South Carolina Picture Project
South Carolina Picture Project

Portman Shoals Generator — Anderson, South Carolina

SC Picture Project  |  Anderson County  |  Portman Shoals Generator

Adopt A South Carolina Landmark
Portman Shoals Generator

This alternating-current generator was built by the Westinghouse Electric Company in 1911. It stands in the eponymous Generator Park in downtown Anderson. The generator was made to power the Portman Shoals Power Plant, established along the Seneca River in 1897 by innovator William C. Whitner. Whitner, who studied alternating currents in New York under Nicholas Tesla, had installed a 5,000-volt alternating-current generator at High Shoals along the Rocky River in 1894 to power water pumps for the newly-formed Anderson Water, Light and Power Company. When that succeeded, creating enough power to supply both water and lights to the city, Whitner was inspired to generate electricity for larger projects. Since that time, Anderson has been known as the Electric City.

Portman Shoals Generator Anderson

Charles Payne of Rock Hill, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

In 1897 financial investors allowed Whitner to establish the 10,000-volt Portman Shoals Power Plant. Located 11 miles west of Anderson, the plant supplied water and electricity to homes and local businesses, most notably the Anderson Cotton Mill. The mill began operations in 1890 using steam power. After the Portman Shoals Plant replaced its power source, Anderson Cotton Mill became the first textile mill in the South to be powered by long-distance electric lines.

Portman Shoals Generator

Charles Payne of Rock Hill, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Whitner went on to establish other power plants across the South, working with a young engineer, W.S. Lee. Whitner partnered with a medical doctor and engineer, Dr. W. Gill Wylie, to establish the Catawba Power Plant along the Catawba River in York County. The plant initially struggled financially, and Whitner accepted a job in Richmond, Virginia with the Virginia Railroad and Power Company. A patient of Dr. Wylie’s, James B. Duke, learned of his doctor’s venture and financed the remainder of project, forming the Duke Power Company, now Duke Energy. Lake Wylie in Fort Mill is named for Dr. Wylie.

Portman Shoals Marker

Charles Payne of Rock Hill, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The Portman Shoals Power Plant, which became a Duke Power plant, closed on December 9, 1960. The generator seen here was first displayed at the Coleman Recreation Center. It was later moved to the grounds of a 10,000-square-foot park which honors the generator and the man who brought electricity to Anderson.

Portman Shoals Generator Info

Address: East Whitner Street, Anderson, SC 29624
GPS Coordinates: 34.503593,-82.648334

Portman Shoals Generator Map

Please Share Your Thoughts!

Did you enjoy this page? Do you have any information we should add? Send us your comments below — we can't wait to hear from you!


Join Us on Facebook
Search for Landmarks


Abbeville ACE Basin Adams Run Aiken Allendale Anderson Awendaw Bamberg Banks Barns & Farms Barnwell Batesburg-Leesville Beaches Beaufort Beech Island Belton Bennettsville Bishopville Blackville Bluffton Bridges Bygone Landmarks Camden Carnegie Libraries Cayce Cemeteries Charleston Charleston Navy Base Cheraw Chester Chesterfield Churches Clemson Clinton Clio Colleges Columbia Conway Cordesville Courthouses Darlington Daufuskie Island Denmark Dillon Donalds Easley Edgefield Edisto Elloree Erhardt Fairfax Florence Folly Beach Forests and Nature Preserves Fort Mill Fountain Inn Gaffney Garden City Beach Georgetown Glenn Springs Graniteville Greeleyville Greenville Greenwood Greer Hamburg Hampton Hardeeville Hartsville Hemingway Hilton Head Historical Photos Historic Houses Honea Path Hopkins Hotels & Inns Huger Hunting Island Isle of Palms Jails James Island Jamestown Johns Island Johnsonville Johnston Kiawah Island Kingstree Lake City Lake Marion Lakes Lancaster Landrum Latta Laurens Lexington Libraries Lighthouses Little River Lowndesville Manning Marion McClellanville McCormick Military Mills Moncks Corner Mountains Mount Carmel Mount Pleasant Mullins Murrells Inlet Myrtle Beach National Register Newberry Ninety Six North Augusta North Charleston North Myrtle Beach Orangeburg Pacolet Parks Pawleys Island Pendleton Pickens Piers Pinopolis Plantations Pomaria Port Royal Post Offices Ravenel Restaurants Ridge Spring Ridgeway Rivers Roadside Oddities Robert Mills Rock Hill Rockville Rosenwald Schools Salters Saluda Savannah River Site SC Artists SC Heroes of the Alamo Schools Seneca Shrimp Boats Society Hill Spartanburg Sports Springs St. George St. Helena Island St. Matthews Stateburg Stores Sullivan's Island Summerton Summerville Sumter Sunset Sunsets Synagogues Town Clocks Trains & Depots Trees Trenton Troy Turbeville Ulmer Union Wadmalaw Island Walhalla Walterboro Ware Shoals Waterfalls Water Towers Wedgefield West Columbia Westminster Winnsboro Woodruff Yemassee York