Monday, July 19, 2010

We Call This Home

Twenty-Four years ago I moved to Colstrip. Laurence was already here. He had been hired for a job that they said would keep him here for 2 1/2 - 3 years. Needless to say, we never expected to be here 24 years later. Colstrip is a unique community. A company town. Although it was established in 1924, it was not incorporated until 1998. There are basically 2 employers; the power plant and the coal mine plus supporting services. The power plant employs about 330 people and the mine about 400.
When driving to Colstrip the stacks from the power plant are the first thing you see from several miles out. It's a view I have definately come to LOVE!
Last Friday, my friend Kit and I went on a tour of the power plant. It was a first for both of us.
The first thing we saw was this to-scale model of the plant. When the plant was built they didn't have auto-cad and this was what they used. It cost $1 million just for the model. (Definately a job for the person still addicted to their Legos!!) They even have scale sized people in it.
The plant is the second-largest coal-fired plant west of the Mississippi. And is capable of producing up to 2,094 megawatts. It is owned jointly by PPL Montana, Puget Sound Energy Inc, NorthWestern Energy, Portland General Electric, Avista Corp, and PacifiCorp. Who knows? Perhaps your power comes from my backyard.
It actually consists of 4 power plants, Units 1, 2, 3 and 4. The shorter ones are units 1 & 2, they were built in the early '70's.
Coal comes to the power plant from the Rosebud Mine. The Rosebud Mine is an open-pit mine and is where Laurence works. Coal for units 3 & 4 comes to the mine via a 4-mile long covered conveyor belt.
Coal for units 1 & 2 is trucked there.
Units 3 & 4 were built in the mid-80's. Their stacks are 692' tall. The stacks for units 1 & 2 are 507' tall.
The plants use an average of 1 train carload of coal every 5 minutes.
The coal is immediately pulverized to a very, very fine powder-- more burning surface.
Things have changed so much over the years. The controllers truly control things from huge computer banks. WOW!
This picture was take from about the 10th floor of the plant. It was such a relief to be outside. Inside was about 120°. They told us that further up it was about 150°, which was why they cancelled that part of the tour.
Two of the cooling towers. The steam goes into the turbines, turns into water as it cools. From there to the cooling towers. Guess what it does there???? You got it..... it cools.More cooling. The water goes to a series of ponds, before going back into the plant and being turned into steam once again to turn the turbines to make electricity.
Kit and I inside the plant.
I do love Colstrip. It is definately home!However, I do look forward to the next chapter of our lives that hopefully will include a WalMart closer than 125 miles, a stake center in my own town (as opposed to 125 miles), a temple down the street (ours is 130 miles), a dentist that is closer than 125 miles..... you get the picture!! But I will miss many things here as well.


  1. (giggle) And here I told Chris we need to move to a place that doesn't have a Walmart! Looked it up and Wy has ONLY 8. Thought it was perfect! Should have looked up Montana too. You are right, by the time, we get finished her in KY and move out west, you all will be headed this way.

    Looks like a great day excersion! Very Fun!

  2. I love touring plants and factories! What a fun day. So will you be moving on with life before I ever make it to Colestip someday?

  3. What a fun thing to go and do. (i have never toured the Boeing plant and it is right here in my town) Maybe I'll talk Sheri into going with me as she has not seen it either.

  4. I love the hardhats and goggles. It's a good look for you! :)


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