#6 Curtis 5000-kW Vertical Turbine


The most powerful steam turbine-generator in the world at the time of it's construction.

Photo courtesy of Schenectadyhistory.org

Built in 1903, the 5,000-kilowatt Curtis steam turbine-generator was the most powerful in the world. It stood just 25 feet high, much shorter than the 60 feet reciprocating engine-generator of a similar capacity, and took up considerably less floor area. The combined innovation and effectiveness of the 5,000-kilowatt Curtis steam turbine-generator helped to stimulate the growth of modern electrical generation in large central stations nationwide.

The Curtis steam turbine was the creation of two men: patent lawyer and inventor Charles G. Curtis and engineer William Le Roy Emmet. Curtis initially proposed the design and constructing of a new turbine that was powered by steam. After two years of research and experimentation, Emmet was called in to fix design problems. Using Curtis's design, Emmet was able to create a 5000-kilowatt steam turbine-generator. The new generator was a hit. Manufacturers nationwide wanted the new turbine that produced more power and took up less space.

After years of use, the original 5000-kilowatt steam turbine-generator was returned to the General Electric plant in Schenectady, New York.

Adapted from "5000-kilowatt Steam Turbine-Generator" article in Landmarks in Mechanical Engineering authored by ASME International History and Heritage.

Download pdf

Landmark Location

Schenectady, New York


General Electric

Visiting Info

The Curtis turbine-generator is located outside Building 263 at the General Electric Company plant in Schenectady, New York.
Direct questions to: GE Power Generation, 1 River Road, Schenectady, NY 12345

Ceremony Notes

May 28, 1975


You are now leaving ASME.org