Elkhart in Elkhart County, Indiana — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
The Rivers for Industry
Our Rivers' Story
Elkhart's early development as an industrial city can be attributed to its proximity to several waterways. Before the advent of electric power, the early industry pioneers harnessed the power of the river flow to provide the energy to their machinery. By using a system called "Hydraulics" the mills would open gates to the headrace allowing water to flow into penstocks which housed turbines.. The turbine's fins were opened allowing water to pass through the fins to an opening below the turbine. The flow of the escaping water caused the fins to turn the turbine shaft which produced the power. The water then emptied into a tailrace which flowed downstream back into the St. Joseph River.
To the right is an illustration of one of Elkhart's major hydraulic industrial sites, the Elkhart Hydraulics. This site, which is unrecognizable today, encompassed the present day sites of Lundquist-Bicentennial Park and Easy Shopping Place (see inset map). Established in 1866 with the damming of the St. Joseph River, the Elkhart Hydraulic Company excavated several raceways south of the river. Soon several manufacturing
Unfortunately, the hydraulics were prone to flooding and as was common in those days, the wooden structures were virtually destroyed by fire. In 1907 the hydraulics were purchased by the Indiana & Michigan Electric Company. They soon reconstructed the dam with concrete and began producing another source of power, electricity.
To this day, the Hydro Electric Plant continues to produce electricity from the river's powerful waterflow.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Charity & Public Work • Industry & Commerce • Waterways & Vessels. A significant historical year for this entry is 1866.
Location. 41° 41.442′ N, 85° 58.184′ W. Marker is in Elkhart, Indiana, in Elkhart County. Marker can be reached from Pacific Street 0.1 miles west of N. Elkhart Boulevard, on the right when traveling west. Marker is located at Lundquist Bicentennial Park at the entrance of the southern pedestrian bridge to Island Park. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Elkhart IN 46514, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Rivers and the Native Americans (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Rivers for Recreation (about 400 feet away); Island Park (approx. 0.2 miles away); C.G. Conn CompanyVillage of Pulaski (approx. 0.2 miles away); Ruthmere (approx. ¼ mile away); Elkhart River Wharves (approx. ¼ mile away); Development of Diagnostic Test Strips (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Elkhart.
More about this marker. As stated on the marker, the markers for Our Rivers' Story were designed and written by James Faigh, J. Faigh Design, Elkhart, IN.
Credits. This page was last revised on August 30, 2020. It was originally submitted on October 27, 2013, by Duane Hall of Abilene, Texas. This page has been viewed 377 times since then and 12 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on October 27, 2013, by Duane Hall of Abilene, Texas.