Lauffen-Frankfort Line

Discussions about building power line from Folsom dam


Publication: Woodland Daily Democrat

Woodland, CA, United States
vol. 28, no. 93, p. 3, col. 2-3


The Manner in Which It Is Done at

Other Places

Power Taken for a Distance of One Hundred Miles

- What Woodland Can Have if She Will

Only Try.


The proposition to obtain power from the Sacramento river as given by the Democrat some weeks ago has been thoroughly discussed, and there is hardly a man to be found who does not concede that the plan is feasible and that Woodland people are standing in their own light if they do not push the matter forward.

It seems that the people of Sacramento are thinking about bringing power from the big Folsom dam, and the manager of that structure writes a letter to the Record-Union in which he encloses a clipping from the New York Tribune, which he says will give the people a better idea concerning the transmission of power than could be told by him. For the benefit of our readers who are interested in the success of the undertaking spoke of above we reproduce the article. It shows clearly and conclusively that it is only a matter of energy if Woodland wants the power from the river. It is there and can be had. The experiment has already been made and has been proven to be a success. Our facilities are much greater than those where the experiment was made, there they conveyed the power one hundred miles distant while with us, it is only a matter of six or seven miles.


(From the New York Tribune)

FRANKFORT, Sept. 9th - Probably the most interesting and important feature of the electrical exhibition here is the great experiment in transmitting power over a long distance. No other feature has attracted so much attention. It is said that never before was so striking an attempt made in this department of electric engineering. Not only all those directly concerned in it, but electricians and mechanical engineers all over the world have watched the progress of the work with intense solicitude. The result of the great experiment would, they believed, mark a new era in mechanical science.

What was the problem? To convey the water-power of the Neckar River at Lauffen, Wurtemburg, over a wire to Frankfort and utilize it there. From Lauffen to Frankfort is something more than 100 miles. It was therefore as if one had proposed to gather power from the Hudson River at Albany, transmit it by telegraph to New York, and there set it to running machinery, making a turbine wheel at Albany run an engine in New York with only a telegraph wire connecting them. One would say this is a hard thing to achieve. But these German engineers went at it in earnest. So did the statesmen, for the line of transmission passed through the territory of three States - Wurtemburg, Baden and Hesse. But the three Governments not only gladly gave permission, but did all in their power to facilitate the work.

Lauffen is an interesting little town, on both sides of the Neckar. There is one picturesque but rather ruinous old bridge across the river there. The chief industry is the manufacture of cement, in which the place leads all other towns in Europe. A fine system of turbine wheels supplies the motive power for the works; or rather utilizes the power of the Neckar's current. They are placed in a race-way at the side of the river, a mile or so above the town, and have a head of water of twelve or thirteen feet. The water furnishes about 1,600 horse-power, of which only 900 horse-power is used. The cement works have two turbines of 300 horse-power each, making thirty revolutions a minute. A third turbine, of similar action and power, drives an electric dynamo at the rate of 150 revolutions a minute, and thus generates the energy that is to be transmitted to Frankfort. The dynamo is coupled directly with the water motor and produces what is called a "multiple-phase" or "rotation" current. This is really a combination of alternating currents. Each of the three components - each of the three constituent currents which, blended together, form the current that is transmitted to Frankfort - has an electromotive energy of 50 volts and 1,400 amperes. The total force, therefore, is 150 volts and 4,200 amperes, or 200 kilowatts. No collector and no brushes are used. Cheapness and simplicity are attained in a remarkable degree. And the working of the whole apparatus is made as safe as that of an ordinary telegraphic battery.

The line of transmission begins at Lauffen, and passes through Heilbronn, Jagstfeld, Eberbach, Babenhausen and Hanan, to Frankfort. It begins with the falls of the Neckar at Lauffen, and its energy is finally expended in the production of an artificial waterfall at Frankfort. From the dynamo the current is conveyed by means of two brass wire ropes to the transforming machine, passing on the way through a switch-board and automatic power-regulator. The transformer, for perfect insulation, is placed in a tank of oil It has a capacity of 200 kilowatts, ad it transforms the compound low-pressure current above described into a high-pressure current, having a force of 15,000 volts at twelve or thirteen amperes. And this is the current that is sent forth on the hundred-mile journey to Frankfort. It traverses this distance by way of three copper wires, each about four millimeters in thickness. These wires are not covered with any insulating sheath or coating, but are entirely bare. They are carried across the country like ordinary telegraph wires in America, strung along on poles twenty-five feet high and a hundred and twenty-five feet apart. The insulators by which the wires are fastened to the poles are, however, of a special kind. They are made of porcelain, in the usual manner. But on the surface of such insulators moisture is apt to be condensed, thus greatly impairing their efficiency. To prevent this, each insulator is provided with three troughs filled with oil, and thus no fraction of its usefulness is lost.

Thus the potent and mysterious fluid is conveyed from Lauffen to Frankfort. Here it is received by an oil transformer like that at Lauffen, and is turned into a low pressure current again of about 100 volts. Then part of it goes to the electric lighting apparatus, and furnishes the current for 1,200 incandescent lamps. The rest of it goes to three motors and there takes the form of mechanical energy. The largest of the three motors drives a huge centrifugal pump, which supplies the stream for the waterfall above mentioned, some thirty-odd feet high. The actual loss of power of transmission is scarcely one-forth. Therefore, for every 100-horse power of energy sent out from the works at Lauffen, more than seventy-five-horse power is actually available for use here in Frankfort, a hundred miles and more away. This result has not only been attained, but it has been constantly maintained for the last two weeks. In view of this, it is not surprising that the projectors of the enterprise are more than satisfied, and are exulting in having accomplished the most remarkable feat on record in electric engineering.


Keywords:Lauffen-Frankfort : Power Transmission : Folsom
Researcher notes: 
Supplemental information:Articles: 4744, 4760
Researcher:Elton Gish
Date completed:December 25, 2004 by: Elton Gish;