WALSENBURG- A television segment on the Walsen power plant, the huge brick structure just west of Walsenburg on Highway 160, will air 6:30 pm Saturday, May 9, on CBS Denver Channel 4.
Local people will be interviewed on the program as well as one of the owners. Shots inside and out were filmed earlier.
This power plant, built in 1912 to replace a smaller one built in 1898, was a $400,000 project. Over the years it supplied electric power to at least 30 coal mines and Walsenburg. The surrounding Walsen coal camp of 191 company houses, also had a schoolhouse, bathhouses, garages, club house, a YMCA, boarding houses, basketball and baseball teams with a large grandstand, and a Colorado Supply Company store. The county population was twice what it is today.
Some 157 miles of underground coal mining tunnels in the area underneath the plant meant the Walsen mine with multiple entrances was one of the major producers in Huerfano County. Eighty miners lost their lives in these tunnels and in accidents on top.
Although the mine closed in 1931, the power plant continued to produce electricity under various owners including Trinidad Gas and Electric company and Frontier Power Company until 1955 when the city of Walsenburg bought it. Finally the city was operating it at a loss of $5,000 a month and closed it in 1978. San Isabel Electric has been supplying the city with electricity since then.
Last year John Carlson of the Huerfano County Historical Society nominated the power plant to the Most Endangered Places 2009 list. It was one of four selected. Presently the plant is for sale; it is likely an historic structure assessment will be made.