I visited the North Star Mine Powerhouse in Grass Valley, California in May. Gage McKinney, a local mine historian, recommended that I include this site during my tour of the area. It is a small museum that contains many working examples of historic mining technology. The 30-foot Pelton Water Wheel is the highlight of the exhibit. I included three photos, since the wheel was too large to fit in one photo. The second photo shows the tour guide to give some perspective to the scale of the wheel.
The tour guide explained that the Pelton Water Wheel was invented in the 1870's. Each scoop is divided in two equal sections (see last photo for a good view). According to the tour guide this design transfers more energy to the water wheel than traditional waterwheels. He was proud to report that he saw a Pelton Water Wheel among the massive hydro-electric generators at Hoover Dam.
The museum display includes one of the only working Cornish Pumps in the world. Cornish Pumps were designed to pump large volumes of water from mine shafts.
This small museum is rich in mining history, but does not appear to attract a large amount of visitors. It is worth your time to check it out if you are visiting the Grass Valley area.
North Star Mine Powerhouse Historic Landmark
30 foot Pelton Waterwheel
Smaller Pelton Waterwheel showing the divided scoops