Stairs Power Plant - Utah Power Company


The Stairs Power Plant in Big Cottonwood Canyon - c.2011 / Donald K. Winegar - Tintic Images

Brief history

The Stairs power plant is one of two power stations built but the Utah Power Company in 1896.(1) A brief history of this plant is given on the Granite Power Plant page of this web-site. The style of the Stairs building is similar to the Granite, but not exactly the same.

Like the Granite plant, the Stairs was also built as a hydro-electric plant. Water provided by a small reservoir hundreds of feet above the powerhouse adjacent to the Storm Mountain Picnic Area just below the old Maxfield Lodge. Also, like the Granite, a metal penstock carried water from the reservoir down-slope to the nozzle or "head" driving Pelton-wheels at this generating plant.

Electricity generated here fed customers up canyon as well as down. It was also used to electrify some mining operations in the canyon. 

As you can see from the image above, the Stairs plant has had more extensive repairs to the outer brick work. Though repaired and always trimmed out in a fresh coat of green paint, the transformer racks on the highway side of the plant and the old broken and unused insulator holes on the north and east walls of the building give it a more industrial and "run-down" look.

While the same age as the Granite plant, the Stairs plant looks far more tired and worn. Having said that, it is still fully functional, and still generating power.

It should also be noted that a very nice, small, private "employee & family" park and picnic area is located on the Stairs property.  

Getting there

The Stairs power plant is immediately adjacent to the canyon highway about 2 1/2 miles from the canyon mouth. It cannot be missed as you drive up the canyon as the road almost wraps around three sides of the building. Driving by is all you can do. There is no public parking at or near the plant, neither is there public access. It is well posted as "Private Property".

What remains

The operating powerhouse, the complex water diversion channels, and the private company park are all that remain at this site.


Arched and freshly painted nameplate of the Stairs Power Plant all but hidden behind wires, poles, circuit breakers, ceramic insulators, conduit, and transformer racks. - c.2011 / Donald K. Winegar - Tintic Images


(1) Utah Power & Light - National Register of Historic Places Registration Form - NPS Form 10-900 - OMB No. 1024-0018, March, 1989 -