Wave power of the 19th century
Wave and tidal power is seeing a resurgence in recent years, but the concept was pursued in the U.S. back in the 1870s off the coast of California. Here is a postcard from a "wave motor" experiment off the coast of Santa Cruz from 1898, according to the Western Neighborhoods Project. Incoming water would operate a vertical piston in a tunnel along the side of a cliff, which would pump water into a basin, according to a 1902 Scientific American article. Then the collected water could be run through a standard hydrogenerator. The Santa Cruz wave motor operated for at least four years but other experiments didn't fare as well. The Starr Wave Motor in Los Angeles collapsed after two years in 1909 because of faulty construction of the pier it was on.
March 5, 2012 3:59 AM PST
Photo by: Charles Weidner
| Caption by: Martin LaMonica
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