Elkhorn Power Plant

Elkhorn Power Plant Control Room

The Elkhorn Power Plant was constructed by Pocahontas Consolidated Collieries to provide electricity to its mines in West Virginia and Virginia.






The actual name of the location has been modified.

The Elkhorn Power Plant was opened by Pocahontas Consolidated Collieries in 1903 to power the Delta and Lick Branch coal mines in the Pocahontas coalfield, 13 and later the Angle, Norfolk, and Shamokin coal mines in the Pocahontas coalfield, the Sagamore mine in Mercer County, and the Caswell Creek, Cherokee, and Rolfe mines in Tazewell County, Virginia. 2 3 Coal was fed directly into the 4,000 KW 9 power plant from the Delta coal mine whose portal was directly behind the turbine hall. 2 3 Inside were two 2,000 KW Parsons turbo-generators and one 3,000 KW Parsons turbo-generator. 13

In June 1910, the New River Power Company was chartered with the intention to construct hydroelectric power plants along the New River to provide electricity to customers between Roanoke, Virginia, Bristol, Virginia, Bluefield, West Virginia, and Mt. Airy, North Carolina. 13 Officers from Pocahontas met with officers from the New River to consider having the new entity take over the company’s Elkhorn Power Plant, as New River could furnish electricity to the coal company’s mines at a rate of 1¢ per kilowatt-hour, which was cheaper than what the coal company could achieve even with the fuel supply next to the mines.

In June 1911, the newly formed Appalachian Power Company (APC) acquired the Elkhorn Power Plant. 9 APC had been formed in October 1909 9 and incorporated in May 1911 10 11 13 to merge the various New River power interests. 13 By late 1912, APC had constructed two hydroelectric power plants and dams along the New River in Virginia and connected it to a new substation at Elkhorn via a massive 88,000-volt transmission line. 2 5 7 9 10 The substation was the largest in APC’s system. 6 APC placed the Elkhorn Power Plant in reserve status and maintained it in case of failure of transmission lines. 9

By April 1913, APC was serving 67 coal operations and camps throughout southwest West Virginia and western Virginia. 9

The Elkhorn power plant continued to be used for power generation until at least through 1914. 13 The building was partly destroyed in a fire in early 1918 but was rebuilt shortly after. 12

APC was acquired by the American Gas & Electric Power Company in 1925 which became American Electric Power (AEP) in 1958. 4 AEP continued to utilize the Elkhorn Power Plant structure to manage its adjoining substation and for storage until 1997.






Further Reading


Sources

  1. American Electric Power History.” Zippia, 28 Jul. 2021.
  2. DellaMea, Chris. “Switchback & Mulberry, W.Va.Coalfields of the Appalachian Mountains.
  3. Schust, Alex P. Billion Dollar Coalfield: West Virginias McDowell County and the Industrialization of America. Two Mule, 2010.
  4. Casto, James E. “Appalachian Power Company.” e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 9 Dec. 2010.
  5. Lawless, George. “Conquest of Lighting in West Virginia.” Sunday Gazette-Mail [Charleston], 16 Feb. 1964, p. 20m.
  6. “Big Improvement Program is Now Well Under Way.” Bluefield Daily Telegraph, 31 Jul. 1926, p. 1.
  7. “Dams on New River Soon Be Complete.” Hinton Daily News and Leader, 6 Jul. 1912, p. 1.
  8. “Steam Electric Plant at Glen Lyn, Va.” Hinton Daily News and Leader, 4 May 1917, p. 1.
  9. “A Central Power Plant for Pocahontas Mines.” The Black Diamond, 26 Apr. 1913, pp. 20-21.
  10. “Appalachian Power Company.” Moody’s Analyses of Investments, 1921, pp. 1057-1059.
  11. “Appalachian Power Development on New River, Virginia.” The Coal and Coke Operator, 11 Jul. 1912, pp. 21-22.
  12. “Fire Losses.” The American Architect, 13 Feb. 1918, p. 26.
  13. Schust, Alex P. “Pocahontas Consolidated Collieries Company Electric Power Plant.” Billion Dollar Coalfield. Two Mule Publishing, 2010, pp. 82-85.

1 Comment

  1. Hi,
    I’m an architectural thesis student and would like to visit this building as a possible site but can’t find the location listed anywhere. I was just wondering if you could share that information with me?
    Thanks

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