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Enloe Dam Powerhouse

Status: Most Endangered Places

Year Listed: 2016

Location: Oroville, Okanogan County

The gold rush spurred early pioneer settlement of the Okanogan River Basin, but after 1914 the area increasingly turned to agriculture given the railroad’s ability to provide efficient and reliable transportation of goods. The Enloe Powerhouse and Dam were built in 1922 to meet the electricity demands of the local mining industry and an increasing population. With the improved infrastructure, the new dam greatly contributed to the extensive growth of the Okanogan Valley. The dam and powerhouse operated until 1958, at which point the Bonneville Power Administration transmission lines reached the area, providing electricity from the Columbia River.

In 2016, the Okanogan County Public Utility District released a solicitation seeking a party interested in taking over ownership of the Enloe Dam Powerhouse. Qualified applicants need to “demonstrate capacity and capability to adapt and utilize the facility for recreational, historical, and/or community use,” with an emphasis on “historical” given the powerhouse’s listing in the National Register of Historic Places. While the powerhouse is remote and in disrepair, it does afford the opportunity to tap into tourism and recreational activities for which the Okanogan Valley is known including fishing, hiking, wine tasting, and visitation to other historic sites nearby.

The property poses an adaptive use challenge—to say the least—but the potential payoff for a creative solution is enormous!