It’s not there any more…
In fact, the water wheel was replaced with the turbine sometime around 1875, give or take 20 years — we lack records for the period — and the turbine was replaced by a steam engine around 1910.
But, people ask, where was the water wheel when it was running?
Here’s the easy way to tell.
Go to the turbine house. Look for the yellow safety tape (soon to be replaced with safety fencing).
The pit on the other side of the safety tape was the wheel pit in which the wheel turned.
If you’d like more information about what kind of water wheel was used, understand first that there were three basic types of water wheels:
- The overshot wheel, when the water was run into the wheel at the top. Generally these were the most powerful wheels, but you needed quite a drop in the water level to power one that was of the size of the wheel at Beckley.
- The undershot wheel, when only the bottom of the wheel was in the wheel race (where the water ran) (this was the least powerful type of water wheel).
- The breast wheel, where the water was directed at the wheel right about the middle of it. A hybrid of the undershot and overshot wheels, it was quite effective, but did not require the “head” that the overshot wheel needed.
At Beckley, as far as we have been able to determine from the records, a breast wheel was always used.