Water turbine references

A two-part list of useful references to learn more about 19th century water turbine technology

Turbine References part 1: John Tyler biographical material, Tyler turbine manufacturers and trade publications

Turbine References part 2: Historical and technical information on turbines

Turbine References part 1: John Tyler biographical material, Tyler turbine manufacturers and trade publications

The Claremont Anniversary. Granite State Monthly 1913. New series vol 9(11-12) Nov-Dec. 1914. P 349. Pages 349 has some biographical information on James Upham of the Sullivan and Clay Companies. – both manufactured Tyler turbines.

Biographical Review, vol. XXII Containing life sketches of leading citizens of Sullivan and Merrimack Counties of New Hampshire. Boston: Biographical Review Publishing. 1907. P 326 and thereafter.

Brigham, W.I.Tyler. Official Report of the First American Tyler Family Reunion. Chicago: no publisher, 1897. page 19 for information on John Tyler.

Burlington Free Press, November 4, 1859. Large ad for Tyler turbines and adjacent single column ad for Edwards and Stevens Co. of Winooski Falls, Vermont which listes Tyler's Water Wheels as part of their line.

Desjardins, Pauline. 2003. Navigation and Waterpower: Adaptation and Technology on Canadian Canals. Industrial Archaeology, vol 29(1), 21-47. Figure 9 on page 39 shows a plate from a Tyler trade catalog at Old Sturbridge Village. Different from the 1869 catalog available at Purdue.

Ellis, J.A. (ed.). Memorial encyclopedia of the state of New Hampshire. New York: American Historical Society. 1919. Pp 315-316 for biographical information on John Tyler.

HAER NH-3 Sugar River Grist Mill and Saw mill. Description of the 1855 mill buildings in Claremont built by John Tyler in 1855 on the same site as mills first constructed by his grandfather Benjamin in the late 1700s. The grist mill is still standing today, but the wood frame sawmill (added in 1866) was demolished during conversion of the grist mill to residences in 1982. Accompanying photos from 1978 and drawings show the now-demolished sawmill.

HAER NH-4 Sullivan Machinery Company, Main Street, Claremont, New Hampshire Descriptive data from HAER of the Sullivan Machinery Company. Includes pictures of workers and buildings from late 19th century and information (see p 4 of descriptive data) of the company with mention of John Tyler, James Upham and DA Clay. See especially an 1871 photo of the original buildings (http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hhh.nh0127/photos.104552p).

Hurd, D.H. 1886. History of Cheshire and Sullivan Counties, New Hampshire. Lewis, Philadelphia. Second Section. Pages 75-77 in Sullivan County section, City of Claremont. Information on Sullivan Machine Co., Claremont Manufacturing Co. and Sugar River Mills - all associated with John Tyler and Tyler turbines at one time or another.

Ide, Simeon. The industries of Claremont, New Hampshire, Past and Present. The Claremont Manufacturing Co.: Claremont, NH. 1879. see pp 20-21 on the Sugar River Papermill company and John Tyler.

James Leffel & Co. Illustrated Handbook, 1885

Layton, Edwin T. Benjamin Tyler and The American Antecedents of The Hydraulic Turbine. Tools & Technology 5, no. 3 (1983). Information on Benjamin Tyler's 1800 "Wry-Fly" water wheel: an early version of a water turbine. A lawsuit involving Tyler's patent was an important case. Benjamin was the grandfather of John Tyler.

McClintock, J.N. Sketch of Claremont. The Granite Monthly, a New Hampshire magazine. Volume 3, 1880, pp 173-186. see p. 179.

Merrimack and Sullivan Counties, New Hampshire Biographies. Boston: Biographical Review Publishing Company, 1897. John Tyler information on pp. 326-329. Includes a picture of the man on page 327.

Mining and Scientific Press, February 4, 1865 and February 11 1865. A weekly San Francisco newspaper. Ads for Tyler turbines on pp. 73 and 89 on the compilation available at archive.org. The ads contain test data for wheel power and several testimonials from customers.

