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Photos by Fritz Rethage    April 30, 2004    All Rights Reserved

Great Falls
Paterson, New Jersey

Hydroelectric plant tour
The original hydroelectric plant was installed in 1912.

French trained architect, engineer and city planner Pierre L'Enfant, who drew the plans for Washington, D.C., was the first general superintendent for the S.U.M. project. He proposed to harness power from the falls by a channel through the rock and an aqueduct. The society directors felt that L'Enfant was taking too long and was over budget. He was replaced by Peter Colt, who got the water flowing for the new factories in 1794. Colt used a less complicated plan than L'Enfant based on a reservoir system. Eventually Colt's scheme developed problems and a system nearer L'Enfant's original plan was used after 1846.

In 1910, S.U.M. convinced the mill owers to switch to electricity. Thomas Edison's Electric Company drew up plans for a 4849 kilowatt hydroelectric facility which operated from 1914 until 1969. In 1984, the plant was restored with the replacement of three of the four turbines. In 1986 the plant was restarted and now generates 11,000 kilowatts per hour, enough electricity for 11,000 homes. Recently the plant produced nearly $400,000 worth of electricity in four months which it sold to Public Service Electric and Gas.   Source:

The Great Falls Generating Station is located on the Passaic River in the City of Paterson, New Jersey. The site was originally utilized for the production of electrical energy and was decommissioned in January 1969. The powerhouse was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1971. In 1986, the facility underwent a major rehabilitation with the installation of three new turbine-generators and new electrical and control equipment and was recommissioned in December 1986. The installed capacity is 10,950 kilowatts.

A hydroelectric generating facility consists of a number of components, including a dam, headrace canal or penstock, intake structure, electromechanical equipment consisting of a turbine(s), a generator(s), draft tube and tailrace canal. In addition, there are electrical switchgear and controls equipment which are necessary to interconnect the facility with the receiving electrical grid system.

A power purchase agreement dated September 6, 1985 was entered into between the Great Falls Hydroelectric Company and Public Service Electric and Gas Company (‘‘PSE&G’’). The agreement was amended on February 9, 1998. Under the amended terms, PSE&G continues to purchase all electrical energy from the facility. The rates paid for such energy and capacity are based on the local marginal energy pricing paid by PSE&G for energy and capacity.  Source:

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Decending the tower's stairway that wraps around a service elevator.

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Movie 200k

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Antique turbine/generator

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Paterson Great Falls
[Great Falls Background] [General Photos] [Arbor Day 2004]
[Tour around top of Great Falls] [Tour of Hydroelectric plant]
[Frozen Great Falls 2004]

Paterson Great Falls Movies
Paterson Great Falls: 500k [Close] [Medium] [Long] [River]
Dam at the top 600k    Crest of Great Falls Major 700k
Frozen in 2004  Great Falls-Major 900k       Great Falls-Minor 400k


Passaic River
   Background info [Passaic River/Dundee Dam]
Photos: Frozen Dundee Lake & Passaic River      Panoramic at Dundee Dam

Passaic River Movies
Dundee Dam: 500k [Top] [Flow] [River]
Frozen in 2004 Panoramic at Dundee Dam 2 meg
      Dundee Dam 300k

Other Contacts

New Jersey Department of Enviromental Protection
Watershed Management Area 4   PDF of work in Area 4
American Rivers
American Rivers, 202-347-7550
Paterson Great Falls
Hackensack Riverkeeper, 201-692-8440, 
NY/NJ Baykeeper, 732-291-0176, 
New Jersey Audubon Society, 908-766-5787, 

City of Paterson
Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission

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  Photo Features 
George Washington Bridge
Paterson Great Falls [General Photos][Background info][Hydroelectric plant]
Secaucus Junction
Grand Opening  [Index]
Mail Factory Migrates To Teterboro [ Sneak preview][Ribbon cutting]
"The Wright Stuff"100 Years of Aviation [Index]

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