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SCHENECTADY DIGITAL HISTORY ARCHIVE

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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Chapter 97: Mohawk River Water Power — 1895-1925.

[This information is from Vol. II, pp. 1403-1421 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. Some images have been relocated to the area in the text where they are discussed. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

Contents | Biographies | Illustrations | Maps | Portraits

Go back to: Chapter 96 | ahead to: Chapter 98

Early water power development — 1811, Cohoes Manufacturing Co. — 1833, Herkimer Manufacturing and Hydraulic Co. — Amsterdam development on the Chuctanunda, 1848, 1855, 1865, 1875 — First Mohawk Valley hydro-electric plant at Dolgeville, 1897 — Colonial Dutch and English navigable stream laws — Mohawk Valley power companies — Cohoes Power and Light Corporation — Fulton County Gas and Electric Company — Utica Gas and Electric Company — Adirondack Power and Light Corporation — Its Amsterdam steam plant — Rotterdam Power Center — Conklingville Dam and Sacandaga Lake Reservoir — Mohawk Valley water storage and control system — Valley great super power system — 160,800 horsepower produced in Mohawk Valley hydro-electric plants in 1925.

The story of water power on the Mohawk River is the story of the development of the valley of the Mohawk itself.

The early Dutch settlers at first took up their abode around the old trading port at Albany and began working their way westward at a very early date. The rapids of the river were dammed at various points to meet the demands of the times and the power of the water was used for grinding the grains of the early inhabitants. Then they began using the power for grist, flour and saw mills, and from that time on it has been an evolution which brings it down to the present day of efficient hydro-electric development.

The first water power development and the first mill in the Mohawk Valley were constructed by Sweer Teunise Van Velsen, on Mill Lane Kill in Schenectady in 1666. In 1673, high water carried away this first mill and a new one was built. In 1924, part of this second old mill formed a portion of a barn in the rear of Burger's store on State Street in the city of Schenectady.

Rising in the lower part of Lewis County, near the Oneida County line, the Mohawk and the Lansing Kill come together at Hillside. Above Hillside both branches flow through a mountainous section, but there are very few settlements and no water powers of any importance on either.

At a point about five miles above Rome, the banks of the river narrow into a deep gorge where the State has built a dam 1,100 feet long with a spillway 300 feet long near its center and a masonry content of about 90,000 cubic yards. Its height is a hundred feet from crest to lowest foundation. The reservoir has an area at crest level of four and one-third square miles. The actual greatest depth is 70 feet with an average of 23 feet and the capacity of the reservoir is 2,750,000,000 cubic feet. The vast reservoir was created for the purpose of supplying water for the Rome Summit of the Barge Canal, and the water is conducted by a diversion canal. Water is also conducted into this reservoir from the Black River, which empties into Lake Ontario near Watertown, by means of a diversion canal which was originally constructed for the old Erie Canal.

The effect of this diversion into the Rome Summit of the canal is to carry part of the waters of the upper 137 square miles of watershed drainage area of the Mohawk into Oswego River and Lake Ontario. There is no power at this dam although its future development is possible.

The water supply for the Barge canal development in the Mohawk River section, is further augmented by a dam at Hinckley Lake on West Canada Creek, where the waters are diverted through a canal 5.7 miles long from Trenton Falls into Nine-Mile Creek, where it flows by natural stream to the Barge Canal at a point near Oriskany. The watershed of Hinckley Reservoir is 372 square miles and the reservoir has a storage capacity of 3,445,000,000 cubic feet. There is [1924] no power plant at this reservoir, but at Trenton Falls, about five miles below the dam, is a plant of the Utica Gas & Electric Company, which is described in subsequent pages:

From Hillside the Mohawk Valley opens out and the flow of the river is rather sluggish past Rome, Oriskany, Whitesboro, Utica and Herkimer to Little Falls, where the gorge narrows and a natural water power site attracted some of the early settlers, and where power plants are now in operation.

From Little Falls there was very little drop in the stream until it passed Schenectady. Below Schenectady, at Green Island, near Visscher's Ferry, there was a natural rapids which is now the site of a dam that backs the water to a point west of Schenectady. A state power house is being built [1924] at this dam to develop 8,000 horsepower.

Farther down the stream was another rapids where the Crescent dam and a State power house are located, being known as Lock No. 6. Here a power plant of 8,000 horsepower is being erected [1924].

At Cohoes the river drops abruptly in a high falls, of about 70 feet in descent, and from that point on to the confluence of the Mohawk with the Hudson, opposite Troy, there were several places where the old settlers built small dams and established mills to make their flour.

