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Ross Dam

The Skagit River Hydroelectric Project began in 1918 and ended in 1961 with the partial completion of the Ross Dam. It includes the Gorge, Diablo, and Ross dams and powerhouses, and is affiliated with the smaller Newhalem Creek Hydroelectric Project, which includes the Gorge Power Plant in Newhalem. In 1917 the Seattle Department of Lighting (today Seattle City Light) superintendent James Delmage (J. D.) Ross chose Ruby Creek, near the Skagit River, as the potential site of a new powerhouse and dam. This site offered the possibility of a large storage reservoir. Beginning in 1920, City Light constructed a small plant on Newhalem Creek that would supply power for the building of subsequent facilities. Diablo Dam, completed 1930, was constructed to facilitate water transport of logs from the Ruby site and supply additional power for the entire project. After some financial setbacks, the dam came online in 1936. Ruby Dam, renamed Ross Dam after Ross’ death in 1939, was completed in 1949. It provides 360,000 kilowatts of hydroelectric power to the City of Seattle, stands 540 feet high and creates Ross Lake which, when full, rises 1,600 feet above sea level. The lake extends into British Columbia, 20 miles from the dam.