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Contributed by Sharlot Hall Museum, Library and Archives
The APS Childs-Irving hydroelectric power plant was located between Strawberry and Camp Verde, Arizona. Constructed in 1908, it first went online 21 June, 1909. The plant was designed to harness Fossil Creek, which receives abundant water supply from Fossil Springs at the base of the Mogollon Rim. The springs boasted rates of output of 43 cubic feet per second. In its early days, the Childs-Irving plant was able to supply all of the power needs for Yavapai County. In fact, during the 1920s, the plant also supplied 70% of the electricity to Phoenix.
Water rights to Fossil Creek were originally purchased by rancher Lew Turner in 1900. Turner hoped to harness hydroelectric power to sell for mining purposes in Jerome, Clarkdale, Crown King, and other mining communities in Yavapai County. Soon, the Arizona Power Company (APC) made plans to construct a hydroelectric plant to harness the power of Fossil Creek. The Arizona Power Company was presided over by F.S. Vielé of Vielé, Blackwell, and Buck. Vielé, Blackwell, and Buck served as consulting engineers on the project through the organizational name Electric Operating Construction Co. The William P. Bonbright & Co. Bankers and Brokers of Colorado Springs, Colorado sold investment bonds to raise funds for the project. The Childs Plant received its name from S.W. Childs, who worked as a bond broker for the Bonbright Company. The Irving Plant was named for Bonbright co-founder Irving Bonbright.
At the time of the plant's construction, Arizona was still four years from becoming a state, the closest railroad was in Mayer, and the area was largely undeveloped and lacking roads. Thus, the transportation of materials involved a two-day horseback trip through mountains and canyons. Crews of 450 primarily Mexican and Native American laborers (and horses) worked for over one year to construct 40 miles of roads for hauling concrete, a dam, a powerhouse, and almost 8,800 feet of concrete flumes for transporting water into the Childs Plant. The Childs Plant, completed in 1909 and located near the Verde River, boasted three Pelton-wheel generators capable of producing 6,700 kilowatts. In 1916, the Irving Plant was completed, and possessed a single Allis-Chalmers' Francis turbine capable of generating 1,560 kilowatts.
In later years, as Phoenix grew and technology developed, the Childs-Irving Plant was outstripped by larger plants, and the engineering and equipment of the plant became outdated.
The APS Childs-Irving collection contains founding documents and administrative records of the Arizona Power Company (APC), which later became Arizona Public Service Co. (APS). Such records include correspondence, legal correspondence, water rights records, agreements, and meeting minutes. It contains correspondence and records of F.S. Vielé, serving as President of the Arizona Power Company, as well as maps, plans, and drawings used in the construction and operation of the plant.