Free enamel pin when you buy any two Atlas Obscura products. Shop now.

Seattle, Washington

Georgetown Steam Plant

A frozen relic of Seattle's hydroelectric boom is now a teaching facility for future engineers. 

The Georgetown Steam Plant is a relic of the time when Seattle’s relatively cheap hydroelectric power and trolley car system attracted industry to the city during the United States’ era of electrification.

The plant, which can still be seen from the Georgetown neighborhood along 13th Avenue South, offers a great current and historical vista. It was once the apex of the neighborhood’s thriving industrial and residential activity. The Seattle Electric Company built it between 1906 and 1907 on 18 acres of land along the Duwamish River.

Puget Sound Traction, Power and Light purchased the Seattle Electric Company in 1912. The plant continued to change hands over the years, and it was demoted to merely a source of supplemental power during periods of high demand. By the midcentury, its had continued to dwindle, rendering it nearly obsolete.

Staff members and volunteers have undertaken efforts to restore the plant in recent years, which was designated a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark. It still contains its original equipment from the early 1900s, and is now a teaching facility for future engineers. The Georgetown PowerPlant Museum, which operates an accredited technology school, uses the equipment in its classes for steam engineers and those seeking a boiler fireman license.