Oh, and Kuna, for those of you who do not know Idaho, sits in the desert south of Boise.
This should tell you a lot about the geography in our part of the world.
After the attacks on 9-11, federal officials decided Swan Falls Dam — the first hydroelectric dam on the Snake River, built at the turn of the last century — was vulnerable as a terrorism target. So, while the modern part of the complex is still churning out power, officials closed the dam's hundred-year-old powerhouse and, most unfortunately, the small hydroelectric museum inside.
At least they open the museum one day a year and let the public in. Saturday is that day. I wrote a story for The Statesman about it, and spent the morning touring the site with the Idaho Power spokesman.
2. The Trade Dollar Mining and Milling Company built the dam in 1901 to supply power for the mines the company built in nearby Silver City. Horses and oxen hauled all the building material for the dam from the railroad line in Kuna, to the bottom of the canyon. The canyon walls are so steep, this seems impossible, but it actually happened.
3. The landscape of dark basalt cliffs, giant boulders and rocky spires on the far edge of the canyon are remarkable against a daytime sky. This morning the sky was grey-blue. The sun was out with a bit of a warm wind coming up off the water.
5. Inside the powerhouse, a bright, quiet, industrial space, you can look out casement windows and see up-river and down-river at the same time.
6. The powerhouse is made of molded concrete, like parts of the Idaho State Capitol in Boise. In both places, you can still see the marks of the wood plank molds.
Another ad urges one to “Be a shadow-chaser” by stocking up on light bulbs.
8. The old equipment inside the powerhouse, from the steel cranes and giant hooks overhead that moved heavy equipment around the plant, to the turbine shaft that resembles a giant egg-beater, to the “wicket” gates that controlled the amount of water coming into the turbines, is all 100 years old. But it is so solid and so obviously well made, it looks like you could switch it all back on right this minute and power a city. And then, for fun, bring a Frankenstein monster to life.