Lester Pelton – an unrecognized genius

Lester Allen Pelton (September 5, 1829 – March 14, 1908) was an American inventor who contributed significantly to the development of hydroelectricity and hydropower in the old West and world-wide. In the late 1870s, he invented the Pelton water wheel, at that time the most efficient design of the impulse water turbine. Recognized as one of the fathers of hydroelectric power, he was awarded the Elliott Cresson Medal during his lifetime and recently was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.


If the name Pelton doesn’t ring a bell or you’re unfamiliar with mining history, click on the link.

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9 Responses to Lester Pelton – an unrecognized genius

  1. Andrew says:

    His hydropower turbines are still considered top-of-the-line for small hydroelectric setups. Much more efficient than solar or wind, but not as ‘green-sexy’ since they require some modification to water courses, which is a no-no in the green world. Chop birds up or flash-fry them, well, that’s okay!

  2. The Pelton wheels I’ve seen up in California’s gold country looked more like twin scoops or buckets, side by side on each spoke of the wheel. Pretty smart cookie that Pelton fellow!

  3. Doonhamer says:

    He got the blade pattern by sitting, hard butt, in a big bucket of modelling clay.

  4. Odgreen says:

    Wait a minute……that’s not one of the American inventors that pops up during a googturd search of American inventors! You must be mistaken……oh, wait…….this is a Black History post, right!!?? Clearly that man is a phony, as ALL American inventors are BLACK…….right!?…..right!!??……(is this where I insert sarc/off note?)

  5. bob says:

    but he ain’t black, so he don’t count.

    • Elmo says:

      Yeah, all those white guys, always inventing things that benefit mankind. What’s up with that?
      IT’S NOT FAIR!!!

  6. Elmo says:

    Y’all might find this of interest too.

  7. Jean says:

    If you are still stuck in Ca, there is a state park (Wilder Ranch) just north of Santa Cruz, Ca. It has a Pelton water wheel that runs a belt driven machine/blacksmith shop. They only run it a few days each month, but it is a really neat display of what can be done with the power from one of these little jewels.

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