Jim Prusak introduced Chris Rousseau, a fellow civil engineer and Manager of Hydro Operations for MPL. He gave an extremely interesting presentation discussing the geographical and historical overview of the Minnesota Power and Light electrical generating stations in our region of the state. 
 
The Thomson Hydro Station, the largest, was completed in 1907, at a cost of $4,000,000. It was an impressive engineering feat for its day and held up very well, a legacy of its original builders, until the flood of 2012. The Thomson Station has recently undergone an extensive restoration and is anticipated to last another 100 years. Engineering projects can survive a very long time – even longer than the people who construct them. Chris described the three different watersheds that are part of his area, an unusual geological feature. A history of the expansion of electrical power throughout the United States was explained, including the competition between DC and AC systems. Our parallel local electrical power development met with several setbacks, as electricity was viewed as a “fad” by many. Fortunately, the generation of electricity in the iron mining industry was in a strong position as the United States entered World War I.
 
The production of steel from the iron ore mined on the Range was critical to the war effort. Unfortunately, we experienced a repeat of this reliance on electrical power for steel production during World War II. The 1950s marked the end of the “Golden Age of Hydro for northern Minnesota.” The next installment of Chris’ program is entitled, “Renaissance,” but, sadly, we ran out of time before we could hear about it. Hopefully, Chris can come back and tell us about the optimistic future for the production of electricity. Reminder: Fireside Chat here next Tuesday at 5:30 pm.
 
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