Bull Run Powerhouse Art Exhibit


Bull Run Powerhouse Exhibit--
the third Industry & Art project developed through our partnership with Portland General Electric.

Twenty one excited artists participated in the April 30/May 1 Bull Run plein air event to gather images and artistic impressions of the historic hyrdopower site. Over the course of the following year, the Bull Run exhibit completed stints at the Sandy Library, the Mt. Hood Museum and Visitor Center, the West Linn Public Library Gallery and PGE's department of hydroengineering.  Thanks to grant funding, this wonderful project, which straddles education, fine art and heritage/preservation, is now available in a high-quality show catalog format at all County libraries.

  Three historic Clackamas County hydropower facilities have now been documented in art:

  • T.W. Sullivan plant (operating at Willamette Falls since 1895)
  • Hawley Pulp and Paper Company powerhouse (decommissioned and taken down to its foundation in 2008)
(For current status of the preservation of the powerhouse, go to www.savebullrun.org)

Artists assembled in the turbine room, taking in the visuals and talking with PGE's Bob Steele about the history of the building.

One popular image was this sign...

More than 3,000 visitors toured the Mt. Hood Cultural Center and Museum during the three months our  "Art Contemplates Industry: Bull Run Powerhouse"  was on display at the Village of Government Camp, Oregon.  We thank Museum Director Lloyd Musser for hosting the exhibit and its October 3rd artists' reception.  Artists Bonnie Meltzer,Christopher Mooney,Dean Walch,Judith Davis,Kevin Farrell,Lawrence Johnson,Leslie Peterson,Lisa Wilcox,Mark Rupert,Mason Parker, Neal Philpott,Phil Juttelstad,Shannon Covington, Stephen Takacs, and Sue Allen mingled with visitors as a few snowflakes fell outside.  

Thanks also to our sponsors for the Mt. Hood reception--the Portland Water Bureau and Sandy Chamber of Commerce. This project would not have been possible without the cooperation of Portland General Electric Company and its amazing staff.  See all three of our powerhouse collections at artcontemplatesindustry.com.  


In order to restore historic fish runs to the Sandy River and its upper tributaries, Portland General Electric recently decommissioned Bull Run Powerhouse, removed Marmot Dam, and drained Roslyn Lake, which had served as the man-made “forebay” for hydropower generation at Bull Run. Since the plant is no longer producing power, PGE has been working to sell the facility into new ownership that will include stewardship of the history of the property and the structures located there.

Click on image for more information.The 1912 concrete powerhouse at Bull Run was designed by the J.G. White Engineering Company. Stepping down to the river, it is built into the wall of the Bull Run River canyon. Multi-pane metal sash windows with decorative arched tops line the river and side elevations. A second row of small rectangular windows, also multi-pane metal sash, is located below the simple projecting cornice band. To the west, a matching ‘Transformer Building’ also dates from the original 1912 construction period and is of similar design and materials. A more modest concrete ‘machine shop,’ also apparently constructed during the initial period, is located next to the powerhouse itself.

~ George Kramer, PGE historian

Today the Bull Run Hydroelectric Project consists of a dispersed group of buildings, sites, and structures ranging in construction date from 1906-1913 through the late 1960s, including the main powerhouse, a transformer building and a machine shop.

As a creative means of documenting the site, PGE invited Willamette Falls Heritage Foundation to stage an art event there before the power plant changes ownership.