Cliff House Project

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Wave Motors

"Life-Saving Station, near Cliff House"
Contrary to the caption on this stereoview, this photo shows the wave motors


Wave Motor (ebay image)


Courtesy of the Doug Johnson Collection

Analysis by John Martini (3/3/2016):

"This is Steen's Wave Moto at Point Lobos overlook. It spanned a narrow inlet (or more accurately, a crevice) in the Point where waves rushed in with tremendous force. From what we can decipher from old drawings and descriptions, itís operation was complex: a float suspended beneath the trestlework bobbed up and down as waves washed into the cleft. The resulting motion somehow pumped seawater into a reservoir high on the hillside, which was released to turn a Pelton waterwheel to create electrical power. Itís not clear if it was ever completed. The photo dates to between 1905 and 1925. The double tracks in the foreground are for the electric Cliff Line/#1 Line, which was constructed in 1905 by United Railroads. It was abandoned in 1925 when the tracks washed out further to the east. Portions of Steenís Motor lasted until World War II."

close-up of Steen's wave motor (ebay image)


Wave Motor Company incorporated
Daily Alta California - 22 July 1886


Wave motor damaged by Parallel explosion
Daily Alta California - 13 January 1889


Abandoned wave motors post safety hazard
San Francisco Call - 25 September 1892