The branches of the Mohawk have been also used for power from the earliest times. Beginning at the lower end of the Mohawk and working back, we find the Chuctanunda Creek on the north side coming down from the hills above the city of Amsterdam, the Schoharie River rising in the Catskills on the south and flowing into the Mohawk just above Amsterdam. At Middleburg on the Schoharie, there is a small water and steam plant and a water power plant in Gilboa. The City of New York has built a dam at Gilboa which takes one-third of the drainage area and one-half of the water of Schoharie River, and conducts this water through an eighteen mile tunnel to its great domestic water supply reservoir created by the construction of the Ashokan dam.

In 1833, the Herkimer Manufacturing and Hydraulic Co. was incorporated with a capital of $100,000. The object of this organization was the building of a dam across the West Canada Creek about two miles above its outlet into the Mohawk River at Herkimer. About $40,000 was expended on this work which is located at the present (1924) northern limits of Herkimer. Nearly the whole volume of the ordinary flow of the creek was impounded in an artificial body of water, which gives a head of 37 feet. Hardin's "History of Herkimer County" [i.e., George Anson Hardin, History of Herkimer County, New York] says: "It was calculated by the engineer that this canal would produce power equivalent to what would be required to run 138 runs of 54 inch mill stones. While it can scarcely be said that this project has met the expectations of its more sanguine projectors, yet it has been of great importance to the village, and, within the past ten years, has been still more extensively utilized in supplying power to the numerous manufacturing enterprises that have been started, to the great benefit of the community." Since the foregoing was written in 1893, the industrial development of Herkimer has been remarkable and the "Hydraulic Canal" has been of great value in furnishing water supply to the factories located on its route. The reservoir has most picturesque surroundings and is known as Mirror Lake.

The first conservation of water power on a considerable scale in Montgomery or Fulton counties and the third large water power development in, the Mohawk Valley was accomplished by Amsterdam manufacturers. In 1848 a dam was built across the Chuctanunda above the Forest paper mill. In 1855 the Galway reservoir covering 450 acres (at Galway, Saratoga County, northeast of Amsterdam), was built. This was enlarged in 1865 and 1875 to an area of stored water of 1,000 acres. This water system has been largely responsible for the industrial importance of Amsterdam.

In the early history of the electrical development of the Capital District, a company was organized to take over from a group of promoters headed by DeWitt A. Devendorf, five power sites between Esperance and Fort Hunter, known as the Empire State Power Company. One of these sites was developed and was operated for a time, but it was damaged by a flood and never rebuilt because of the action of the City of New York in appropriating the water at Gilboa.

Next, on the north side of the Mohawk is Garoga Creek, on which is a plant owned and operated by the Fulton County Gas and Electric Company. The Creek rises in Garoga Lake on the west fork and in Peck Lake on the east fork. Peck's Lake is dammed by a concrete dam thirty feet high and is used for storage. Garoga Lake has only a small regulating dam at the outlet. Below the junction of the two branches is a dam owned by the Rockwell Manufacturing Company, where a power house will eventually be located, and below Rockwell is the plant of the Fulton County Gas and Electric Company. There are other undeveloped power sites below the Electric Company's plant, and altogether the stream is capable of producing over 20,000 horse power in a properly constructed and operated series of plants.

East Canada Creek is the next Mohawk River branch to the west of Garoga Creek and on the north side of the Mohawk. It has its principal headwaters in Canada Lake and the group of lakes which drain into it. The elevation of Canada Lake surface is 1,545 feet U. S. Geological Survey datum. This is an important power stream and will be treated more in detail under a separate heading. For the present it is sufficient to say that under the development plan of the Adirondack Power and Light Corporation, East Canada Creek is destined to become one of the most important power producing rivers of the country for its length and size.

West Canada Creek, being also on the north side of the Mohawk and west of East Canada Creek, is also an important stream for water power. It has a much greater drainage area than East Canada Creek, but artificial conditions will keep it from becoming a competitor of the East Creek as a power producer because of the diversion of the water at Trenton Falls for Barge canal use during the dry months of the year.

The Oriskany Creek which empties into the Mohawk near the village of Oriskany, although not an important power stream, has numerous small dams producing power on a small scale for local mills. At Deansboro a small plant produces electric light for the village.

Sauquoit Creek, flowing into the Mohawk at Whitesboro, also has numerous small dams where the power is used in local mills. There are no hydro-electric plants on this stream, except a very small plant at Sauquoit owned by the Adrian Knitting Company which, in addition to furnishing power to the mill, lights the village.

In the construction of the dams for the Barge Canal at Visscher's Ferry and at Crescent, the State provided for the future construction of power plants and, at the time of this writing, it is expected that they will be turning out power in 1925. Each plant is designed for 8,000 horse power. The construction of these two plants by the State puts the State into the power business. How much further it will go, no man can tell. It may be well to hesitate for a time to see how these plants work out. Without further development of headwater control works, the river is subject to serious fluctuations and in the dry season of the year there is very little flow in the river which would not be used by Barge canal lockage. The winter months, when not hindered by frost, will be the periods of operation for these plants at their full capacity. The summer output will necessarily drop to a low average, and the average must be lower as the traffic on the canal increases.

