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!

 

City Light Project Earns Seattle U Engineering Team National Award

In 2016-2017, a project team of four of Seattle University students took on an engineering challenge from Seattle City Light to determine the capacity of the Ross Dam Intake Access Bridge at the Skagit Hydroelectric Project, an essential structure to conduct maintenance operations at Ross Dam. Last month, Seattle U was selected as one of this year’s National Council of Examiners for Engineering Surveying (NCEES) Engineering Education Award recipients for their work.

The project team: Front Row L-R: Chris Belson, Yashar Zafari, Delton Oki (students)
Second Row L-R: James Esteban (student), Josh Pugh Ph.D., PE (faculty advisor)
Third Row: Dan O’Sullivan (City Light)

 

The Seattle U Engineering Design Team was tasked by City Light to determine the current capacity of the bridge as well as to design an economical solution to strengthen the bridge to safely carry the types of vehicles typically needed by City Light to conduct maintenance, such as a large crane. The team of civil engineering seniors and their faculty advisor Dr. Joshua Pugh met and collaborated with City Light’s Dan O’ Sullivan and Dave Rowan throughout the academic year to determine possible engineered solutions to address the issues with the bridge. The students then presented the solutions to City Light for consideration.

“The year-long project with City Light is an excellent opportunity for Civil Engineering seniors to work on a real-life project under the mentorship of City Light engineers,” explains Dr. Nirmala Gnanapragasam, associate professor at Seattle University’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “The City Light engineers help the students learn how to apply the technical knowledge gained through coursework to analyze the problem and develop a solution while developing important professional skills before entering the engineering workforce. The engineers from City Light, specifically Robert Cochran, Owen Kohashi and Dan O’Sullivan, who sadly passed away, have been dedicated mentors to our students and have developed strong relationships with our civil engineering faculty.”

Another project team from SU was also recognized by NCEES for the design of a culvert replacement in Snohomish County making it fish passable. Click here to learn more about Seattle University’s NCEES awards.

 

 

 

Newhalem-Diablo Fire Brigade Rolls Out New Ambulance

What has four wheels, a hydraulic lift, snow chains that engage with the flip of a switch and is covered in red? If you guessed Newhalem-Diablo Fire Brigade’s new state-of-the-art ambulance, you’re correct! For the first time in nearly 25 years, the brigade will have a new unit to respond to emergencies at the Skagit Project and the surrounding community.

The ambulance was custom made to meet the unique needs of the mostly-volunteer brigade. City Light’s Rick Haggard and Levi Clark worked closely with the team to ensure that the ambulance was ready for almost any situation, from bumps and bruises within the project to emergencies on the North Cascades Highway.

Safety was also a top priority for the team. With four-point harnesses, a stretcher mount that can sustain 20Gs of force and airbags that protect the first responders, this vehicle takes care of both the responder and the patient.

“This is a unique vehicle in our fleet of over 1,000 pieces of equipment,” explains Rick Haggard, fleet manager in Fleet and Mobile Equipment. “It was a refreshing and rewarding project working as a team to accomplish the ambulance design and final delivery. The fleet office takes great pride in delivering the safest equipment possible to all City Light employees.”

This week, the ambulance will make its way to the Skagit Hydroelectric Project. The brigade will have an operator training and will report for duty the following week.