New Hampshire Register, 1873. Claremont Machine Company: Claremont, NH. Page 124 for has an ad for the Sullivan Machine Co. stating they are the sole manufacturers of the Improved Tyler Turbine.

Putnam Machine Co. Putnam Machine Co's. Works. sole manufacturers of Tyler's new improved turbine water wheel. ~1878. 62-page manufacturer’s pamphlet which shows a patent date of 1874 on the front cover and has testimonials from turbine owners dated as late as 1877. Ledyard Up-down Sawmill has access to a privately owned copy. (Very likely the same publication listed at the Dartmouth library.)

St Johnsbury (VT) Caledonian, August 9 1867. p. 4. Advertisement for Tyler's Improved Patent Water Wheel. Available 2014 via genealogybank.com subscription. Ad was published in multiple editions of the Caledonian in the weeks prior and after this date.

Sullivan Machine Co. History Pamphlet – see page 3 for picture of Tyler turbine

Tyler, John. 1864. Tyler's improved water wheel. Patented in 1855, 1856, and 1858, and recently in 1864. 7 page trade pamphlet available online at frenchriverland.com. Also found in several libraries.

Tyler, John. 1869. Tyler Improved Turbine Water Wheel. 40 page catalog and price list with plates, data tables prices and sized of turbines, testimonials. Not online, but available from Purdue University Libraries, W.G. Van Name collection. Folder 19. http://www4.lib.purdue.edu/archon/?p=collections/findingaid&id=1266&q=&rootcontentid=8129#id8129

Tylers turbine. Scientific American, v. 11, no. 19, Nov. 5, 1864, p 289. Two page article on the Tyler turbine which is essentially a reprint of the first section of a John Tyler 1864 pamphlet

United States Patent Office. Decisions of the Commissioner of Patents and of the United States Courts in Patent and Trademark and Copyright Cases. U.S. Government Printing Office, 1876. Pages 159-160 are the patent commissioner's decision to extend John Tyler original patent of 1856 and then first renewed in 1868. It’s interesting to note that John Tyler’s appeal to the US patent office in 1870 stated:

“The wheel, as covered by the two patents, has been largely manufactured, and extensively introduced, and is being made at the present time in almost, if not precisely, the identical form in which it was originally patented.” (my italics).This statement is a bit at odds with the claims made both in Tyler’s advertising literature which continued to emphasize that the turbine was improved, and, in fact, with Tyler's statements in subsequent patents that the new patents show clear differences from the “form in which it was originally patented.”

Upham George, B. The Beginnings of a Great New Hampshire Industry. The Granite Monthly, 53(4), 1921.. Pages 141-149 for information on the Sullivan Machinery Co. and its predecessors which manufactured the Tyler turbine.

Vermont Yearbook. Walton’s Vermont Register and Farmers’ Almanac for 1870. Claremont Manufacturing Co, Claremont, NH. ad for Sullivan machine Co p 147. Ad For Tyler turbine p. 155 (both of these ads also found in the New Hampshire Register, 1871.)

Waite, Otis F.R. History of the town of Claremont, New Hampshire, for a period of one hundred and thirty years from 1764 to 1894, n.p., printed by John Clark, Manchester, New Hampshire, 1895. p. 199-200.


See also John Tyler turbine patents at Tyler turbine manufacturers and patents

Turbine References part 2: Historical and technical information on turbines

Emerson, James. Treatise Relative to the Testing of Water Wheels and Machinery. Second edition. Springfield: Weaver, Shipman and Co. 1878. James Emerson supervised testing of turbines at the Holyoke Power Company in Holyoke, Mass in the 1860s and 1870s. The results were published in annual reports and collated by Emerson in several editions from 1878 into the 1890s. The 1878 edition has information on John Tyler turbines (several types) on pages 25, 67, 86. The Tyler turbine tested on p 86 is likely the same as the Ledyard turbine.

