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Chalk Hill Hydroelectric Facility

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1927, Holland, Ackerman and Holland, engineers; Sieme, Helmers and Schaffner, builders. Menominee River just north of County Rd. K and Chalk Hill Rd.
  • (Photograph by Mark Fay, courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society)

This hydroelectric facility celebrates the presumed power of humans to harness nature to their ends. A plaque inside the powerhouse pays tribute to those who, with science and technology, “produced these monuments of beauty & power for the benefit & comfort of man.” In an era when an engineer seemed almost like a modern Hercules, creating monumental dams and channeling electricity, the Chicago engineers gave the powerhouse Gothic features, notably the pointed-arched windows outlined by compound arches and a brick drip molding that rhythmically punctuate the reddish brick walls, which rise above a reinforced-concrete foundation. The interior evokes church architecture with amber, blue, and pink light streaming through stained glass windows and splashing on the glazed brick walls. Beamed ceilings, ornate wall sconces, mosaic floors, and art glass windows create an almost reverential atmosphere for the three large hydroelectric generators, manufactured by Allis-Chalmers of Milwaukee (they were automated in 1983).

The structure spans the Menominee River just above Rosebush Lake. A 300-foot-long, reinforced-concrete spillway extends from the powerhouse, connecting to the west bank of the river by an earthen embankment approximately 460 yards long. Electric hoists operate eleven Tainter gates, 12 feet high and twice as wide. A fish chute at the end of the spillway is no longer operational. Northern Electric Company constructed this facility in conjunction with the White Rapids Hydroelectric Plant, located 2.5 miles downstream.

Writing Credits

Marsha Weisiger et al.


What's Nearby


Marsha Weisiger et al., "Chalk Hill Hydroelectric Facility", [Amberg, Wisconsin], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Wisconsin

Buildings of Wisconsin, Marsha Weisiger and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2017, 324-325.

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