Cushman Hydro Project
Cushman No. 1 Dam was one of the first major dams in the Pacific Northwest. It was symbolically activated in 1926 when President Calvin Coolidge pressed a button in the White House during a ceremony to energize the project.
Located on the North Fork of the Skokomish River near Hood Canal, the dam is 275 feet high and 1,111 feet long and generates enough electricity for about 9,000 homes. The dam created Lake Cushman.
Just downstream is Cushman No. 2 Dam, which was completed in 1930, and formed the 150-acre Kokanee Lake. The dam is 235 feet high above bedrock and 575 feet long. Its powerhouse sits several miles below the dam, overlooking Hood Canal along U.S. Highway 101. The dam generates enough electricity to power more than 16,000 homes.
Electricity moves from the Cushman Hydro Project to Tacoma on a 40-mile-long transmission line. Stretching the line across the Tacoma Narrows in 1926 was a notable engineering achievement at the time. It spans more than a mile and a quarter between towers in Tacoma and Gig Harbor. The original all-steel conductors were replaced with steel reinforced aluminum conductors in 2007.
- Project Licensing
All four of our hydroelectric projects are licensed separately by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which was created by the Federal Power Act to ensure safe and efficient operation of power plants across the U.S. Many other agencies, tribes, organizations and stakeholders are also an important part of the licensing process.
In 2010, FERC amended the Cushman Hydroelectric Project license issued in 1998 to include the terms of a settlement agreement that Tacoma Power and other government agencies signed with the Skokomish Tribal Nation in January 2009. The license allows Tacoma Power to operate the Cushman Hydro Project until 2048.
- Settlement Agreements
On Jan. 12, 2009, Tacoma Power, the Skokomish Tribal Nation and state and federal agencies signed a settlement agreement that resolved a $5.8 billion damages claim and long-standing disputes over the terms of an extended license for the Cushman Hydroelectric Project. For details, see the information below:
- Fish and Wildlife Programs and Public Recreation
Along with generating clean, renewable electricity, our FERC license includes mandates for:
- Protecting more than 2,700 acres of healthy habitat for elk, deer, eagles, osprey, wood ducks and a variety of other wildlife.
- Public recreation at Lake Cushman, a 4,010-acre reservoir located on the southwestern border of Olympic National Park. The lake has kokanee and cutthroat trout, making it a popular destination for anglers.
- Public recreation at Lake Kokanee.
- Learn more about our programs for Cushman fisheries and wildlife and recreation.
- Take a Tour
Free group tours of the Cushman Hydro Project facilities are available by appointment for school, civic, business and recreational groups during regular working hours. Tour groups meet at the Cushman Powerhouse No. 2, located on Highway 101 near the town of Potlatch, south of Hoodsport.
To make arrangements for a tour, please complete our request form.
Cushman No. 1 Dam
- Year completed – 1926
- River system – North Fork, Skokomish River
- Original investment – $4.36 million
- Type of dam – concrete arch/gravity and embankment
- Height – above riverbed, 235 feet; above bedrock, 275 feet
- Length – 1,111 feet
- Width – top, 8 feet; base, 50 feet
- Volume of concrete in dam – 90,000 cubic yards
- Average flow – 845 cubic feet/second
- Drainage area – 94 square miles
- Reservoir length – 9.6 miles
- Miles of shoreline – 23 miles
- Reservoir area at maximum elevation – 4,010 acres
- Reservoir elevation – full, 738 feet; lowest allowable, 615 feet
- Average annual generation – 127 million kilowatt-hours
- Equivalent number of NW homes served – 9,000
- Number of generators – two 21,600 kilowatt generators
- Installed capacity (nameplate rating) – 43,200 kilowatts
Cushman No. 2 Dam
- Year completed – 1930
- River system – North Fork, Skokomish River
- Original investment – $8.23 million
- Type of dam – concrete arch/gravity
- Height – above riverbed, 175 feet; above bedrock, 235 feet
- Length – 575 feet
- Width – top, 8 feet; base, 40 feet
- Volume of concrete in dam – 38,000 cubic yards
- Average flow – 852 cubic feet/second
- Drainage area – 100 square miles
- Reservoir length – 2 miles
- Miles of shoreline – 4.5 miles
- Reservoir area at maximum elevation – 150 acres
- Reservoir elevation – full, 480 feet; lowest allowable, 460 feet
- Average annual generation – 233 million kilowatt-hours
- Equivalent number of NW homes served – 16,500
- Number of generators – three 27,000 kilowatt generators
- Installed capacity (nameplate rating) – 81,000 kilowatts
- Latest News
Get information about the refill status for Lake Cushman for the 2019 recreation season.
- Snowpack is down to 25% of normal.
- Average Cushman inflows between February and May were the lowest on record.
Learn more about Washington state’s drought emergency declaration.