Not strictly a part of the Mohawk River but in the Hudson at its junction with the Mohawk, is a dam built by the United States Government in its control of tidewater streams where the power plant of the Ford Motor Company is located. This plant supplies most of the electric power used by the Ford Motor Company in its Green Island plant.

Perhaps no river in the country has been the source of more legal discussion than the Mohawk, except possibly the Hudson, but the two rivers have been a never ending legal tangle. In the beginning of its history, the law of the Netherlands was the law of the land. When the English took over the Dutch possessions, in 1664, it was stipulated in effect that the civil laws of the Netherlands should apply to all grants made prior to that time. Subsequent to the date of possession by the English, the common law of England was applied.

The titles granted to the original settlers in the Hudson and Mohawk valleys, as construed by the rules of the civil law prevailing in the Netherlands from whose government they were derived, did not convey to the riparian owners the banks or beds of navigable streams. Upon the surrender of the territory, the guaranty assured by the English authorities to its inhabitants, of the peaceful enjoyment of their possessions, simply confirmed the right already possessed and the beds of the navigable streams never having been conveyed, became by virtue of the rights of eminent domain, vested in the English Government as ungranted lands, and the State of New York, as a consequence of the Revolution, succeeded to the rights of the Mother Country. Section 25 of the Constitution of New York of 1777 reads: "And the convention in the name and by the authority of the good people of this State, ordain, determine and declare that such parts of the Common law of England and the Statute law of England and Great Britain and the acts of the legislature of the Colony of New York, as together did form the law of said Colony on the 19th day of April, in the year of our Lord One thousand seven hundred and seventy-five, shall be and continue the law of this State subject to such alterations and provisions as the Legislature of this State shall from time to time make concerning the same."

By the common law of England, all fresh water rivers of sufficient magnitude and capacity for navigation are public highways, and although the entire proprietary interest in them is in the riparian owners, they have such title subject to the easement of the public which can not be lawfully interrupted. But the right to the use and enjoyment of the waters for any purpose to which water or its power may be applied is appurtenant to the ownership of the adjoining land and may be so appropriated by the riparian owner subject only to such easement and to the limitation that the right of the riparian owners equally entitled to such shall not be infringed. The rule is otherwise in respect to navigable rivers as defined by common law, being otherwise described as tidal streams. There the property is in the sovereign or state and the riparian owners as against it for its use, have no proprietary interest in the waters as appurtenant to the soil owned by them on the river banks.

What is a navigable river has been discussed in many cases before the Courts. It has been quite definitely settled in New York cases, that even though the passage of the river is interrupted by falls or rapids, if the stream is naturally navigable for boats, rafts or other floats above and below the falls, the river is navigable.

The records of grants on the Mohawk by the Dutch are very incomplete, while the records made by the English are quite complete. In some of these grants the bed of the river is reserved specifically, while in many others there appears to be no reservation, and in such cases it has been contended that the bed of the river passed with the grant of the upland.

Incidental to this discussion the name of the Mohawk River appears to have been unsettled as late as 1761. In that year a grant was made to one Isaac Vrooman of Schenectady, of certain lands on the south side of the river near Visscher's Ferry, in which the river is designated the Niskayuna or Schenectady or Mohawk River. The spelling is slightly different in the original record on file in the office of the Secretary of State, but is used here as the words are spelled today.

With these facts in mind it may be noted that the question of ownership in the bed of the river was never disputed in any case of which there is any official record until after the beginning of the Canal history, when in 1792 the legislature, on the 30th of March, created the Western Inland Lock and Navigation Company. This act was amended on the 22d of December, 1792, General Laws, Vol. 3, page 13, the fifth section of which declared that "all the lands under the water in the Mohawk River which might be required by said Corporation for purposes of constructing any canal locks, dyke embankment or dam for the improvement of navigation thereof should be and thereby was vested in said Corporation and its successors as a free gift from the State, the rights to all lands under the water not so occupied as aforesaid to be appropriated as the Legislature should from time to time direct." This bill was objected to by the Council of Revision, consisting of Governor George Clinton, Chancellor Livingston, Justice Hobart and Justice Lansing, and the objection was that the third section was "a violation of private rights, in improperly appropriating lands of individuals and in not providing adequate compensation."

The 14th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States was not then in existence, but the theory was recognized by the Council of Review. The bill was unanimously passed by the Senate, save one, and by the Assembly. The Legislature entirely overrode the wise counsel of the learned members of the Council of Review.

