Narrows Dam Water Wheel


Written by Debrah Lovan

February 26, 2022

This industrial artifact stands at the center of downtown Badin on the historic green space .  Curiosity often overcomes the visitor to the town prompting them to   pull over the car, get out and stand in  wonder at this “art piece”: a monument to industry here in Badin.   It is 28,400 pounds  of stainless steel, 10 feet in diameter. 

Located at the Narrows  Power House from 1988 to 2009 this turbine runner converted the force of falling water from the dam into rotational energy.  The water is delivered through penstock pipes that turn the 13 blades in a pinwheel action.  The energy created by this action is utilized by the generator to produce electricity.  The electrical current is conducted along wires to where it is needed.  In our case most came to the ALCOA plant for aluminum production.  

This particular water wheel  powered the 36000 hp #1 generator at Narrows. The  vertical Francis-type runner has 13 blades and makes 163.6 revolutions per minute…. 235,584 each 24 hour period.  

Before reaching this turbine at the Narrows water flowed through two upriver dams at High Rock and Tuckertown.  After passing through Narrows the water flows downriver to Falls Dam.  The estimated total time water is utilized in the four dams is less than one minute.  It is then released to Tillery Hydro and Blewett Falls Dams, unchanged.   

When the Narrows Dam was built in 1916  there were three 27000 horse power   vertical turbines installed. They were directly connected to three generators of 18000 kilovolt amps.  Power generated was at 13,200 volts  when conducted to the aluminum plant along an approximately  8500 feet long wire.

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