Glynn, Joseph. Rudimentary treatise of the power of water. London: Weale, 1853. Mid-19th century discussion of water wheels and early turbines (e.g., Fourneyman)

Horton, Robert. 1906. Turbine Water-wheel Tests and Power Tables. USGS Water-Supply and Irrigation Paper no. 180. Series M, General Hydrographic Investigations 18. Pages 44-183 of this volume is Horton’s paper. Has ratings for dozens of turbines including several different John Tyler turbines. Includes a compilation of data from multiple sources: James Emerson’s tests at Holyoke, manufacturer’s publications, and the 1876 Centennial exhibition. Nice general introduction that includes discussion of different types of turbines. This report is available in several different volumes available online.

Howard, Robert A. A Primer on Water Turbines. Bulletin of the Association for Preservation Technology Vol 8, no.4 (1976), pp 44-63

Hunter, Louis C. A History of Industrial Power in the United States, 1780–1930, vol. 1 in Waterpower in the Century of the Steam Engine. Charlottesville: Eleutherian Mills-Hagley, 1979. Highly recommended. Chapters 7 and 8 are particularly helpful in presenting the historical context for turbine development in the mid-1800s through 1900. Widely available in academic and engineering libraries.

International Correspondence School. Civil Engineering: Materials, Hydraulics, Waterwheels. International Textbook Company: Scranton, 1927. A collection of engineering volumes originally published in 1907. Two sections on water wheels and turbines.

Layton, Edwin T. Scientific Technology, 1845-1900: The Hydraulic Turbine and the Origins of American Industrial Research Author(s): Technology and Culture, Vol. 20, No. 1 (Jan., 1979), pp. 64-89

Mead Daniel W. Water Power Engineering. New York: McGraw Hill. 1908. Turn of the century engineering work with a brief historical discussion as well as chapters on hydrology, turbines. Includes a discussion of turbine testing at the Holyoke flume directed by Emerson. Page 9-11 has a list of advantages of turbines compared to waterwheels.

Reynolds, Terry S. Stronger Than a Hundred Men: A History of the Vertical Water Wheel. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1983. Highly Recommended. A standard reference with a focus on water wheel technology, but also has water turbine information.

Safford, A.T. & Hamilton, E.P. The American Mixed Flow Turbine and its setting, Trans. American Society Civil Engineers, 1922, volume 85, pp 1237- 1356. Includes an historical treatment and some photos of 19th century water wheels. Curiously (and confusingly), the authors use the term “flutter wheel” to describe an open paddle horizontal wooden waterwheel and show several pictures of such. This usage of “flutter wheel” is clearly different from most of the 19th century literature (including Evans).
The same article is published in
Safford & Hamilton The American Mixed Flow Turbine,", Proceedings of the American Society Civil Engineers, 1922, volume 48, no. 4, pp 753-808. from p 790: "Probably the best of the scroll wheels, and the one which survived the longest, was made by John Tyler, of Lebanon, N. H., grandson of Benjamin Tyler who patented the "Wry Fly" in 1804. As made, in 1873, it gave an efficiency of 81.6% and a specific speed of 29. The same runner, placed in a register-gate flume casing, gave a lower efficiency than when used in the scroll."

Thurston, R.H. The systematic testing of turbine water-wheels in the United States. Transactions of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Vol 3 (1887), pp 359-420. Discussion of tests on turbines including at the Holyoke flume and also at the Centennial exhibition (p 368).

Tyler, W.W. . The Evolution of the American Type of Water. Wheel Journal of the Western Society of Engineers. 3(2), 1898, 879-901. Note that author is William W. Tyler, not John Tyler who developed the Tyler turbine. Excerpted in The Irrigation Age 13(12) September 1899, pp 416-420.

Tyler, W.W. I. Origin of convex turbine vanes. Industry: a magazine devoted to science, engineering, and the mechanic arts, especially on the Pacific Coast. 1895. pp 408-409, 681-682. Letter to the editor from turbine authority William Tyler on convex turbine vanes. (I don't think William Tyler is any relation to turbine inventor and maker John Tyler.)

HAER VT-39 Robbins and Lawrence Armory. HAER article on the Robbins and Lawrence Armory which is now the site of the American Precision Museum. Has discussion of waterpower mills and turbines. http://memory.loc.gov/pnp/habshaer/vt/vt0100/vt0163/data/vt0163data.pdf