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High Voltage Bus Tour
The first stop was the Valley Generating Station, one of four gas-fired power plants operated by the DWP. We first do a loop around Receiving Station M, then the plant.
We then go next door to the Truesdale Training Center, where we are met by a new group of briefers.
The tour gets a briefing in the Operations Training Center in Truesdale, with a wall-sized diagrammatic switchboard of a system similar to the actual DWP network that lights up and responds to provide realistic and interactive training scenarios.
At Truesdale there is a yard full of switchgear equipment and underground vaults that is off-line and labeled, so trainees can safely interact with them.
Underground vault training site.
Splicing and cable coupling training area.
Truesdale has dense forests of utility poles for training, some topped with transformers and other appurtenances for doing line work, others set up to practice climbing.
Sylmar Tunnel explosion of 1971, where 17 miners building a water supply tunnel for the city were killed.
Our bus enters the facility at Sylmar Converter Station and passes through the forest of exotic outdoor switchgear resembling an extraterrestrial sculpture park.
Entering the converter station.
Lobby general orientation.
System on screen.
Viewing the valve halls.
After departing, we stop for a brief infrastructural moment at Newhall Pass, an axis mundi of LA conveyance. Looking up is one of the most complicated freeway exchanges in the city, with flyways soaring this way and that (which collapsed in the Northridge Quake 20 years ago). Looking down is a canyon with a hundred year old rail tunnel portal, the train coming into the city from the north. Just out of sight to the northwest is Beale’s Cut, a trough dug in a canyon in the 1860s as a way to pass in and out of the city. At the surface, where the bus is pulled over to look this over, is the old road through the pass, built after Beale’s cut, called The Old Road.
Onward, upstream, into San Francisquito Canyon.
Downward into the DWP village at Power Plant Number One.
We meet with a briefer, who takes us through town.
To Power Plant Number One.
Control Room, Power Plant Number One.
Daily log, still written in a book by hand.
Sure, you can press that one – not THAT one, THAT one . . .
Exploring the plant.
One last stop on the way back.
Down an abandoned road.
To the ruins of the St. Francis Dam.
In 1928, the dam failed, hours after William Mulholland inspected it and declared it safe. Its failure was one of the worst industrial accidents in American history, with at least 450 people killed.
Back to the bus, and the drop towards sea level, into Los Angeles.