5 Things to Explore at the Skagit Hydroelectric Project

Summer is in full swing here in the Pacific Northwest with the fall season peeking over the horizon. Before we know it, school will be back in session, leaves will start to change colors and the days will begin to get shorter. Now is the time to plan that one last road trip before Labor Day. City Light’s Skagit Hydroelectric Project is just a 2.5-hour drive from Seattle and offers fantastic views and stops along the way! Nestled in North Cascades National Park, Skagit offers majestic mountain views, emerald waters and a rich history of providing clean energy to the Puget Sound. Here are a few of our favorite must-dos!

1) Explore the wares at the Skagit County General Store

Since 1922, the Skagit General Store has provided provisions for City Light employees and, more recently, road warriors alike. Today, employees and visitors alike can purchase milk, soda, and snacks, plus camping and picnic supplies. The store is especially known for its delicious homemade fudge! While they do offer samples, you’ll probably leave with a pound…or two.
(While you’re in Newhalem, be sure to get a selfie with Old Engine 6, the decommissioned train engine on the side of Highway 20!)

 

2) Feel the refreshing spray of water on Lake Diablo

Hop aboard the Alice Ross IV (named after the wife of City Light’s first superintendent, J.D. Ross) and set out on a tour of Diablo Lake. Experience parts of the lake that are typically hidden from view when traveling by highway or hiking on trails. Your tour will come alive with stories about the early explorers and settlers in the area and the challenges of dams and powerhouses in a very remote location. Skagit Tours offers lunch and afternoon tours. Between the almost-ethereal emerald waters and breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, it will be a trip you will not soon forget.
Click here to register for a lake tour!

3) Climb around Ladder Creek Falls

Next to the Gorge Powerhouse flows the Ladder Creek Falls. A flight of stairs brings you close to the falls surging through imposing rock formations.
J.D. Ross envisioned and treated the Skagit Project as a theme park, and remnants of that vision are still visible to this day, specifically: the illuminated falls. At night, the falls come alive with color that change by the minute. The best way to experience falls is following Skagit Tours’ renowned Dam Good Chicken Dinner*, a meal that has been enjoyed for decades. It’s a Skagit Project essential!
*A vegetarian option is also available.  

4) Sign up for a class at the North Cascades Institute

The North Cascades Environmental Learning Center’s mission is to inspire and empower environmental stewardship for all through transformative educational experiences in nature. This beautiful facility was constructed with support from City Light and is operated by the North Cascades Institute. NCI offers classes that range in age range, duration and interest.
Click here to learn more!

5) Drive (or walk!) across Diablo Dam

Last, but certainly not least, the views from Diablo Dam are not to be missed on your excursion in Skagit. Just off of Highway 20, Diablo Dam provides a 360° view of mountains and Lake Diablo. Stick around and take a lake tour or venture out one of the many trails in the area.

These are just a few of our favorite things to explore in the area. Now it’s time for you to make your own must-do Skagit Project list! Learn more about the variety of tours offered through Skagit Tours. We’re confident you’ll find a tour that will pique your interest! But book soon! Most tours run through September and space is limited.

Click here to get started. See you soon in Skagit!

 

❄️Winter Wonderland at City Light’s Hydroelectric Projects❄️

It’s that time of the year in Seattle. You know, when dreary clouds outstay their welcome and cold rain reliably pelts your face every time you venture outdoors.

While our facilities in Seattle have stayed soggy for most of the season, our other facilities are dealing with a different (and some would argue more pleasant) kind of precipitation: snow! Our hydroelectric projects in the North Cascades and in northeastern Washington have had enough snow to make Jack Frost jealous.

City Light employees from across the state sent us these frosty photos to show what the weather is like in their neck of the woods. Grab a cup of hot cocoa, wrap up in your favorite blanket and browse through these delightful snowscapes.

A special thanks to all of those who submitted photos!

