How the Hydroelectric Station Works

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Station Operation

All of Henry Ford's Village Industries were built where water power existed and had been used by early settlers. Ford improved the waterpowers in each case, but Milford's site was unique. Here a flume or penstock (4-foot diameter steel pipe) was buried under ground and laid across the Upper and Lower Mill Pond beds, traveling almost 2/3 of a mile to the hydroelectric plant on Liberty Street. Ford took advantage of the topography and also built a dam on Moor Lake, creating the 50-foot headwater that powered the generators.
Once inside the building, the 48 inch diameter pipe is split to feed two hydraulic turbines in the basement. A shaft then connected each turbine to a generator located directly above on the main level. The two generators were rated at 75 and 62.5 KVA. When synchronized with the other hydro plant Ford built on the Huron river, the power was distributed to the manufacturing plant via underground cables across the lower mill pond. Both hydroelectric stations could be operated from the control room in the manufacturing plant.
The large tank in the tower of the Pettibone station is connected to the flume in the basement and acted as a surge suppressor to absorb the shock of the moving water when the turbine gates closed.
The Pettibone station was decommissioned around 1953 and acquired by the Village of Milford in 1970. Since it's retirement, much of the original equipment has been removed or vandalized. Presently there is water flowing through the flume and turbine casings from Moor Lake and is discharged into the creek below the station.


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