“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Auburn in Cayuga County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Water Power in the City of Auburn

Northern Division Street

Water Power in Auburn image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Steve Stoessel, February 23, 2020
1. Water Power in Auburn
For nearly 200 years, water power along the Owasco River in Downtown Auburn has been at the foundation of the community's manufacturing, industrial, and economic growth. Historically, there were over 11 sites harnessing the power of the river to drive the local mill industry.

In 1816, Elijah Miller and John H. Beach built a large cotton mill at Hackney Falls on North Division Street. The mill went through various owners until it was bought by Lorenzo Nye in 1853. It burned in 1869, and was rebuilt and enlarged by Nye as a woolen carpet factory. The partnership of Nye & Wait was formed in 1871, at which time the works consisted of a four story stone and brick building perpendicular to the Owasco River containing the spinning and weaving shops and the power house. Over the years, the facility expanded to over 100,000 square feet in size with 150 looms, all powered by water from the Owasco River. The Nye & Wait Carpet Company closed down in 1969.

The North Division Street Hydroelectric Facility stayed in service for 21 years, before being shut down in the fall of 2013 due to numerous turbine malfunctions. In the
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spring of 2017, construction began on a project to install a new turbine and make several other upgrades to the facility so that it could be brought back on-line.

The new hydroelectric facility, with its modern Kaplan 1,100 kW turbine, is capable of an average energy generation of over 4,000 MWh per year. Flow rates through the new power house can be adjusted, allowing energy production across a range of river flow levels. New digital two-way communication equipment provides improved interoperability of the City's micro-hydro facilities, and communication with NYSEG.

The North Division Street Dam is one of two hydroelectric plants currently owned and operated by the City of Auburn, providing clean, renewable power to the electric grid-energy that would otherwise be provided by fossil fuel-powered generation facilities. The City's other hydroelectric facility is located at the Mill Street Dam.

The North Division Street Dam was built in 1865. It combines an 11 foot high gravity dam with a 22 foot natural waterfall, for a total height of 33 feet, and has a length of 110 feet. Hydroelectric power generation was installed by the City of Auburn at the North Division Street Dam in December, 1992. The hydroelectric plant used a Flygt Hydropower Model E-7650 turbine unit, and had a generating capacity of 800 kW. The average power generation for
North Division Street Dam image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Steve Stoessel, February 23, 2020
2. North Division Street Dam
this hydroelectric facility was about 2,800 MWh per year.

ABOVE: Nye & Wait carpet factory on the north side of the Owasco River at the North Division Street Dam. Note the original North Division Street bow truss bridge in the background.

RIGHT: Historic views of Hackney Falls
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Industry & Commerce. A significant historical month for this entry is December 1992.
Location. 42° 55.9′ N, 76° 35.107′ W. Marker is in Auburn, New York, in Cayuga County. Marker is at the intersection of Clark Street and North Division Street, on the right when traveling west on Clark Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 286 Clark St, Auburn NY 13021, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Case Research Lab (approx. 0.6 miles away); 1836 Willard Mansion (approx. 0.6 miles away); E.D. Clapp (approx. 0.6 miles away); During the War of 1812 (approx. 0.6 miles away); Martha Coffin Wright (approx. 0.7 miles away); Columbian Rope Plant (approx. 0.7 miles away); 500 Feet → Fort Hill (approx. 0.7 miles away); In Memory of the Soldiers and Sailors (approx. 0.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Auburn.
Credits. This page was last revised on April 4, 2020. It was originally submitted on February 24, 2020, by Steve Stoessel of Niskayuna, New York. This page has been viewed 312 times since then and 18 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on February 24, 2020, by Steve Stoessel of Niskayuna, New York. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.

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Feb. 27, 2024