❄️Winter Wonderland at City Light’s Hydroelectric Projects❄️

It’s that time of the year in Seattle. You know, when dreary clouds outstay their welcome and cold rain reliably pelts your face every time you venture outdoors.

While our facilities in Seattle have stayed soggy for most of the season, our other facilities are dealing with a different (and some would argue more pleasant) kind of precipitation: snow! Our hydroelectric projects in the North Cascades and in northeastern Washington have had enough snow to make Jack Frost jealous.

City Light employees from across the state sent us these frosty photos to show what the weather is like in their neck of the woods. Grab a cup of hot cocoa, wrap up in your favorite blanket and browse through these delightful snowscapes.

A special thanks to all of those who submitted photos!

City Light Completes Repairs on Newhalem Penstock

A Seattle City Light contractor recently completed a year long project at the Skagit Hydroelectric Project to replace 52 deteriorating, wooden saddles that support the Newhalem Penstock. The old wooden saddles were replaced with new, cast-in-place concrete saddles that will provide structural support so that the penstock will not collapse.

Original wooden saddles (left image) that support the Newhalem Penstock were replaced with new, concrete saddles (right image).

The Newhalem Penstock is located on the south bank of the Skagit River, in the town of Newhalem, WA. The project is within the Ross Lake National Recreation Area, which is part of the North Cascades National Park Complex.

The penstock is a pipe that provides water from the creek to the hydro turbines that are located inside the historical Newhalem Powerhouse. The water turns the turbines, which produces electricity for City Light.

Seattle City Light thanks all campground visitors for their patience during the successful completion of this project.

Learn about this project and others by visiting Seattle City Light’s “At Work in Your Neighborhood” website.

Seattle City (spot)Light: Al Ferrara

Al Ferrara has served City Light the past three years as the Maintenance Manager at the utility’s Skagit Project. Hailing from Rochester in upstate New York, Al’s been an electrician most of his career. Ask him what he misses most about his hometown and he’ll quickly mention the food and the diversity. “New York is huge melting pot,” he said.

Al is also a proud father of four daughters. Since moving to Washington, he and his wife have become empty-nesters and spend their extra time wine tasting, exploring the PNW and cooking. “I love cooking pizzas,” he said. “My grill goes up to 1,000 degrees so I can cook a pie in minutes.” In this week’s (spot)Light, we chat with Al about life in Skagit and his role at the utility.

Al volunteers with the Whatcom Sheriff’s department (and, yes, he had to pass the Police Academy!)

“Part of my job is to work closely with the many country stakeholders like law enforcement, community leaders and the National Park Services. Because we’re so close to the Canadian border, we also deal with a ton of agencies, from homeland security and state patrol to Whatcom County and the Border Patrol. At Skagit, I oversee the warehouse, trades, grounds, General Store and Skagit Tours. A recent project we worked on is the bridge at Ladder Creek Falls. Our trade professionals hand-cut that bridge from cedar. The crews, the laborers, the carpenters, the right of ways…everyone worked hand in hand on that. It was a great project for us.”

“One of the perks to living here is dining at The Gorge Inn. I don’t eat there all the time, but when I do, it’s always a treat. They recently served an elk dish that was phenomenal. The Dam Good Chicken dinner is out of this world. The homemade desserts are incredible. I’ve never been too much of a pie person until I came here and tasted Washington state berries. Having our master chefs bake them in a pie has just been delightful.”

“The greatest ‘A-ha!’ for me in coming to work at City Light is the utility’s environmental impact. It’s something for which I’m very thankful—that the organization dedicates an entire division to the environment. At times, we’ll deal with things like invasive species. When that happens, our team will come in, mitigate and fix it. It’s just amazing and I get excited knowing I’m part of that team. We should be smiling about the work that we do.”

“There are great people at City Light. I try to help and mentor our employees. The piece of advice I always give is to enroll in a degree program so that when they’re done with their apprenticeship, they have that piece of paper as well. I went back to school at age 48. It was a big feat, but thank goodness I had my daughters to teach me study habits!”