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James Henry Devereaux

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Biography

James Henry Devereaux was a mining engineer in Aspen, Colorado, who helped build the world’s first electric-powered hard rock mine hoist in 1887. Working with Clarence Doolittle, the manager of Aspen’s Roaring Fork Electric Light and Power Company, and Frank Sprague, Devereaux designed a hoist that allowed for deep rock silver mining up to one thousand feet below the surface. It ran on hydroelectric power, making it one of the first large-scale commercial uses of electricity generated by water. This plant was soon extended, and the electricity generated by the larger system made Aspen the first city west of the Mississippi River to have electric street lights fueled by hydropower. In 1888, two Japanese engineers visited Devereaux and learned how to build a comparable system in Keage, Kyoto, which was the first hydroelectric plant in Japan.

Further Reading

Aspen Historical Society, History: The Hydropower Pioneers (2009)

Bunpei Takagi, "The Kindness of Mr. Devereaux," May 27, 1894.