The Erie Canal was completed in 1825, and out of this came many claims for damages. Among them the Tibbits case in the Court of Errors in 1836 (Canal Appraisers vs. Tibbits, 17 Wend. 571). The relator claimed damages should be allowed him by the Canal Appraisers for the destruction of a waterfall alleged to be his property in the Middle Sprout of the Mohawk nearly opposite the junction of the Erie and Champlain Canals by the erection of a dam across the Hudson River at the Sloop lock between Troy and Lansingburg. The case related to land originally granted under the Civil law and later, in 1704, by patent of Confirmation of the Manor of Van Rensselaerwyck.

In the Supreme Court the Chancellor in his opinion concluded that "by the patent of confirmation, granted in 1704, everything embraced within the exterior boundaries of the Manor is granted and consequently the islands in the river and the beds of the river above tide water contained within the bounds of the grant passed to the grantee, saving the public right of navigation and excepting such portions of the premises included in the patent as had been previously granted to others."

Senator Beardslee opposed the opinion of the Chancellor. In commenting on a statement made by Chief Justice Spencer in Hooker vs. Cummings, 20 Johns. R. 100, in which the Chief Justice said: "Nor do I feel myself authorized to reject the principles of the English Common law by saying that they are not suited to our conditions when I can find no trace of any judicial decision to that effect, nor any legislative declaration or provision leading to that conclusion." Senator Beardslee said "Would the learned Judge have made that remark had he not overlooked the various acts of the government and its agents that have been proved on this trial? And could he with propriety have made it in reference to the Mohawk? I feel a strong conviction that the bed of that river, at least, whatever may be said of others, is still the property of the State!" The vote in the case was 13 to 11 in favor of Senator Beardslee's contention, the Chancellor voting against the Senators. By this vote the judgment of the Supreme Court was overridden by the Senate sitting as a Court of Errors.

In one of the most recent cases, known as the Danes case, 219 N. Y. 76, Mr. Justice Collin refers in his opinion to the reasoning of Senator Beardslee and says: "The rule of the Common law of this State (that of England) that the title to the bed of navigable rivers, not tidal, passed to the grantees of adjacent lands has not heretofore applied to the grant of the banks of the Hudson and Mohawk rivers."

In all other respects the English common law is held to apply to all non-tidal streams not boundary rivers, but the doors are still open for the Supreme Court of the United States to pass upon the subject, if occasion arises, and there is a very wide difference of opinion between lawyers as to how that Court would view the question.

The fact is that most of the cases which would bring this question to the Supreme Court of the United States have been disposed of in the Courts of the State, and there is little likelihood of the question ever coming before that body. An extremely interesting discussion on the subject is to be found in the case of the Fulton Light, Heat and Power Company against the State (62 Misc. 196). This case applies to the Oswego River, but has been much discussed in all of the subsequent cases relating to the Mohawk and Hudson rivers.

The canalization of the Mohawk has changed the river's water power situation materially in many respects. It has put the State in the power business at Crescent and Visscher's Ferry and has diverted the waters of the River to canal lockage as the primary use, and its use for power purposes has been made secondary.

The Cohoes Power and Light Corporation

In 1811, Stephen Van Rensselaer conveyed to Garret Peebles, Timothy Leonard, Elijah James, Elias Parmlee, Calvin Barker, John Stewart, Ebenezer W. Walbridge, Joseph Fox, Sylvanus I. Penneman and Jacob L. Lansing, a tract of land at Cohoes Falls in the Mohawk, which was the beginning of an organization known as the Cohoes Manufacturing Company. There had been a dam across the river previous to this, and the dam was made part of the conveyance. From this beginning there were numerous manufacturing plants and mills established along the canal, and the water was used in one after the other of these mills until the lower level was reached and the water passed into the river again after a drop of some 90 feet. The present difference between levels is 96 feet.

In the early '30s the Cohoes Manufacturing Company was dissolved, and in November, 1833, the Hon. David Codwise, a Master in Chancery, sold the original and accumulated properties to the Cohoes Company. The trustees of the Cohoes Manufacturing Company, at the time of the dissolution, joined in the deed with the Master in Chancery. They were Benj. Demilt, Edward Taylor, John Sayer, Calvin Barker, Joseph Curtis, William H. Morrill and Samuel Demilt.

The Cohoes Power Company continued in existence until 1918, when the property was sold to the Cohoes Power and Light Corporation which has constructed a power plant on the river, consisting of four units, with a total capacity of 40,000 horsepower. During the present year (1924) a fifth unit of 14,000 horsepower is being installed, which will bring the total capacity up to 54,000 horsepower. The hydro-electric output of the plant for 1923 was 108,250,700 kilowatt hours. Frank McTait, of Dayton, Ohio, is (1924) President and General Manager of the Company.

