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Iva E. Tutt  (1859 - 1952)
Childs Generating Plant, Fossil Creek,
near Camp Verde
Iva E. Tutt, engineer and businesswoman, was one of the engineers responsible for the construction of the Childs Hydroelectric Plant on Fossil Creek in Yavapai County. This power plant, completed in 1909, provided electric power to the towns and copper mines of Jerome and Prescott. By providing an inexpensive source of power, the project aided the development of both the mines and towns of this region.

Region: North Central Arizona
Theme: Women at Work

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 Crown King.

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.

Photo Credits:
Childs Generating Plant - Courtesy of the Sharlot Hall Museum Archives

 

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