Projects Worked On By the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company During This Period

At the early part of the twentieth century when the motion pictures of the Westinghouse Works were filmed, the Westinghouse companies worked on several projects which brought them great notoriety. This was especially true of the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company which obtained contracts for several highly visible projects, namely the Interborough Rapid Transit Company in New York, the South Side Elevated Railroad Company in Chicago, the Niagara Falls Power Company, and the Louisiana Purchase Exposition.

photograph of transformer station of the Niagara Falls Power Company When the decision was made to convert the Manhattan Elevated Railway from steam power to electricity, the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company was awarded the contract after it designed in competition with other companies a special generator and auxiliary equipment capable of running such a huge installation. The contract eventually awarded called for eight alternating current generators, each having a capacity of 5,000 K.W. along with auxiliary electrical apparatus.

Prompted by the success of the design made for the Manhattan Elevated Railway, the Interborough Rapid Transit Company decided to employ the same type of electrical device for the rapid transit subway being built in New York. photograph of 5,000 K.W. generator for the Manhattan Railway, New YorkWestinghouse supplied nine large generators to power this project, each having an aggregate capacity of 45,000 K.W. The parts for these machines were so large that special railroad cars had to be built in order to transport them from the Westinghouse Works to New York. A promotional book put out by the Westinghouse Company at this time stated that the generators for these two installations were the largest that had ever been built up to that time:

For the conversion of alternating current transmitted at high potential from the main power house to the substations into direct current adapted to operate the motors with which the rolling stock is equipped, the Westinghouse Company provided the largest rotary converters ever made, each machine having a capacity of 1,500 kilowatts. Of this large size of rotary converter there were provided for the Manhattan and Subway divisions a total of eighty, with an aggregate capacity of 120,000 kilowatts. Altogether the installation of apparatus in the stations of the Manhattan and Subway divisions of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company is on the largest scale ever attempted in the field of electric traction...(The Westinghouse Companies in the Railway & Industrial Fields, 1905)

Westinghouse supplied equipment for another elevated railway, the South Side Elevated Railroad in Chicago. For this contract, Westinghouse supplied four 800 K.W. and three 1,500 K.W. Direct Current Engine Type Generators, resulting in what the Westinghouse Company called one of the most economical generating stations in the world.

In 1893, the Westinghouse Company was asked to supply parts for the conversion of the waters of the Niagara Falls into electrical power. The plant erected for this purpose was the first to use units of such a great size to send electrical power out over distances. A book written by the Westinghouse Company described the apparatus used in the Niagara Falls project as follows:

Power House No. 1 now contains ten generators of the outside revolving field, vertical shaft type. These ten generators are divided into banks of five each, and each bank has a separate switchboard. Current is generated at about 2,200 volts and a great deal of the service in and around Niagara Falls is served direct at this voltage. photograph of power house of the Manhattan Railway, New York For a part of the more distant Niagara Falls service, voltage is stepped up to 11,000, and for the Buffalo, Lockport, and Tonawanda service, voltage is stepped up to about 22,000. The development has been so rapid that the demands on the long distance service alone now take about two-thirds of the power developed by these first ten machines. It has been necessary, therefore, to build a new power house on the opposite bank of the canal for the large amount of local service which has to be rendered. (Works of the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company, 1904)

The operation was fully functional by 1895.

photograph of generating station of the Niagara Falls Power Company For the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904 held in St. Louis, MO, the Westinghouse Company not only had large exhibits set up in the Electricity, Machinery, and Transportation buildings, but also installed four 2,000 K.W. alternating current generators with the necessary auxiliary apparatus for the service plant of the exposition. During this exposition, the Westinghouse Company also ran the motion pictures made by AM&B of the Westinghouse Works daily in an auditorium.

(Sources for photos and information: Works of the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company, 1904; The Westinghouse Companies in the Railway & Industrial Fields, 1905)


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