The Fulton County Gas & Electric Company

The cities of Johnstown and Gloversville, the village of Fort Plain and other towns and villages in the Mohawk Valley are supplied with power generated on Garoga Creek. The power plant was built by the Mohawk Hydro-Electric Company, at Ephratah, but is now owned and operated by the Fulton County Gas and Electric Company. The power plant has a capacity of 6,650 horsepower. Storage is secured in Peck's Lake and Garoga Lake. The Rockwell Manufacturing Company owns a dam located just up stream from the plant and pond of the Fulton County Gas and Electric Co. plant, and a power plant there is projected for construction in the near future. There are other valuable power sites on the Creek, and when they are all constructed and in operation, the stream will be producing in excess of 20,000 horse power.

The hydro-electric development of Garoga Creek under the ownership of the Fulton County Gas and Electric Co., is of much public interest. This stream rises in a group of headwater lakes, of which Garoga and Peck's lakes are the most considerable. This Garoga Lake group lies to the southeast of the Canada Lake group. The Garoga empties into the Mohawk River at Palatine Bridge, three miles north-northwest of Fort Plain. Peck's Lake, or Peck's Pond, is the most southerly Adirondack lake of any size. About three miles northwest of Peck's Lake, lies Garoga Lake, which is a great pleasure resort for the people of the Middle Mohawk Valley and the most southerly lake thus developed in the Adirondack region, lying only about ten miles due north of the Mohawk River.

In 1915, the Garoga Creek hydro-electric power development was described as follows:

The reservoir system of the development consists of three considerable natural lakes and an artificial reservoir. The lakes are Peck's with an area of 1,500 acres, which is owned by the company; and East and West Garoga, with a combined area of 700 acres, from which the company has the right to draw 42 feet of water. The level of Peck's Lake has been raised 24 feet by a dam 900 feet long and 36 feet high, of arch and buttress construction. The water from both of these bodies is conveyed to the main reservoir, a distance of 12 miles, through the natural channel of Garoga Creek. This main reservoir, located at Garoga village, about two miles from the power station, has an area of 50 acres. It is formed by a concrete arch and buttress forebay dam 720 feet long, 58 feet high and having a spillway 260 feet in length.

There are two transmission lines known as the Gloversville-Johnstown and the Fort Plain lines. The former is a 10-mile, 23,000 volt line, transmitting power to the Fulton County Gas & Electric Company, which corporation serves the cities of Gloversville and Johnstown and adjacent communities. The latter is a 7-mile, 23,000 volt line, direct to the sub-station at Fort Plain.

Work on the Garoga Creek development was started in May, 1910. The Gloversville-Johnstown load was taken on in February, 1911, and the Fort Plain service inaugurated in February, 1912.

In 1924, further development of Garoga Creek was planned which would increase the total power produced by the Fulton County Gas and Electric Co.'s plant on Garoga Creek to 14,500 horsepower.

The Utica Gas and Electric Company

The Utica Gas & Electric Company owns and operates water power plants at Dolgeville, on East Canada Creek; at Little Falls on the Mohawk River, and at Trenton Falls on West Canada Creek. It also owns other power sites on West Canada Creek, at Newport and at Middleville, and at other points. Newport and Middleville are excellent natural power sites, but they are located below where the division canal takes the flow of the Creek over into the Nine Mile Creek drainage, and are therefore capable of operation only during the closed season for the canal.

The plant at Trenton Falls consists of seven units, with a total generating capacity of 35,400 horse power. The average flow of the stream at this point is 1,100 cubic feet per second, and the total head with flashboards is 272 feet. Part of this plant was built in 1900, and consisted of four units of 1,350 horsepower each. The other part of the plant was built in 1917-1918 as a war measure and consists of two units of 10,750 horsepower each and one of 8,500 horsepower.

The Cohoes Falls, Beardslee Falls (East Creek) and the Trenton Falls plants were the three leading and largest hydroelectric developments in the Mohawk Valley in 1925.

The water power plant at Little Falls, on the Mohawk River, owned by the Utica Gas and Electric Company, is a low head plant of only 1,600 horse power capacity. The average head is 17 feet, and the average flow of the river at this point is 2,650 cubic feet per second. There are three units of 533 horse power each. During low water in the river (when the Barge Canal is in operation), while the canal has never yet been used to any such extent as to require all of the low water flow of the river, it is at times under 400 cubic feet per second, or less than 500 horse power. There are other water powers at Little Falls which may eventually be joined in one plant.

The Dolgeville plant of the Utica Gas and Electric Company on East Canada Creek has a total plant capacity of 2,800 horse power and consists of three units, one of 1,600 and two of 600 each. Here a dam 17 feet high and 240 feet long diverts the water through 540 feet of 10-foot diameter penstock to a point below the falls where a head of 72 feet is created. Until the year 1924 there was practically no regulation on the creek above the Dolgeville plant, but the construction of a new concrete dam at Stewarts Landing, at the outlet of Canada Lake into East Creek, has created a regulation of the Sprite Creek branch, which will in the future serve to control the flow from the lakes and make more water available for power purposes.

