Trains in the Roof
Westport Generating Station
Located in Baltimore, MD
Photo © 2006 Tom Kirsch, opacity.us
Westport Generating Station History
The Westport Generating Station (named after the Westport neighborhood where it stood) was a massive power plant which rested on the edge of Baltimore Bay. When it was opened in 1906, it was reputed to be the largest reinforced concrete building in the world. The lack of wood in construction made the station extremely fire resistant. Built by the Baltimore Gas and Electricity company, it worked in parallel with a hydroelectric plant to supply power to Baltimore and the surrounding area. The total capacity of the plant was 252 megawatts; about half the power was produced from steam turbines and the rest from combustion turbines. The original smoke stack stood 209 feet high, the tallest in Baltimore.
The original plant contained low pressure boilers, turbines and generators (25 cycle). Crushed coal was raised to an elevated track which ran high above the boilers, and wooden coal cars delivered their payload through a system of chutes to the furnaces below. The facility was expanded in the 1940s-1950s with modern equipment using a high pressure system, the generators here were 60 cycle. A special frequency changing house was constructed to convert the old 25 to 60 cycles, and connected to the rest of the plant by an underground passage. Eventually the old low pressure side of the plant was decommissioned and the turbines and generator sets were removed. The plant then operated using only the newer machinery.
The plant was fully closed in 1993, and subsequently sealed shut using welded plate metal. The abandoned power station was a filming location for the movie Twelve Monkeys (1995), and was eventually demolished in 2008.