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

Hercules "Type A" Turbine Water Wheel

Hercules "Type A" Turbine Water Wheel Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Pete Skillman, July 27, 2020
1. Hercules "Type A" Turbine Water Wheel Marker
Inscription.  In March of 1890 the DuPont Company purchased this state-of-the-art water turbine from the Holyoke Machine Company in Massachusetts. At that time, this turbine represented cutting edge technology that increased the efficiency and output of the machines it powered. This turbine was discovered in its original location buried under fifteen feet of rubble in 2011, and restored to use in 2014.

Water turbines were brought to the site by the DuPont Company in the 1840s, replacing the wooden water wheels that had been used here since 1802. The introduction of turbines dramatically increased the productivity of the powder yards by increasing the amount of power generated to operate the roll mills and other equipment needed to make black powder.

To produce power from water, water must fall from a high level to a low level. In a traditional wooden water wheel, water is dropped onto the top of the wheel, hitting horizontal blades or buckets, causing the wheel to spin, which transfers energy from the river to the gears. Wooden water wheels are only about 50% efficient because only about half of the wheel is working at one time. In water
Hercules "Type A" Turbine Water Wheel image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Pete Skillman, July 27, 2020
2. Hercules "Type A" Turbine Water Wheel
The turbine is located down the hill from the marker, along the shore of the Brandywine.
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turbines, made of iron, the blades are attached to a vertical shaft like a fan. The "fan" (or runner) is enclosed in a case that fills with water from the top and exits through the bottom. The vertical drop of the water spins the blades transferring the energy. The Hercules "Type A" turbine was about 75-80%, efficient generating 43 horsepower.

The water turbine is part of a waterpower system that runs through the entire site at Hagley. Water from the Brandywine is diverted by a dam upstream from here into the mill race seen between here and the Millwright Shop behind you. When power from the turbine is needed, a gate (sluice) on the mill race wall is raised allowing water to enter an underground pipe (penstock) delivering it to the turbine. The drop from the mill race to the turbine is about seventeen feet. This drop speeds up the water transferring the energy causing the turbine to spin. Gravity pulls the water through the turbine to the bottom where it exits back into the Brandywine.

The Hercules "Type A" was designed by John B. McCormick, widely considered one of the most important innovators in hydro power and whose inventions dramatically improved America's industrial output in the 19th & 20th centuries. In 1890, McCormick’s turbine was the newest technology and represented the DuPont Company's continued commitment to innovation. The technology McCormick
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invented in the nineteenth century is still in use today in the turbo chargers of high performance cars.

We believe that this Hercules "Type A" turbine provided power to a dust mill (now gone) that was located close to the river's edge. Today, it provides clean, green, renewable energy to Hagley's 1870's operating Machine Shop that you can visit in the Millwright Shop behind you.
Erected by Hagley Museum.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Industry & Commerce.
Location. 39° 46.737′ N, 75° 34.385′ W. Marker is in Wilmington, Delaware, in New Castle County. Marker is on Hagley Creek Road, on the right when traveling north. The marker is located on the grounds of the Hagley Museum. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Wilmington DE 19807, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Eagle Roll Mills (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); History of Osage Orange Trees (approx. half a mile away); Eleutherian Mills (approx. half a mile away); Pierre Samuel DuPont de Nemours Memorial (approx. 0.7 miles away); Henry Clay Village (approx. 0.7 miles away); William Marriott Canby Memorial (approx. ¾ mile away); Looking Back… (approx. 0.8 miles away); Rockford Tower (approx. 0.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Wilmington.
Credits. This page was last revised on April 17, 2022. It was originally submitted on March 17, 2022, by Pete Skillman of Townsend, Delaware. This page has been viewed 187 times since then and 59 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on March 17, 2022, by Pete Skillman of Townsend, Delaware. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.

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Mar. 20, 2023