Inside the Power Plant, Part II

Power plant interior construction 1912You know, I’ve been doing this for several years now and I’m still frequently surprised at what you people like. Yesterday’s interior shot of the power plant drew numerous demands for more, so what the heck, here you go. I don’t know a whole lot about this, but I do have some very good photographs of the various machinery.

Part of the reason I had trouble finding an image with the trolley for the bridge crane is that (starting with construction, as in the picture above) photographers tended to be fascinated with one particular view:

Power plant 3

There are a lot of pictures of this. It’s the Lovett Hall of power plant photographs, the thing you pose in front of:

Power plant
Power plant 5But there are a few more:

Power plant 4 wwwPower plant 2Power plant c1912 1

I have, as I noted, little to no idea what any of this is or how it works, but I do know enough to be really interested in the various light fixtures you can see when you zoom in on these. As always, your thoughts are welcome.

Bonus: Sunset over the stadium parking lot, yesterday evening. Courtesy of loyal reader John

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18 Responses to Inside the Power Plant, Part II

  1. Kathy says:

    Old machines are just cool, what can I say. I’m convinced it’s how the whole steampunk genre got started. My goodness, but that first photo makes the space look gorgeous, almost cathedral-like!

  2. Grungy says:

    The Cooper-Wheeler Generator is just gorgeous.
    OSHA would have something beyond a fit at all of that exposed rotating mass.
    I would imagine that the four boilers were coal-fired, originally.
    Are there any images of people shoveling in the archives?

  3. grungy1973 says:

    For those who need yet more stuff like this, here’s a great page:,_part_3

  4. Deborah Gronke Bennett (BSEE Hanszen 1982) says:

    What is in that space today?

  5. mjthannisch says:

    I’ve seen on this site pictures of trains loaded with coal for here. I like the picture of the flywheel attached to the generator, but what is the chrome looking thing to the right? I also really like the hand wash station with the oil cans setting in it. I haven’t seen oil cans like that in years. I also like the lights at the top of the hand washing stand, not unlike what is on our ceiling fans, and not at all what I would expect to find in a machinery room!

    • Mark Williamson says:

      I think the chrome thing on the right is the end of another generator string. It looks a lot like the “cap” on the far end of the string with the visible flywheel. The seventh picture make it clear that there was at least one more flywheel-generator string to the right of the panel of gauges.

      I wonder if that “hand wash” station might be for filling those oil cans instead.

      • Grungy says:

        These things existed in groups – one for each phase being generated.
        So there would be two for two-phase and three for three-phase.
        What is powering these generators?
        Was there a steam turbine?

      • mjthannisch says:

        Good thought, that hadn’t occurred to me because it looks like a modern hand wash station.

      • mjthannisch says:

        @Grungy, I don’t know about a turbine or reciprocating, but the boilers are very similar to ones I have seen on older ships (like Victory ships and Liberty ships) which were powered by steam turbines.

  6. mjthannisch says:

    In the 6th picture, I find the guys with the cellulose collars in the back ground very interesting. Since no one else seems to have a collar, maybe they are university officials or supervisors.

    And at Grungy, we could say a lot about OSHA 🙂 but I’ll be nice and admit they did a lot of good too.

  7. Owlcop says:

    I find the ornate light fixtures and iron work interesting.

  8. Philip Montgomery says:

    That looks like William Ward Watkin wearing a bowler hat in the background of the photo.

    Phil Montgomery

  9. loki_the_bubba says:

    Melissa, can you arrange a tour of the building for us? How much of this is still in there?

  10. There was a Corliss reciprocating steam engine over there somewhere which used to be at the Houston Museum of Natural Science (probably still is.) It had a big flywheel as I recall.

  11. Mark Kapalski says:

    All I can say is WOW ! it looks a lot different from when I was there for Brown & Root in 1992 when I got the trolley. The building is so organized and clean. I have learned from parallel research on the trolley that much of this kind of equipment was unfortunately scrapped in World War II. It was probably made by Corliss and was as much a work of art as engineering. I would like to go there today and see what it all looks like 20 years later. I do remember one thing. Although I was never a student at Rice , I always thought it strange that the head of the plant at Rice at the time was a graduate of A & M.

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