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Dynamo Pond Restoration Project



Photo of Dynamo Pond and Dam

Dynamo Pond was home to the first hydroelectric power plant in the Eastern Sierra which supplied power for Bodie, a then very famous gold mining town. Thomas Leggett, superintendent of the Standard Company, obtained James Cainís backing and proceeded on his theory that electricity could be transmitted over wires from a distance. In 1892, Dynamo Pond and its powerhouse about a half mile below were built for hydroelectric power that could develop 6,600 volts and 130 horsepower. By November of 1892, hydroelectric power was generated and transmitted to the Standard Consolidated Mill at Bodie, a distance of 13 miles. Prior to this time, electric power had been used solely at its point of generation; this was the first time it had been transmitted any distance. The lines were installed in a straight line, as it was feared the electricity would not be able to turn corners. News of this engineering breakthrough spread clear around the world, and the engineers soon received requests to build similar hydroelectric plants from as far away as Rhodesia and Australia.

Photo of tire tracks across meadow
Photo taken in 2002

The Standard Company was the first mine to operate an electric hoist in Bodie. The foundations and other relics of the old Dynamo Pond powerhouse, and a few power poles can yet be seen in the vicinity of Green Creek or along the old alignment going into the Bodie Hills.


The problems that were occurring around Dynamo Pond unfortunately are problems that often occur on public lands and generally need management changes to be fixed. The two major problems that occurred in the area were vehicle impacts on the meadow and camping within 100 feet of water.


Photo of improperly built fire ring in campsite
Photo taken in 2002


Vehicles had been driving across the meadow and parking along the bank of the pond. Meadow ecosystems are not only valued by humans but are home to many wildlife species.

Camping farther then 100' (30 meters) from the water should be standard practice for campers and is a rule of thumb under the Leave No Trace ethics. Removal or compaction of vegetation and soil near the stream could cause bank deterioration or sloughing during storm events. In this particular case, the fire pit was established under lodge pole pine trees seen in the picture to the left and the branches in the canopy had been singed. Multiple roads were also being created by vehicles in order to access this campsite.

This project was done in coordination with the California Fish and Game. The Fish and Game used a backhoe to rip a parallel road and block the access down to the pond. Road ripping aerates and loosens the soil which facilitates seed germination. Road ripping also provides a medium that allows for easier digging and transplanting of plants. The appearance of the road after ripping looks rough which can detour people from driving and walking on the site.

Restoration work in progress
Photo taken in 2002

We provided access to the pond by creating a trail down one of the tire tracks which led to the pond. We also fixed an existing trail which could be used to access the campsite from a parking area. Finally, we used vertical mulching to camouflage roads that were closed and areas that were disturbed. Vertical mulching also adds litter to the soil which holds the soil in place during wind events and provides a moist microsite which enhances plant survivorship.

We installed a bulletin board and posted signs that talked about the history of Dynamo Pond, camping regulations, and the restoration project. The restoration sign read, "There are many groups of people that use the Dynamo Pond area; fisherman, hunters, bird watchers, campers, hikers, and historians. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the California Department of Fish and Game have the difficult job of conserving the resources that make the area special, and at the same time they have to make sure that people of many diverse interests and viewpoints, have freedom of access to enjoy Dynamo Pond. Management must also account for the expected recreational pressure on the east side of the Sierra due to the projected population growth in Nevada and California.

The meadow area surrounding the pond is very fragile and contains a diversity of plant species that are host to insects and wildlife. No vehicle access to the ponds bank is allowed. This is to protect the meadow and help re-establish plant species. Vegetation around the pond armors the banks which buffers the system from catastrophic events (i.e. floods)."

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