"Wave Engine"

greenspun.com : LUSENET : San Francisco History : One Thread

I am searching for information on the so-called "wave engine" that once sat atop a rock at Land's End. Built sometime in the late 19th century, its remains survived until at least the '30s. I do have one newspaper clipping from the 1970s that claims it was built by Adolph Sutro, but the writer provides no source information. Although I've seen various photographs of the engine over the years, I remain clueless as to how its bizarre arrangement of pulleys, cables and struts were supposed to have harnessed wave action. Any leads gratefully accepted!

-- John Martini (martini@slip.net), December 05, 1998


I see that Samuel Dickson's "Tales of San Francisco" is back in print. I think it talks about the person who promoted the wave engine. It wasn't Sutro. I don't think anyone but the inventor, who may have been a crook, knew how it was supposed to work.

Harold Gilliam's "The Natural World of San Francisco" may also talk about it, but I can't find my copy.

-- Joe Thompson (cable_car_guy@hotmail.com), February 06, 2000.

There is a Rip Tides issue dated April 4, 1947 by Robert O'Brien about the Tide Machine, or Perpetual Motion Machine, or Wave Motor, as it is sometimes known.

It was still on the rock at the time, but there seems to be no record of when it was taken down. It seems to have been constructed in 1895.

What is not clear to me is if there is only one person, namely Ralph Starr, who tried his luck twice, with some financial backing of Sutro (it was also on his land), or if there is another person by the name of Alexander Pelton with his "Pelton's Folly" of which is reported that local citizens backed him with 25,000 or more.

There is another mention of a certain Lewis Reece who attempted to harness the tide at Point Lobos three times, but failed; date is January 13, 1948.

-- Wolfgang Schubert (chouby@aol.com), April 20, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