Georgetown Steam Plant Logbooks, 1907-1973

Overview of the Collection

Seattle City Light
Georgetown Steam Plant Logbooks
1907-1973 (inclusive)
35 volumes
Collection Number
Logbooks detailing upkeep and maintenance of the Georgetown Steam Plant.
Seattle Municipal Archives
Seattle Municipal Archives
Office of the City Clerk
City of Seattle
PO Box 94728
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 2062337807
Fax: 2063869025
Access Restrictions

Records are open to the public.


Historical NoteReturn to Top

City Light provides electricity and electrical and conservation services to its public and private customers. It is the largest public utility in the Pacific Northwest. Public responsibility for electrical energy dates back to 1890 with creation of the Department of Lighting and Water Works. The formulation of this public utility stemmed from fear of monopolization by private companies and was reinforced by the inadequacy of those companies during the Great Fire of 1889. Unable to gain access to private water, much of the business district was burned to the ground. Citizens responded eagerly to the idea of publicly owned water and electricity, which was later encouraged as part of President Roosevelt's New Deal in the 1930s.

In 1902, Seattle voters passed a bond issue to develop hydroelectric power on the Cedar River under the administration of the Water Department. This was the nation's first municipally owned hydroelectric project. Electricity from this development began to serve customers in Seattle in 1905. A City Charter amendment in 1910 created the Lighting Department, making it a full member of the City's Board of Public Works. Under the leadership of Superintendent James D. Ross, the department developed the Skagit River hydroelectric project which began supplying power in 1924 with the completion of the Gorge Dam.

Both public and private power was supplied to Seattle until 1951 when the City purchased the local private electrical power company, the Puget Sound Power and Light Company, making the Lighting Department the sole supplier. The Boundary Project in northeastern Washington began operations in 1967 and supplied over half of City Light's power generation. By the early 21st century, approximately ten percent of City Light's income came from the sale of surplus energy to customers in the Northwest and Southwest with the remainder of City Light's financial support coming from customer revenue.

The current name of the agency was adopted in 1978 when the department was reorganized. As a municipally owned public power system, Seattle City Light is governed by elected Seattle officials. Administrative authority rests with the Superintendent and an executive team that includes the department's Chief of Staff, Service and Energy Delivery Officer, Human Resources Officer, Power Supply and Environmental Affairs Officer, and Chief Financial Officer. City Light is responsible for electrical service and streetlight service, streetlight problems, and also conservation, both residential and commercial/industrial.

City Light provides low-cost, reliable, and environmentally responsible electric power to approximately 395,000 customers in Seattle and neighboring areas, including Burien, Lake Forest Park, Normandy Park, Renton, SeaTac, Shoreline, Tukwila, and unincorporated King County. It is the ninth-largest public power system in the United States and has the lowest rates among comparably sized cities in the United States.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The Georgetown Steam Plant was built in 1906-1907 along the Duwamish River and provided residential and industrial electricity, as well as powering streetcars. It was notable for its use of Curtis Turbines, which were cutting edge technology at the time. The plant went out of service in 1972 and is now a National Historic Landmark.

The logbooks contain notes and data about upkeep and maintenance of the plant from both when the plant was privately owned and after it was taken over by City Light. One long series of books includes general information, while small subsets cover specific topics including turbines, boilers, and water meters. Some of the logs narrate tasks taken on each day, such as checking meters, making repairs to pumps and valves, painting, and loading coal. Other books consist of grids of various numbers/readings tracked hourly or daily.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Preferred Citation

[Item and date], Georgetown Steam Plant Logbooks, Record Series 1209-04. Box [number], Folder [number]. Seattle Municipal Archives.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1 Logbook 8/1907-9/1908
2 Logbook 9/1908-6/1909
3 Logbook 6/1909-12/1909
4 Logbook 1/1910-7/1910
5 Logbook 7/1910-2/1911
6 Logbook 3/1911-10/1911
7 Logbook 2/1911-3/1919
8 Logbook 3/1919-4/1920
9 Logbook 4/1920-4/1923
10 Logbook 4/1923/7/1926
11 Logbook 7/1926-7/1927
12 Logbook 7/1927-12/1928
13 Logbook 12/1928-12/1931
14 Logbook 2/1931-9/1942
15 Logbook 2/1935-12/1938
16 Logbook 6/1935-3/1941
17 Logbook 1/1939-12/1941
18 Logbook 1/1942-12/1943
19 Logbook 1/1942-5/1951
20 Logbook 1942-1973
21 Logbook 1947-1948
22 Logbook 1951-1952
23 Logbook 1953-1966
24 Logbook - Tabbed Data 1951-1966
25 Boiler Log 1922-1952
26 Boiler Log 1938-1949
27 Boiler Log 1946-1959
28 Turbine Log 1946-1948
29 Turbine Log 1948-1952
30 Aux Log 1934-1973
31 Gauge Log 1929-1931
32 Work List 1942-1950
33 Repair Log 1907-1920
34 Water Meter Readings 1949-1959
35 Monthly kWh Readings 1941-1951

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Electric power production--Washington (State)
  • Georgetown Steam Plant

Geographical Names

  • Georgetown (Seattle, Wash.)