(Photo courtesy the Arrow Lakes Historical Society)

(Photo courtesy the Arrow Lakes Historical Society)

A Kootenay moment in time

Looking at the history of dams in the West Kootenay

A group of miners pose for a portrait during construction of the tunnel connecting the Whatshan Dam to the Whatshan hydroelectric station on Lower Arrow Lake north of Needles.

Tunnel construction by the B.C. Power Commission began in May 1948 and was completed March 21, 1951.

The structure is a concrete hydroelectric dam on the Whatshan River. The Whatshan powerhouse has undergone three major transformations since 1951 when it was first built by commission to provide electricity to the Okanagan and the Upper Arrow Lakes in 1951.

In 1953 the powerhouse was destroyed after a rock and mud slide roared down the mountainside.

The powerhouse was rebuilt soon after only to have to be rebuilt again a few metres higher to avoid being flooded after the completion of the Hugh Keenleyside Dam in 1968.

The replacement 54MW powerhouse completed in 1972 is at the end of a 3.4 kilometre long tunnel and is located on the western side of Upper Arrow Lake in the Monashee Mountains.

It is owned and operated by BC Hydro.


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Columbia BasinLocal History