Cushman Dam Photograph Collection, 1924-1926  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Cushman Dam Photograph Collection
1924-1926 (inclusive)
25 photographic prints (1 box)
Collection Number
Photographs of the construction of Cushman Dam No. 1 on the Skokomish River, Washington
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
Box 352900
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 206-543-1929
Fax: 206-543-1931
Access Restrictions

Collection is open to the public.

Funding for encoding this finding aid was partially provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Historical BackgroundReturn to Top

Tacoma Public Utilities established its municipally owned electricity service in 1893, when it purchased the privately owned Tacoma Light and Power Co. By the beginning of the 20th century, the utilities district had begun looking to build new sources of power generation. Tacoma Power, a division of Tacoma Public Utilities, completed construction of its first dam, the LaGrande Powerhouse on the Nisqually River, in 1912. The Cushman project began in1919 in response to the demand for more power that followed the economic and housing expansion after WWI. Under the direction of Ira S. Davisson (commissioner, 1918-1940), Tacoma Power built Cushman Dam No. 1 to provide hydroelectric power to the city of Tacoma. Construction began in 1924 near Potlatch on the North Fork of the Skokomish River, Washington. At times the construction project employeed as many as five hundred men.

Using a "concrete arch" and "gravity and embankment" design, the structure consists of ninety thousand cubic yards of concrete, with a top width of eight feet and a base width of 50 feet, at 275 feet high and 1,111 feet long. Lake Cushman sits behind the dam, with 23 miles of shoreline. The design diverts water through a pipe connecting the reservoir to a powerhouse on Hood Canal. Hydroelectric power travels on a forty-mile transmission line, which includes a suspension across the Tacoma Narrows strait in Puget Sound, spanning 6,244 feet of water.

Cushman Dam No. 1 was activated on March 23, 1926, with the push of a button by President Calvin Coolidge in a ceremony at the White House. A second, smaller dam, Cushman Dam No. 2, was completed by December 1930.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The collection consists of documentation of the Cushman Dam and Cushman Power Plant construction project, including land excavation, sluicing, construction of tunnels, and concrete pouring.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top


Container(s) Description Dates
Folder item
1 1 Construction of wooden structure along embankment July 7, 1924
1 2  Men in partly constructed tunnel with pheumatic concrete placer used in construction Aug. 4, 1924
1 3 Workers in partially constructed tunnel Aug. 13, 1924
1 4 Construction pit with crane and workers behind scaffolded wall of dam Sept. 1, 1924
1 5 Flood of construction site Oct. 25, 1924
2 6 Workers sluicing spillway site among uprooted trees Jan. 30, 1925
2 7 Man standing on log over trench Mar. 5, 1925
2 8 Metal cylinders within dam structure ("draft tube and pit liner") Aug. 1, 1925
2 9 Men standing in partially constructed tunnel, indicating forms and reinforcements in construction process Aug. 7, 1925
2 10  Men overlooking plate steel scroll case at Cushman powerhouse Aug. 18, 1925
3 11   Cushman Dam construction site with cables, wood planks, and concrete pouring equipment Sept. 3, 1925
3 12 Gravel plant on Lake Cushman Reservoir Sept. 3, 1925
3 13  Nearly completed dam and gravel plant Sept. 3, 1925
3 14   Cushman powerhouse substation construction and excavation site Sept. 3, 1925
3 15 Framing of core wall trench through hillside at Cushman Dam site Sept. 4, 1925
4 16 Man in front of six-ft. butterfly valve in diversion tunnel of Cushman Dam Nov. 14, 1925
4 17 Workers in sluice gate tunnels of power intake at Cushman Dam site Nov. 14, 1925
4 18 Construction of entrance of power intake tunnel behind wall of Cushman Dam Nov. 20, 1925
4 19  Scaffolding and wall of Cushman Dam, nearly completed Dec. 6, 1925
4 20  Turbines from above, prior to crown plate placement, at Cushman Dam powerhouse Dec. 11, 1925
4 21 Level view of turbine during crown plate placement, Cushman Dam powerhouse Dec. 11, 1925
5 22 Scaffolding, construction of metal structure at Cushman Dam site
5 23  Partially constructedCushman Dam, releasing water from two gateways
5 24 Concrete pouring in Cushman Dam construction
5 25  Full reservoir at Cushman Dam Feb. 12, 1926

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Building sites--Washington (State)--Cushman Dam Region--Photographs
  • Concrete construction--Washington (State)--Cushman Dam Region--Photographs
  • Construction workers--Washington (State)--Cushman Dam Region--Photographs
  • Dam construction--Washington (State)--Photographs
  • Dams--Washington (State)--Photographs
  • Geographical Names :
  • Cushman Dam (Wash.)--Photographs
  • Cushman Lake (Wash.)--Photographs

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Visual Materials Collections (University of Washington)