Woman recalls the hydroelectric power plant her father built in 1922

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15 Responses to “Woman recalls the hydroelectric power plant her father built in 1922”

  1. Bilsko says:

    Wow – the little hook for Ford’s vision of a decentralized manufacturing setup is really intriguing.  I wonder if the idea was ever implemented at all ( in the context of distributed power systems, I mean)

    • I’ve never heard of him doing anything like that, but I’m no expert on Fordlandia. It would really be interesting to know more. I agree! 

      • wizardru says:

        Ford had some grand schemes for distributing his labor, the main problem with them being that he expected people to voluntarily sacrifice to adapt to his weird vision of a very non-industrial industrialized future.  He wanted to control everything from soup-to-nuts, which is how Fordlandia came to be.  
        Greg Grandin’s book on the subject is a fascinating study, as it discusses a lot of Ford’s vision for America and the production line.  Ford shared a lot in common with Disney, for example: he was very socially forward when it suited him and tyrannical when it didn’t.

    • Preston Sturges says:

      Sounds rather Maoist, doesn’t it?

      • rndmtim says:

         And Jeffersonian.

        • ferd says:

          Ah, Tommy wasn’t as big on the “make a buck, rule the world thing” as Ford.  Can’t think of an instance of TJ ordering plant guards to open fire on picketing workers.  Maybe feudalism with a conscience. 

  2. Offlogic says:

    My grandfather told tales about when the “rich” family in town (a day’s ride north from Hot Springs, AR)  got carbide gas (acetylene) lighting installed. People came from miles around by horse or mule to see the amazing new lighting progress.   
    When electrification finally reached that neck of the woods in the late ’30s/early ’40s people were concerned about it ‘leaking’ out of empty light sockets.

    • Preston Sturges says:

      I saw an old hardware store that still had the carbide light fixtures in place with tiny ceramic burners.  The gas was generated in a central tank, like a miners lamp, and then sent through the house in pipes. I’d be little concerned that a tank of acetylene could detonate with considerable force.

  3. sam1148 says:

    I think the ‘don’t turn the lights off’ thing comes from older style light bulbs, which were best left on for longer life. Even modern incandescent bulbs point of failure is when you when turn them on.  CFL bulbs will also lose life span each time they’re cycled.

    • BkWdsDrftr says:

      It’s not the light bulbs. It’s because of the design of the generating plant. Basically, the generator must always have an electrical load to work against so it doesn’t over-speed. If a fuse were to blow and the entire system get disconnected from the generator thus removing the load, it would be very important for the water flow to the turbine to shut down immediately. But they may have accepted some extra risk just to keep the system simple. It would be nice to know more about what kind of control devices were put in at this power plant. As for the lifespan of old bulbs, the same being true for newer – what kills a bulb is thermal expansion of the filament itself every time it is turned on. A complete heat stress cycle will include being turned off. Then the filament on cooling, will contract. This is very similar to bending a piece of metal back & forth until it breaks except that bending in one direction will also include getting the metal a lot hotter which adds to the stress. That extra stress is why the bulb will fail on being turned on, instead of sometimes failing when turned off.

  4. Bilsko says:

    @Offlogic
    Reading your comment on your grandfather’s recolections reminded me of one my grandfather told me.My family is from Argentina – Gigena: http://g.co/maps/ntw34  – and back in the 40s & 50s, the town had a single generating plant near the train tracks. I imagine it was just a diesel-fired engine or a very basic steam setup with some type of flywheel (I image something like these, only a bit smaller: http://www.practicalmachinist.com/vb/antique-machinery-history/steam-engine-flywheels-112618/ )Apparently one night the guy who was supposed to keep an eye on things didn’t show up or was drunk or something, because as my grandfather tells it, the flywheel (a huge piece of iron) ended up being projected up out of the building, and landing in someone’s yard a good distance away.

  5. Michael says:

    “Unfortunately, this video is not available in Germany because it may contain music for which GEMA has not granted the respective music rights.”

    Thank you GEMA, its fantastic how you make yourself friends!

  6. baden says:

    First:  Pure awesomesauce.  This is what you-tube was made for.  Second.  WTF!  I live in Germany and I am not allowed to watch this video because of 10 seconds of (probably public domain) music?!  After loggin in via a VPN I was able to watch this wonderful clip.  However, despite the feel-good recording of… the ‘songs of the day, the old songs’– I am left crushed.  In what world should this amazing story of true pioners of maker spirt, people that made the smallest power plant of it’s time, be locked out.. and all due to f@ü€king BS music rights ‘infringement’?!  BLAM say I.

    Still, for a brief moment, I felt as if I was sitting in the room with one of the coolest grandmas ever.  Her mind was sharp and I can only thank the author for sharing.

  7. BkWdsDrftr says:

    Next door to a friends place is an old dam that was built before his grandfather bought their property in 1948.  The neighbor there had installed a tiny power generator which was the very first source of electricity in the entire county(Mason county, Washington State). It only powered one household, which was also built with poured concrete walls & floor for the basement level, this back when everyone else were living in log cabins. The house is still standing and still in very good condition. But the power plant is long gone. There was also a self-powered water pump to supply water to the fields for cattle and irrigation. The pump is still there, but no longer working. The dome on top is broken, so it’s not likely to ever get fixed. My friends grandparents  were there before the post office, they got PO Box number one the very day the post office opened, and still have it in their name.

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