Tacoma is located at milepost 472.3 on the Silverton Branch of the San Juan Extension. The location is mainly of note because of Xcel Energy's (formerly Public Service Co. of Colorado) Tacoma hydroelectric plant, located across the river from the railway. The location's name reportedly is a byproduct of six transformers originally shipped to the site. They were originally destined for Tacoma, WA, but were too small and sold to this project instead. The name remained on the shipping instructions, and apparently stuck at the new site.
Originally, there was a spur off the Silverton Branch that crossed the river and serviced the plant directly. The flooding of 5-Oct-1911 destroyed the bridge and spur, and it was never replaced. (The flood also destroyed some 20 miles of the branch.) Today, the Durango & Silverton has a 900 foot siding here, mainly used to store old freight cars.
Tacoma Hydroelectric Plant
The plant was originally conceived by HT Henderson, a Tennessee engineer. He founded the Animas Canal, Reservoir, Water, Power and Investment Company, which in turn started construction in 1902. The plant was completed in 1905 with a single 2 megawatt generator. A second 2 megawatt unit was added in 1906, and a third 4 megawatt unit in 1949. Power from the facility originally went north to the mines of Silverton via two 44kV transmission lines. Durango was eventually also tied into the system, being connected in 1909.
Today, the plant is still inaccessible by road - the only way in or out is by railroad. Xcel keeps a small motorcar up at Rockwood, CO to allow service personnel to reach the facility.
Maps and Photos