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Re: Electrical line up to the Glacier Point area

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avatar Electrical line up to the Glacier Point area
December 04, 2012 06:50PM
Every time I pass that high-voltage power pole next to the Four Mile Trail (marked 1 on the topo below)...



... I wonder about the history of that line:

-- When was it first put in?

-- Was it originally for the Glacier Point Hotel? For the water supply to Glacier Point? For the radio facility or facilities? For all of the above?

-- Is that the original power line (and route) or an upgrade?

-- Is the water tank (marked 3 on the topo) still in use? Does the water from it get pumped up to the water works (or whatever that is) near Glacier Point? Would it ever have been used to supply parts of the valley? Maybe the hotel(s) that used to be located near the trailhead?

-- Would the trail(s) shown here have had anything to do with installing or maintaining the power line and water tank?

-- Is there anyplace I can read more about how those facilities were put in and what it took to do it? I'm trying to picture how the poles and the wire would have been hauled up there, for instance.

The latest topo maps that I can find show that electrical line starting at Northside Drive and running above ground across the river, across Southside Drive, and across the Four Mile Trail on its way to the pole in the picture. It's been undergrounded since then, though. Any idea when that was done? At about the same time the line along Northside Drive was put underground? I remember watching when most of the electrical line into Pt Reyes National Seashore got buried -- sometime in the late 90s, I think. Was this an NPS-wide program at the time, maybe?



I prowled the FMT carefully at the point marked 2 on the topo. There was no sign of overhead wires but right in the middle of that bend, where the map shows the line crossing, there was a break in the asphalt. I take it that's where the line was buried:



I'm just curious -- nowhere near fanatical enough about it to try following the line through the trees to see where it comes out of the ground.

--------------------------------
I'm not the bushwhacker I used to be. Some say I never was. tongue sticking out smiley
Re: Electrical line up to the Glacier Point area
December 04, 2012 10:30PM
Well, a lot of it is well known to park historians. You could ask at the museum, which keeps the park library & stuff.

Here are a few tidbits. The 1921 park handbook (link) mentions that the old hydroelectric power plant built on the river just to the west of Pohono Bridge was completed in 1919 with a peak capacity of 2 MW. There was no external power line coming into the valley from, for example, El Portal, but the old hydro plant electrified all the camps and lodges in the valley. It would be almost certain that they ran power up the old telegraph line to the Glacier Point Hotel, which was then also used to run the pump that took water from the spring that used to feed the comfort station at Uniion Point on the Four Mile Trail and ran that water up to Glacier Point.

For the the telegraph line to the Glacier Point Hotel, which would have been converted to a telephone line by 1921 (they already had a 150 line switchboard in the valley at that time), see Chick-on's map number 51
https://picasaweb.google.com/103089501068510688008/YoseMaps#



This appears to be a 1910 map, but the red lines which have been added are the telegraph lines and are just drawn in roughly. I know this for certain from my following the old line along the Big Oak Flat Horse Trail (link).

So the answer to your question is that there has been a line up that hillside since at least the First World War. Probably first a telegraph line, then a combination power and phone line. The water works just went out of service in the last year or so when they drilled a new well up at Glacier Point.
http://yosemitenews.info/forum/read.php?3,48306
avatar Re: Electrical line up to the Glacier Point area
December 05, 2012 12:26AM
Thanks for the info. Looks like I get to research the history of the telegraph lines in the area.

Was it the water works (tank) in the topo that just went out of service, or the one near the Pohono Trail? Where's the new well located?
avatar Re: Electrical line up to the Glacier Point area
June 18, 2014 12:12AM
Well, by the time I did chaotically (as usual) "research" the old telephone lines along the Four Mile Trail, I'd pretty much forgotten about this thread. I just happened upon some remnants of the lines, took some pictures, and compared notes with a few others. That discussion is here: http://yosemitenews.info/forum/read.php?3,74650
avatar Re: Electrical line up to the Glacier Point area
December 05, 2012 12:29AM
It's also obvious that a line used to go up the Ledge Trail gully to Glacier Point.

Some of the wire is draping down the east cliff onto the upper part of the trail as the gully starts closing in. It actually makes a pretty good hand hold to pull yourself up.
A bit farther down on the east side is a point where there are 3 eye hooks that I'd guess were used to guy a pole to support the line.

I get the feeling that most of the major trails around the valley had a line running along them.
Upper Yosemite Fall trail ( insulators in the trees around Columbia Rock )
John Muir trail up to Nevada Fall ( insulators in the trees, remember the phone booth up there? I noticed it was gone this summer as I was coming down )
Big Oak Flat road ( insulators in the trees )
Indian Canyon east side ( big fat cable on the ground east side )
Old Coulterville Road from Foresta to 140 ( buried under the road exposed at washout )

Does anything go up Snow Creek?
Has anyone seen cables/wires/insulators anywhere else?



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/05/2012 01:02AM by qumqats.
Re: Electrical line up to the Glacier Point area
December 09, 2012 07:31PM
Quote
qumqats
Has anyone seen cables/wires/insulators anywhere else?

On the old Wawona Road, I found an insulator with a bit of wire attached just north of the Grouse Creek "obliteration zone" (both ends of the wire quickly disappeared in the undergrowth and I didn't try to trace it). There are also some much more heavy duty cables (like the one you mention on the Old Coulterville Rd) exposed by washout in the vicinity of the Artist Creek crossing.
avatar Re: Electrical line up to the Glacier Point area
August 17, 2015 08:59AM
Quote
qumqats
It's also obvious that a line used to go up the Ledge Trail gully to Glacier Point.

