Archival Photos Document Lower Baker River Dam Construction

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The Center for Pacific Northwest Studies is delighted to make available a collection of almost 1500 images documenting the construction of the Lower Baker River Dam north of Concrete, Washington. See here for online images.

downstream face of Lower Baker RIver Dam 1925Downstream face of the Lower Baker River Dam, December 6, 1925. (#LBDC1576)

Completed in 1925, the dam is part of the Baker River Hydroelectric Project that formed Baker Lake and Lake Shannon and which is operated by Puget Sound Energy (The Upper Baker Dam lies nine miles upstream, and was constructed in 1959).

The original photographs, transferred to CPNWS in February 2012, are well-traveled. They were shot by the superintendent of the construction project, George P. Jessup, and document the day-to-day process of construction on the dam during 1924 and 1925. Jessup and his family later moved across the United States as he worked on other engineering projects, and the collection traveled with them. The images were eventually donated by Jessup's daughter, Nancy Underwood, to the Coffee County Historical Society in Manchester, Tennesee, whose staff took steps to research and transfer the collection back to its origins: The collection was delivered first to the editor of the Concrete Herald, and then to the custody of the Concrete Heritage Museum Association.

Museum Board members pursued a successful collaboration with Puget Sound Energy (present owners of the dam), who funded a project to catalog, preserve and create digital copies of the images. Reference copies are now available for visitors to the Concrete Heritage Museum. The original images and digital copies are now housed and accessible at WWU's Center for Pacific Northwest Studies. Emma Darmody, an intern and graduate student in WWU's Archives and Records Management Program, readied content for this digital collection hosted on the ContentDM platform.

Related holdings at CPNWS include records of the Puget Sound Power and Light Company (and over 50 subsidiary and predecessor companies that pre-dated Puget Sound Energy).

CPNWS is a program of Western Libraries' Heritage Resources, and is located in the Goltz-Murray Archives Building at WWU.

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