The Dolgeville plant is the original hydro-electric development in the Mohawk Valley having been inaugurated in 1897. (See Chapter 132 on Hydro-Electric Development in The Upper Mohawk Valley.)

In addition to the three water power plants of the Utica Gas & Electric Company, there is a steam plant at Utica with four units and a total capacity in excess of 26,000 horsepower. The Utica Gas & Electric Company serves about forty cities, towns and villages, and has about 100 miles of high tension transmission lines and over 200 miles of pole lines. Its combined (1924) maximum power available is 65,800 horsepower, of which 39,800 is hydro-electric power and 26,000 steam plant power. (See Chapter 132, Utica Gas & Electric Co. and Hydro-Electric Development in the Upper Mohawk Valley.)

Adirondack Power and Light Corporation

Riding in the train or along the highway between the cities of Amsterdam and Schenectady, a few miles east of Amsterdam one can hardly fail to notice on the south bank of the Mohawk, the imposing structure of the steam power plant of the Adirondack Power and Light Corporation. Finished and put in operation in 1922, with a capacity of 40,000 horse power, and doubled in size in 1924 to 80,000 horse power, with plans for the future of still further additions and an ultimate extension to 300,000 horse power, it is the most beautiful steam power plant ever constructed. It was designed by the world famous architectual firm of McKim, Mead and White of New York City, the designers of some of the world's most famous modern structures.

A few miles east of this steam plant is the Rotterdam Substation, the nerve center of a system of wires leading north, south, east and west, bringing in the power from the mighty Hudson, the Hoosic, East Canada Creek and the steam plant, and sending it out to the east as far as Boston, to the west as far as Erie, Pa., and to the south almost to the gates of New York City. By interconnections already made and in process of making in the latter days of 1924, the principal power plants of New England have been joined with the plants of the Adirondack. Connections have also been made with the United Hudson Electric Co. at Poughkeepsie; the Fulton County Gas and Electric Co., at Gloversville; the Utica Gas & Electric Co., at Utica; the Municipal Gas Company, at Albany; the Cohoes Power and Light Company, at Cohoes; the Troy Gas Company, at Troy, and through the Niagara, Lockport and Ontario Power Co. to the western part of the State and the cities of Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo. Lines under construction in 1924 also connect with the southern territory operated by the New York State Gas & Electric Corporation, and extending from Ithaca, on the west, to Kingston, on the east, and from near Utica on the north to below Monticello on the south; also through this company to Binghamton. From Binghamton it is only about eighty miles to Scranton and the great anthracite coal fields.

Through the Utica Gas and Electric Company, connection is being made with the Northern New York Utilities Company at Watertown, with about 350 miles of high tension transmission lines covering the entire northwestern portion of New York State from the St. Lawrence River to Rome and from Lake Ontario to the Adirondacks.

The Niagara, Lockport and Ontario Power Co. operates transmission lines in sixteen counties in western New York. It purchases power from the Niagara Falls Power Company, on the American side, and from the Ontario Power Company on the Canadian side, owns a steam plant of 40,000 horse power at Lyons and a water power plant of 35,000 horse power at Salmon River. It also purchases the entire output of several other plants and distributes from Syracuse west to Niagara and south to Olean, New York and Bradford, Pa., and along the south shore of Lake Erie to Erie, Pa., by connection with other lines.

Thus has super-power been developing from a dream of a few short years ago to reality, and thus it will continue to grow and expand beyond the limits of the original dream until the whole United States is linked together in one great power trunk system, one of the main links of which will be the lines radiating from the great power center at Rotterdam in the Mohawk Valley.

The Adirondack Power and Light Corporation is in itself and its history a super-power system. It owns the first big water power plant constructed on the Hudson River at Spier Falls, which was begun in 1900 and put in operation in September, 1904. At about the same time its power plant near Mechanicsville, on the Hudson, was completed. It owns the power plant in Fort Ann, formerly known as Kanes Falls, but now called Ashley Falls, in honor of Eugene A. Ashley, the builder of Spier Falls and Kanes Falls, and who is sometimes referred to as the father of hydro-electric power in New York State. It also owns the important hydro-electric plants on the Hoosic River, one at Schaghticoke and one at Johnsonville, which were built about 1907-12, and three hydro-electric plants on East Canada Creek, known as Beardslee Falls, Inghams and Sprite Creek. The Inghams plant was built in 1912. The Sprite Creek plant was completed in 1924 and is operating under remote control as an automatic plant, the largest plant thus far put in operation under remote control, which means automatic operation by switches from the Inghams Mills plant without man supervision.

The Beardslee Falls plant takes the place of the pioneer hydroelectric plant of the Mohawk Valley, formerly operated near the spot for many years by the East Creek Electric Light and Power Company, owned and operated for many years by Guy R. Beardslee, for whom Beardslee Falls is now named. This great plant is situated about a mile north of the Mohawk Turnpike on East Canada Creek. When completed, the Beardslee Falls plant will take its place among the important power plants of the State, with 30,000 horse power. The Inghams Mills Power Plant is 8,000 horse power, and the Sprite Creek Plant is 6,000 horse power.

