The Electrical Contractor Network

ECN Electrical Forum
Discussion Forums for Electricians, Inspectors and Related Professionals

Books, Tools and Test Equipment for Electrical and Construction Trades

Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 >
Topic Options
Rate This Topic
#152460 - 04/22/05 08:15 PM 1898 Hydro Plant
Admin Online   content


Registered: 10/07/00
Posts: 3187
Loc: NY, USA
FYI here is a local hydro electric plant, it is totally underground, built in 1898 and is still 100% operational. Its the least expensive plant that Puget Sound Energy operates, cost is about 1 penny for KW hour.

- Tom Baker
Top of falls. Hydroplant is 270 feet below:

Built in 1898:

Total of 5 horizontal generators
Walls are hewn basalt rock:

This DC generator creates the field:

Wheels on top are set to brass contacts which change field voltage. Panels are made from marble:

Fan controller - Note rock walls
Speed set via handle:

Super Rod Cable Installation Tools

Super Rod Cable Rod System
Super Rod Cable Rod System -
Best Product of the Last 50 Years by members of NICEIC

#152461 - 04/22/05 08:26 PM Re: 1898 Hydro Plant
Admin Online   content


Registered: 10/07/00
Posts: 3187
Loc: NY, USA
It was built in 1898
It is totally underground, 270 feet below Snoqualmine falls
Capacity is about 11,900 kW
All the turbines were lowered into the chamber via an elevator
The rotor creates the power, the field is on the stator, modern generators are the opposite.
This generator power is via brushes at 1,000 volts. The plant will be modernized in a few years and the old equipment removed.

Its hard to see in the pictures but the generator room is painted basalt rock, not concrete lined.
see Brochure (450k file)
picture of a picture, showing the first high voltage line run over the Cascade Mountains, 1927 I believe over Snoqualime Pass

- Tom Baker

#152462 - 05/08/05 02:40 PM Re: 1898 Hydro Plant
pauluk Offline

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
I still find myself somewhat in awe at the design and work that went into building places like this a century ago.

There's so much push these days for "renewable" energy sources, and here our forefathers built a wonderful plant like this which has been providing electricity from natural energy for over a hundred years.

#152463 - 05/15/05 05:19 PM Re: 1898 Hydro Plant
xGROMx Offline

Registered: 01/30/05
Posts: 21
Loc: Manteo, NC
I second that, everyting that is designed in our time now, seems to only last only a few years yet this was built 100 years ago and is running perfect. If only we could take the time in building such a design now it would end alot of problems there are present.

#152464 - 07/04/05 04:09 PM Re: 1898 Hydro Plant
mvpmaintman Offline

Registered: 09/15/03
Posts: 113
Loc: Manhattan, Kansas, USA
Most people don't want to invest the time in doing that kind of work anymore. Unfortunately the get it done and go on mind has taken over.

Some of the work done in the 20s and 30s was funded by the WPA or similar organizations, as my uncle used to say "I got two dollars a day because I was the foreman, but everybody else was just as happy to one dollar a day."

#152465 - 07/18/05 07:38 PM Re: 1898 Hydro Plant
trollog Offline

Registered: 10/02/04
Posts: 273
Loc: San Diego California USA
Sadly we live in the era of the "fast buck". No one thinks more than a year down the road. Used to be that Europe was better about this than the Americans, but it seems that lately even the Euros are sliding into the US mentality more and more. Oh well, guess thats what museums are good for.....

#152466 - 07/22/05 08:06 AM Re: 1898 Hydro Plant
Alan Belson Offline

Registered: 03/23/05
Posts: 1801
Loc: Mayenne N. France
The biggest fiasco of modern times has to be the Milennium Dome, built in London England to commermorate er.... well whatever.
This was little more than a giant plastic tent, the roof fabric of which only had a design life of 25 years. In practice it started to disintegrate after 1 year. The cost to the British taxpayer/charities* was over US$2,000,000,000!
Our population is 60 million - you do the math!
*A lot of the cash came from 'Lottery' money earmarked for so-called 'good causes'.

ps. The whole sorry mess is now effectively scrap.

[This message has been edited by Alan Belson (edited 07-22-2005).]
Wood work but can't!

#152467 - 09/23/06 01:17 PM Re: 1898 Hydro Plant
Albert Offline

Registered: 08/16/06
Posts: 76
Loc: Falls Church, VA
I just came across this thread, and found it really fascinating. I'd never heard of that particular plant.

In my limited experience, hydroelectric plants are good places to see old equipment, because most hydro sites were developed long ago.

An especially interesting aspect of these plants are the turbine governors, which are sometimes the original electro-mechanical-hydraulic units. These intricate servomechanisms provided precise speed regulation, controlling powerful hydraulic cylinders to operate the wicket gates.

#152468 - 09/24/06 05:45 AM Re: 1898 Hydro Plant
steve ancient apprentice Offline

Registered: 03/04/05
Posts: 170
Loc: west springfield,mass
Have seen these pictures before, my only comment,


#152469 - 09/24/06 08:12 AM Re: 1898 Hydro Plant
trobb Offline

Registered: 06/08/06
Posts: 111
Loc: Iowa City, IA
I have an interesting idea. Back before calculators engineers often were less certain of figures than today, so it was not unsual to add 10% (or so) to most figures. To me (today) it seems that 10% is what causes a lot of old buildings to stay standing while a lot of the "enough to get by" buildings of today fail early. Just a thought.

Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 >

ECN Electrical Forums - sponsored by Electrical Contractor Network - Electrical and Code Related Discussion for Electrical Contractors, Electricians, Inspectors, Instructors, Engineers and other related Professionals