open.)
OPENED, AND GLASS ENCASED, FOR YOUR VIEWING

TAILRACE DECK

(Stave Lake, B.C. - Patio with chairs and tables.)
(Stave Lake, B.C. - transmission tower on end of patio.)
(Stave Lake, B.C. - water and boat)
(Stave Lake, B.C. - 310.)
(Stave Lake, B.C. - the old tailracd.)
THE OLD TAILRACE
(Stave Lake, B.C. - boat on water.)
NOT QUITE ON A EVEN KEEL
THE MV SHIRLEY SITS ON THE BOTTOM WHEN THE WATER LEVEL IS LOW
(Stave Lake, B.C. - curving gravel path amongst trees.)
RAILWAY TRAIL
(Stave Lake, B.C. - buildings in the park.)

END

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