Some of the wire is draping down the east cliff onto the upper part of the trail as the gully starts closing in. It actually makes a pretty good hand hold to pull yourself up.
A bit farther down on the east side is a point where there are 3 eye hooks that I'd guess were used to guy a pole to support the line.

I finally found a picture, here:
http://yosemitenews.info/forum/read.php?3,25265,25352#msg-25352
avatar Re: Electrical line up to the Glacier Point area
December 05, 2012 01:01AM
Quote
gophersnake
. . . snip . . . Would it ever have been used to supply parts of the valley?. . . snip

As I understand it . . .

The original water supply for the valley came from a diversion dam that was half way between Happy Isles and the bridge at the Comfort Station up JMT near where Illilouette Creek runs into the Merced. Recently they've been removing the last remnants of the dam and associated piping. You used to be able to see parts from JMT, but no more.

At some point they decommissioned this source. I've been told that all water for the valley now comes out of 3 wells in the valley that go down 3000 feet ( can you imagine what Yosemite Valley would be like if it were 3000 feet deeper!!? ). All of this water gets pumped up to a HUGE water tank that's part way up towards Illilouette Falls. If you ever hike up/down the pack trail you'll walk by the tank. The tank is quite obvious from Sierra Point, you're looking down right at it. The tank is large so that they have enough water should they have to fight any large fires in the valley.
avatar Re: Electrical line up to the Glacier Point area
December 05, 2012 01:23AM
Thank you. I've seen that tank on topo maps and Google satellite views. I had no idea that well water was pumped up to it, though.

I remember drinking from some of the water fountains in the valley (by the Lower Yosemite Fall restrooms, the Visitor Center, etc.) on 90-degree days and wondering how the water got so cold. There was a sign on the fountain by the Visitor Center that mentioned the wells.
avatar Re: Electrical line up to the Glacier Point area
June 18, 2014 12:46AM
Quote
gophersnake
I'm just curious -- nowhere near fanatical enough about it to try following the line through the trees to see where it comes out of the ground.

About half a year later, I did follow the line through the trees. It turns out that I was mistaken about where the undergrounded part of the line crosses the Four Mile Trail. The broken asphalt has nothing to do with it, though when I started from that spot and went in the general direction of the line as shown on the map, I soon found the first pole:



The second pole was also visible through the trees:



I tried tracing the undergrounded part of the line back toward the trail. Although it had been buried some time ago, there were still faint signs of where the trench had run. I finally came out near the big red sign (shown edge-on in this picture). As far as I can tell, the path of the cable runs right through the middle of the pic:



That's this sign, of course:



From Columbia Rock (or the trail near it) I later got pictures of the next two poles, "3" and "4":





Pole 4 is the one near the traverse section of the Four Mile Trail. The wires from it run almost directly over the little creek crossing. There's a pic of it in the first post of this thread.

It took me a long time to spot "5", the next pole up, because the sun was usually right over it when I'd go by there. This February I finally got a couple of pictures with the sun still behind the cliff. I don't think I'll try scrambling up that ravine in search of additional poles.





On an almost unrelated subject... last summer I happened to go up the old stage road from Bridalveil to just above the Wawona Tunnel. Around Artist Point I kept seeing what had to be a partly buried electrical cable. I'd guess that it's no longer in use or it would be getting more protection and maintenance.





Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/18/2014 12:50AM by gophersnake.
Re: Electrical line up to the Glacier Point area
June 18, 2014 07:50PM
Quote
gophersnake
On an almost unrelated subject... last summer I happened to go up the old stage road from Bridalveil to just above the Wawona Tunnel. Around Artist Point I kept seeing what had to be a partly buried electrical cable. I'd guess that it's no longer in use or it would be getting more protection and maintenance.


Well, you are right about the power line. It is the line that also has a tap to feed the old waterworks. See: http://yosemitenews.info/forum/read.php?3,48306

But you are wrong about the cable along the Old Wawona Road. It is a major telephone trunk cable. I have followed it all the way to the top of Turtle Dome, where there is a microwave tower pointed at the Central Valley. I don't know if that big cable is still in use. It's possible that it has been replaced by a microwave link that uses the mirror reflector next to the Four Mile Trail. A cable is soooo much harder to maintain and splice than a microwave link, and it's not much good for carrying internet data.

It's also possible that someone buried a fiber optic cable under route 140 when they did the last sewer line repair. That could replace a zillion twisted pair phone wires..
Re: Electrical line up to the Glacier Point area
June 19, 2014 10:38PM
In respect of the large black braided cable located along the route of the Wawona Road, I had occasion to speak with a retired Ma Bell employee/amateur radio operator shortly after the summer, 1990 fire. The gentleman told me at the time that the black braided cable had been compromised by the fire and temporary communication was provided by cross-band repeater systems until something more permanent could be implemented. I am very pleased to see this research taking place; had I stayed in the Yosemite region, I would probably be pursuing the same topic.
avatar Re: Electrical line up to the Glacier Point area
June 20, 2014 12:12AM
Thanks for the phone cable info, wherever and Dearborn. cool smiley
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