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VERDE HERITAGE 1917-2017: TAPCO Celebrates 100 Years

TAPCO Celebrates 100th Anniversary

TAPCO Celebrates 100th Anniversary

R. S. Mason, chief engineer of the Arizona Power Company (The A. P. Co. or TAPCO), stated during July, that excellent headway is being made in the construction of the new electric power works on the Verde River near Clarkdale. This power plant will be an auxiliary to that of Fossil Creek, and the new works will be propelled by steam. It is to cost about $600,000. This additional unit will generate 10,000 horse power, and in its operation there will be no further interruptions as have frequently prevailed during washouts or lightening troubles. (Weekly Journal-Miner; Prescott; July 25, 1917.)

"The big plant at Tapco, which was designed with the idea of increasing the electrical output of the company in the Jerome-Clarkdale district, is remarkable not only on account of the splendid equipment contained, but also on account of the fact that the entire building and all of its contents were erected and assembled within the short space of time between January 1, and September 7, 1917, when the current was turned into the trunk lines. ... The location of the big electrical station is within 3 miles of Clarkdale, and the property on which the plant is situated consists of 12 acres of irrigated farm land which was purchased from the Verde Fruit Farms Company, and which is enclosed in a bend of the Verde River. ... The plant is located about half a mile from the Clarkdale line of the Santa Fe owned Verde Valley Railroad and is reached by a standard gauge spur 2,800 feet in length. ... Immediately east of the power house 7 houses for engineers and operators have been built under the shade of cottonwood trees. The space between the houses, 400 feet long and 100 feet wide, has been planted with fruit trees and an oval driveway passes around the plaza immediately in front of each house." ... (Weekly Journal-Miner; Prescott; Wednesday, September 2, 1917.)

"Adjoining the boiler room and connected by a concrete flues is a concrete stack 8 feet in diameter and 220 feet in height. ... Oil fuel is used and there is an oil unloading station where 4 carloads of oil can be unloaded at one time. The storage tank contains 30 carloads of oil, enough for 1 months' operation. ... In order to supply water, a concrete intake was built on the bank of the Verde River, 4,600 feet from the power house, and water from this intake is carried by means of a concrete flume 4 feet wide and 3 feet deep to the inlet of the condenser. After passing through the condenser, a continuation of the concrete flume 800 feet long returns the water directly to the river." ... (Weekly Journal-Miner; Prescott; September 12, 1917; page 3.)

Tapco was usually accessible by a dirt road from Clarkdale's Patio Town. During periods of high water, however, the only access was over the original Tuzigoot area wood bridge, up the Sycamore Canyon Road, to a (really fun) 450 foot swinging bridge built about 1929 over the Verde River. The bridge was removed in January, 1982, because of safety and liability concerns.

Tapco operated continuously from September 7, 1917, until 1930. Tapco was reactivated during peak summer electrical needs in 1935, 1939, 1940, 1953, 1958, and for three and a half years from 1946 to 1950. Several Arizona electric companies combined to become Arizona Public Service (A.P.S.) during the mid-1950's.

Tapco finally closed in 1958. The 15 homes on the site were sold and moved during 1965.

(See: The Verde Independent; Cottonwood; January 11, 1978; December 2, 1981; and July 26, 2011.)

The Clarkdale Historical Society and Museum celebrates the 100th Anniversary of TAPCO on Saturday, September 16, at 2:00 p.m. at the Men's Lounge in the Clark Memorial Clubhouse at Clarkdale. There is no admission charge.

To hear some truly electrifying stories, join historian Tim Coons on Saturday. He will show photographs, display a collection of artifacts and documents, and will share stories told by the people who worked or lived at Tapco. This will be a great opportunity to learn about a unique part of our Verde Valley heritage.

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