Development of Water Power

at Wiscoy, NY

 A history of RG&E published in 1943 entitled "The Genesee River and Its Relation to the Rochester Gas and Electric Corporation" contains a four-page chapter on development of water power at Wiscoy. This book is available only at the Local History and Genealogy Division/RS
Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County-Rochester,NY and not in general circulation.

Below is the information relating to Wiscoy.

       PRESS HERE  for Pictures

Ebenezer Mix acquired all lands and water rights in this vicinity sometime prior to 1834.  A grist mill was built about that time, on the south bank of Wiscoy Creek, northeast of the present power house.  The mill drew water from the pond created by a dam across the creek north of the power house.  About the same time a saw mill was built on the same side of the creek a few hundred feet above the grist mill.  A second dam above the grist mill dam at what is known as the Lower Falls provided water for the saw mill.  In the late 1840's a flume was constructed along the north side of the creek to carry water from the grist mill pond to a lathe mill on the creek bank west of Batavia Road.  This flume was extended across the road to supply water to a machine shop.

In 1902 Moses Taggart, then owner of lands along the creek above the sawmill lot, sold two parcels to Signa Chemical Company.  The deed permitted a dam 12 feet high at the upper end of the upstream parcel, with a proviso that all electric power generated should be kept in the Village of Wiscoy for 12 1/2 years.  A second proviso that $10,000 be spent for development during the first year was apparently not carried out since in 1903 Taggart's heirs sold the same property to another party.  After several changes of ownership, the title to these lots and some additional property rested in the Fillmore Electric Company which had been organized by Mr. Young in 1920.  The corporate name was changed later in 1921 to Genesee Valley Power Company, Inc.

The present development was built for the company by Gannett, Selye and Fleming, Inc. in 1921-22.  Later, other upstream flood lands were purchased, also the grist mill property below the power house.  The grist mill and saw mill dams have been destroyed and the Genesee Valley Power Co. Inc., merged with Rochester Gas and Electric Corporation in 1929.

The Wiscoy development made in 1922 comprises the following elements:

  1. A pond formed by a concrete dam 30 feet high across the Wiscoy Creek.
  2. A wood stave penstock extending downstream along the creek bank about 1500 feet to the power plant.
  3. A surge tank located on a side hill and connected by a branch pipe to the penstock at a point about 600 feet upstream from the power house.
  4. The power house with two water wheels direct connected to generators.

The power plant is a substantial one story reinforced concrete and brick building about 22' wide, 54' long, and 22' high.

The waterwheels operate under a head of about 100 ft. at a speed of 600 rpm.  One is a Pelton horizontal Francis type waterwheel of about 750 horsepower and the other an S. Morgan Smith machine of about 1050 horsepower.

The smaller wheel is direct connected to a 600 KVA. G.E. generator, while the larger one drives a Westinghouse 750 KVA. generator.

During the past ten years the average output has been about 4,110,000 kilowatt-hours instead of the 5,188,000 KWH predicted in a preliminary report of the consulting engineers who later did the contruction.  Around 1927-28 studies were made as to the advisability of raising the Wiscoy dam to provide additional generation.  It was found that it would be feasible to raise the crest of the dam about twelve feet and thereby increase the generation by about 477,000 KWH. or roughly 10%.  The average cost of the energy increment however, figured out on the basis of the expected cost of the improvement was slightly more than one cent per KWH.  Since energy could either be purchased or generated at Rochester and transmitted to the area at a cost no greater than one cent per KWH., the project was not attractive.

Neither that project nor any other with reference to increased capacity at Wiscoy has been reviewed lately, but, there is no reason to suppose that the controlling factors have changed so as to make any further development worthwhile.

In 1928 it became necessary to make quite extensive repairs to the dam because of surface spalling of the concrete.  Repairs have also been made in recent years on the surge tank.  The plant and appurtenant works are now in good shape and should continue to operate economically for many years.  The operators have taken great pride in keeping the plant always in a spic and span condition.