There has been hydroelectric generation on the Kaweah River for more than a century. There are three powerhouses in Three Rivers, miles of flumes, three forebays, two diversion dams (near Sequoia National Park’s Potwisha), and four dams in the Mineral King area of Sequoia National Park. These components make up an intricate system that produces enough clean energy to annually power thousands of homes and businesses.
The four Mineral King dams were conceptualized in 1904 as a way to maintain a reliable source of water incoming to the Mount Whitney Power and Electric Company’s Powerhouse No. 1. And because of these dams, there are today recreational trails to the four lakes that they control — Crystal, Eagle, Franklin, and Monarch — making them popular hiking destinations. In 1917, Southern California Edison succeeded the Mt. Whitney Power Company and took over the Kaweah facilities and operations.
The photos above were taken during an aerial tour of the four Mineral King dams on Monday, July 31, by James Kennard, who oversees the maintenance and operations of the Kaweah hydroelectric facilities, headquartered in Three Rivers.