Sprite Creek is the outlet of Canada Lakes and the new concrete dam at Stewarts Landing is the starting point of a wood stave pipe line which winds for nearly four miles to a point where it joins a steel penstock, dipping sharply to the Sprite Creek Power Plant located at an advantageous spot on the stream, and where a net effective head of 370 feet is obtained. This plant enjoys the distinction of being both the first high-powered automatic plant in operation in the State, and the highest head plant and has been a matter of great interest to engineers. The net effective head at Inghams is 127 feet, and the net effective head at Beardslee Falls, when completed, will be 195 feet.

Historically and commercially, the story of hydro-electric development on the East Canada Creek is of paramount interest. It stands first in the record of hydro-electric power plants in the Mohawk Valley, because Dolgeville was the scene of the first electric power house in the Valley where the current was produced by water power. This was in 1897. At the time of the writing of this chapter in 1924, East Creek had a more complete hydroelectric development than any other stream in the Mohawk Valley. When projects then under way should be completed, the total electric power to be produced on this stream was estimated at a maximum of 46,800 horsepower.

Captain Guy R. Beardslee (born in May, 1859), a young army engineer, became interested in hydro-electric power development. He resigned from the army and devoted his energies to harnessing the water power on his property at East Creek. The first power was turned on March 17, 1898. St. Johnsville village was the first customer.

Mr. Beardslee devoted his entire time to this development. In 1912 he retired in favor of the East Creek Electric Light and Power Company, which was in 1921 taken over by the Adirondack Power and Light Corporation, and the power development carried on to a greater extent by reason of increased capitalization, but in all essential detail the development has followed the lines originally planned by Captain Beardslee and his clear vision has been amply justified.

In addition to the hydro-electric plants owned by the Adirondack Power and Light Corporation, it purchases all of the power of the 40,000 horsepower Sherman Island Plant of the International Paper Company, located just below its Spier Falls Plant on the Hudson River. This Station was completed in the latter part of 1923 and consists of four 10,000 horsepower turbines operating under an effective head of 66 feet.

The company also purchases all of the power of the Feeder Dam Plant of the Moreau Manufacturing Corporation, which is located just below the Sherman Island Plant on the Hudson, at the State Dam, which was built for the purpose of diverting the waters of the Hudson River to the summit level of the Champlain Canal.

The total hydro-electric horse power owned and operated by the Adirondack Power and Light Corporation in the summer of 1924, was approximately 95,000, under construction, 30,000. Not owned, but all the power purchased, 47,500; total hydroelectric power operated and under construction 125,000 horse power. Steam power operating 1924, 40,000; under construction, 40,000; total steam power operated and under construction in 1924, 80,000 horse power. Total, with construction work completed, over 250,000 horse power, of which 44,000 hydro-electric and 80,000 steam power will be produced in the Mohawk Valley, with the completion of developments under way in 1924.

The company also owns the dam site and land below it on the Sacandaga Branch of the Hudson River, most of which was acquired as far back as 1906. The River Regulating District of the Hudson River now proposes the construction of a dam at Conklingville which will create a pondage in excess of twenty-five billion cubic feet of water, and which will be used to catch the flood waters of the drainage area of the Sacandaga. It will serve, in a large measure, to prevent the flood conditions which have menaced the Hudson Valley in the past, and this water, let down during the dry season, will make possible the production of more power during the dry seasons to the great advantage of the Hudson and Mohawk valleys. It will take care of the increased traffic on the barge canal, and by maintaining a stronger flow in the stream, will prevent accumulations of filth and other unhealthy conditions. It will also create a new source of hydro-electric supply at the Conklingville Dam. It will thereby advance the industrial and material welfare of the whole State, but particularly the Mohawk Valley and the Capitol District.

The Adirondack Power and Light Corp. supplies and distributes all of the commercial electric power used in Whitehall, Fort Ann, Fort Edward, Hudson Falls, Glens Falls, Saratoga, Ballston Spa, Schaghticoke, Johnsonville, Watervliet, Schenectady, Amsterdam, St. Johnsville, Oneida and Canastota, and many smaller towns and villages. It supplies all of the power used in Troy, and distributed retail by the Troy Gas Company. It supplies the power used by the New York State Railways from Little Falls to Utica and Rome, and as far west as Syracuse, also to the Hudson Valley Railroad, the United Traction Co. of Albany and Troy and the Schenectady Railways Co. It supplies much of the power used in the Capital District and distributed by the local companies. It supplies the local company at Mechanicville, and through a subsidiary, the Kanes Falls Electric Company, it supplies power to the Granville Company, and through Granville to the quarries in Vermont, just across the State line from Granville. In 1923 the company sold 322,061,000 kilowatt hours of power against 245,000,000 in 1922, and 193,000,000 in 1921. The per cent of increase in demand for electric power in its territory exceeded the average throughout the United States by about five per cent.

