|Iva Tutt's father was an engineer, and he taught her about machinery
from an early age. Although she had no formal training as an
engineer, she successfully developed an electric light plant in Long
Beach, California, in 1895. Her business paid off handsomely and in
1902, she looked for new opportunities in Arizona. She and her husband
moved to Prescott to develop hydroelectric water power from Fossil
Creek. The Tutts and two Arizonans created the Arizona Power
Construction Company (APCC) to construct and operate power generating
plants and electric lines. This company surveyed the land near Fossil
Creek to build a road. The creek is located in rough canyon country
that made early transportation and construction very difficult. The
APCC also studied the water flow of the creek, determining that it had
a steady flow of 43 cubic feet per second (20,000 gallons per minute)
which was an adequate and dependable supply.
After two years of work and study, the APCC ran out of funds. In 1907,
the Electric Operating Company came in and helped re-organize the
APCC, arranging the sale of bonds worth $1.5 million for the
construction project. The merged company became the Arizona Power
Company. The project signed its first contract with Jerome's United
Verde Mine in 1907 and began construction the same year, completing
the first generator in 1909. The project redirected water through
flumes that were stationed on hillsides, running to the hydroelectric
plant. The flumes were made of concrete because the traditional wood
and ditch type of flume system would not work in the rough terrain of
the area. They also constructed tunnels. When the system was complete,
it included 8,800 feet of reinforced concrete flume bed, 4,888 feet of
concrete-lined tunnels and 1,393 feet of concrete pipe.
The generating station contained three 3,000-horsepower turbines and
three 1,800-kilowatt General Electric generators. After water ran
through the turbines, it was released into the nearby Verde River. The
power was transmitted to Jerome along steel towers, the first long-
distance power transmission in Arizona. Eventually, the generators
supplied power to Camp Verde, Prescott, Mayer, Poland Junction and
After the two companies merged, it's unclear how much of the
engineering work was done by Iva Tutt. She was a driving force behind
the early stages of the project, but by 1910, R.S. Masson was known as
the chief engineer. Later, in 1914, when the United Verde Copper
Company needed more power, they made an agreement with Arizona Power
Company to have a new plant constructed, which was called the Irving
Plant. Later, Arizona Public Service (APS) ran the generating stations
that provided power to the Phoenix metropolitan area. In 1991, APS
decided to de-commission the two plants and allow the stream to flow
freely, thereby restoring the beautiful riparian area.
The American Society of Mechanical Engineers named the Childs-Irving
power plants a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark.
For more information, see "Harnessing the Water Power of Fossil Creek"
by Terry Munderloh, Sharlot Hall Museum Days Past, 2007.
Childs Generating Plant - Courtesy of the Sharlot Hall Museum Archives