They were using green energy before green energy was cool.
In the early days of the Arsenal, they needed power. They didn't have a lot of options, but as an island; they had access to plenty of water. So they began using that water to power their plant.
Nestled between the shores of Arsenal Island and Sylvan Island is a hot bed of hydropower history. You see, before this old dam, there was one even older.
"That actually was a belt drive system, a mechanical system that fed through a bunch of towers and leather belts and pulleys all the way up to the Stone Buildings," said Terry Harris, Garrison Public Works Office.
That's what powered the arsenal's early manufacturing. That dam burned down in 1899. And this one, producing electricity, replaced it.
"When they built things back there, they built things to last," said Harris.
What still stands is a great example of the industrial revolution. You can see there's two wings on this dam: the first one finished just after the turn of the century.
"At the time they built that was state of the art when they put it together and then in such a short amount of time with the revolution, these became state of the art and did so much more than those that it just made sense to get rid of those," said Harris.
Outdated, the old wing became essentially a walkway to get to the second wing, finished in 1919 featuring the 8 heavy duty generators we see here today.
"So the water rushes down through each one of these turbine bays, it runs through the turbines which is 20 some feet below us, spins the turbines, then the turbines turn the shaft, then we're standing basically on top of a big coil that produces electrical energy," said Harris.
What worked then, still works now, nearly a century later.
"During the course of the week when we're running three shifts, and production at the manufacturing plants, and all the office buildings, it produces about 20 percent of our electrical requirements," said Harris.
A long way from belts and pulleys and still harnessing energy, the green way. The plan has been modernized over the years adding things like an electronic braking system for the turbines, and digital readouts to monitor power production.
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