The possibility of using the waters of the Mohawk for generating power at the numerous locks occurs to many in passing these great engineering works, and the question is often asked why it can not be so used. The reason is that, except at Cohoes, Crescent, Visscher's and Little Falls, the fall is not enough to compensate for the cost of installation of power plants, and, with this thought in mind, the various dams were constructed so that they might be lifted out when canal operations ceased and allow free passage for winter flood waters and ice which would otherwise be great sources of danger and damage. While the canal season is on, these dams actually do produce the power necessary for the operation of most of the locks through small but adequate hydro-electric power plants located at the locks.

The total hydro-electric power of the Mohawk Valley constructed or under construction in 1924, is as follows:

Mohawk River, Main ChannelHorse Power
Cohoes Power and Light Corporation54,000
Crescent Dam (owned by State)8,000
Visscher's Ferry Dam (owned by State)8,000
Little Falls (Utica Gas & Electric)1,600
Garoga Creek
Fulton County Gas & Electric7,000
East Canada Creek
Sprite Creek (Adir. Pr. and Lt. Corp.)6,000
Dolgeville (Utica Gas & Electric2,800
Inghams (Adir. Pr. and Lt. Corp.)8,000
Beardslee Falls (Adir. Pr. and Lt. Corp.)30,000
West Canada Creek
Trenton Falls (Utica Gas & Electric)35,400
 
Total for the watershed, exclusive of small dams where power is used locally160,800

These constitute the bulk of the possibilities for all-the-year operations. There are several important sites on the East and West Canada creeks, some of which may be developed as all-the-year power sites, and others (on West Canada Creek) are only part time sites (being below the diversion canal). The Visscher's Ferry Plant and the Crescent plant will be part time plants subject to the needs of the canal.

The plants of recent construction are being built to use the ultimate possibilities of the streams. Some of the older plants may be remodeled or reconstructed, to produce a much greater amount of power for a shorter time in the twenty-four hours of the day. The working day in industry is the period of greatest use of power and usually consists of the daylight working period of from 7 A. M. to 5 or 6 P. M. If the water can be controlled so that it will not be let down during what the engineers call the off-peak periods, and all let down during the nine or ten hours of peak load, it would be able at one time to create about 2 1/2 times as much power in nine or ten hours as the same water could create at one time if spread over the twenty-four hours. For this reason engineers figure on reservoirs for storing the flood waters to get an absolute control of the flow and figure on the steam plants or hydro plants where river control is not possible by storage, for the base loads. Therefore, as it becomes possible in the future to create storage reservoirs, it will become possible to create larger power plants. It would be difficult now to estimate what the ultimate water power plant capacity of the Mohawk watershed may be, for the reason that even though it were possible to control the flow of the streams absolutely, the cost of such control might be so great that it would not become profitable from the standpoint of power alone. It might be possible to make it profitable if the storage were to be needed in the operation of the Barge Canal. At present an engineering study of river control is being made by Mr. Frank M. Williams, former state engineer, and much will depend upon the results of his study.

The Adirondack Power and Light Corporation is operating under an original charter granted in 1886 under the name of the "Westinghouse Illuminating Company", which was organized by the Westinghouse interests, then an important factor in the commercial life of Schenectady.

In 1892, after the organization of the General Electric Company, the Westinghouse Illuminating Company was reorganized by the withdrawal of Westinghouse directors and the election of General Electric men and the name changed in 1892 to the "Schenectady Illuminating Company." This name continued until 1919 when the name of "Mohawk Edison Company, Inc." was adopted. In 1920 the name was again changed to "Adirondack Power and Light Corporation."

Some of the component companies which go to make up the corporate property of the corporation as it exists in 1924, date back many years prior to 1886, being in the most part the gas division of the corporation's activities.

The Schenectady Gas Light Company was organized in 1849 and went through a long series of reorganizations and changes until as the Mohawk Gas Company it was merged in 1919 with the Illuminating Company. The Saratoga Gas Company, incorporated in 1853, has a similar variegated history; likewise the Glens Falls Gas Light Company, the Whitehall Gas Light Company, the Oneida Gas & Light Company, and the Ballston Spa Gas & Light Company, each in turn being consolidated with the later developing electric lighting companies and passing through various receiverships, reorganizations and mergers. The Whitehall Gas and the Ballston Spa Gas companies were finally discontinued as such because of unprofitable operation, but the gas plants of Glens Falls, Saratoga and Oneida have continued and form an important branch of the activities of the Corporation. There are nearly forty company names joined in the present corporate organization of Adirondack Power and Light Corporation.

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