The entire turbine generator hall of the power station is shown in perspective. The generator heads are lined up on the right, covered in tarps. The interior is brightly lit by the large windows in the brick wall.

The Grand Turbine Hall

This is the ground floor interior of the Power House, the most publicly visible face of the generating station. It's approximately 600 feet long and contains eleven 10,000 horsepower generators. At the time of construction, these were the most powerful in the world.

In the photo, the generators (alternators) are on the right hand side. Running down the middle are the “bus breakers” which transfer power from the alternators to the grid outside of the station.

The turbines aren't here

I always refer to this space as the “Turbine Hall” and I know that's incorrect. These aren't turbines, they're generators (or alternators). But “Alternator Floor” just doesn't sound right to me. (Apologies to those who actually know what's going on here. Just ignore my ignorance for a little while longer...)

(To be clear, the turbines are actually 130 feet underground, getting spun by the water that has fallen down through the penstocks.)

When the power station opened in 1905, only 2 of the 11 generating units were installed and active. It took another 19 years before all 11 would be in place and operational.

Archival photo of Rankine Generating Station power house under construction, from 1904. Two sections of steel columns are standing, along with the roof trusses connecting them. A small crane on railway tracks inside the frame is moving materials around.
Building the power house: This archival photo from 1904 shows the power house under construction. The power house was built in 2 phases. The second phase would extend the length of the power house to accomodate the remaining generators.

When I visited in 2006, the station had recently been shut down and the decommissioning process had begun. This is why most of the big equipment was covered by tarps.