Early Hydropower

1 BC

Over 2,000 years ago, the Greeks used water wheels to grind wheat into flour. They also use water power to saw wood, power mills, and manufacture things.

Bernard Forest de Belidor writes "Architecture Hydraulique"


Bernard Forest de Belidor, a French hydraulic and military engineer, wrote a book called "Architecture Hydraulique." The book described the differences between vertical and horizontal axis machines.

Hydropower Grows

1880 - 1900

Hydropower was a growing energy source in the U.S. Within the first 20 years of the first few plants, nearly 40% of America's electricity was being produced hydroelectrically.

First U.S. hydroelectric power plant


The first U.S. hydroelectric power plant opened on September 30, 1882 on the Fox river near Appleton, Wisconsin.

Plant Numbers Increase


In the U.S. and Canada there were between 40 and 50 hydroelectric power plants.

Companies Use Hydropower


About 200 electric compines relied on hydropower for at least a part of their generation.

Niagara Plant Opens


The Niagara Falls hyropower station opened. Originally it only provided electricity to the local area. But a year later, electric power from the falls was being sent to people over 20 miles away in Buffalo, New York.

First Federal Water Power Act


The first Federal Water Power Act required special permission for a hydroelectric power plant to be built and operated on any river big enough for boat traffic.

The Reclamation Act


In 1902, the Reclamation Act created the United States Reclamation Service, later renamed the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. It was formed to manage water resources and was given the authority to build hydropower plants at dams.

Kilowatts of Electricity


The nations largest hydroelectric dam , the Grand Coulee , began operations

Hoover Dam begins operation


Hoover Dam befgan operation on the Colorado River. It produced up to 130,000 kilowatts of electricity.