A look back at Bonney Lake and Lake Tapps
April 22, 2012 · 6:59 PM
Lake Tapps, as it is known today, was formed as a result of the White River Project, built by Stone & Webster for the Pacific Coast Power Company beginning in 1909. It purpose was to create a hydroelectric power plant with water diverted from the White River through a series of flumes and basins to Lake Tapps.
The 14 mile project included 19 dams and embankments, seven miles of storage basins, and five miles of canals. Building the flumes, canal linings, and rail trestles required 20 million board feet of timber. An on-site sawmill provided most of the wood. It was enough lumber to build a five-foot sidewalk stretching from Seattle to New York!
Four natural lakes - Crawford, Kirtley, Church, and Tapps - were flooded to create the Lake Tapps reservoir. The resulting storage provided 2.5 billion cubic feet of water, which had the potential to generate 18 million kilowatt hours of electricity.
The work in the field was completed in only 20 months in a region that was heavily timbered and back then considered a wilderness. Since the Northern Pacific Railway had a station in Buckley on the east and in Dieringer on the west, a standard-gauge railway was constructed around the northern edge of the Lake Tapps basin to transport supplies and equipment to a workforce of 1,000 men. Embankments and levies were built to allow the completed reservoir surface to be raised by 5 feet.
The newly generated power was carried by the eight transmission lines to help feed the energy needs of Seattle and Tacoma, but it was more than 30 years before the residents of the future Town of Bonney Lake had electric power.