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Hydroelectric history in the Basin
Moore Family Tour offers glimpse of historic Link River
By Jill Aho, Herald and News 10/20/08
H&N photo by Jill Aho. Left to right, Mary Jane Macartney talks to Julie Whitlatch, a friend of Moore family home owner Rhonda O’Conner, and Klamath Falls residents Mary and Bill George.

   Hydroelectric power has had a home in Klamath Falls for 100 years. PacifiCorp’s Westside power plant on Link River began generating power in October of 1908, and much of the same equipment still resides within the historic building. 

   About 40 people were welcomed into the power station Sunday as part of the Moore Family Tour, organized by the Favell Museum. Museum Director Todd Kepple said he wanted to do the tour because the Moore family was so influential in early Klamath Falls, or Linkville, as it was known back then. 

   The Moore family patriarch, William Smith Moore, moved to Oregon in 1848, to the Klamath area in 1868 and started the first sawmill in Linkville in 1877. 

   His two sons, Rufus Scudder Moore and Charles Sumner Moore, went on to finance the first powerhouse, donated land for Moore Park and each attended a Republican National Convention. 

   Overlooking the powerhouse, the Moore family home still stands, commanding impressive views of Link River. Built in 1909, the home has been preserved in near original condition. Rhonda O’Conner purchased the home about seven years ago.

A few minor changes 

   “I’ve painted, changed the carpet,” she said. She replaced the roof and the upstairs bathroom sink, but has left the windows the same. 

   At the Moore family home, Mary Jane “Bud” Macartney, Charles Sumner Moore’s granddaughter, reminisced about the house she was born and married in. 

   “None of the furniture is ours,” commented the 91-year-old. “The house is the same and that’s nice.” 

   Macartney said it was nice to return to her childhood home and see so little has changed. Down the hill at the powerhouse, little has been modified as well. 

   “Hydropower really hasn’t changed much in the last few hundred years,” said Pacific Power spokesman Toby Freeman. 

   That surprised Carol and Alan Eberlein, long-time Klamath Falls residents. 

   “I assumed it had been upgraded, modernized,” Alan said. 

   Power generation 

   When operating, the Eastside station can generate enough electricity to power 300 to 400 homes in an average year, or about one-sixth the electricity generated across the river at the company’s Westside station. 

   The station is currently idle, Freeman said, due to a settlement agreement with Oregon Wild. The plant will operate from Nov. 15 through the spring of next year. 

   Future unknown 

   But the future of the powerhouse is questionable. When PacifiCorp prepared to re-license the Klamath hydro project, it proposed the decommissioning of both the Eastside and Westside plants. There are many possibilities, Freeman said. 

   “I’m voting for a brew pub myself,” he said.
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