Harnessing Tidal Power

Small scale tide mills–submerged water wheels that run machinery–have been used in Maine since at least the 18th century. But harnessing ocean tides to generate electricity has been a subject of ongoing debate for nearly a century.

President Roosevelt, Eastport, 1936. Contributed by National Archives at Boston.

This image, taken on July 30, 1936, shows President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Eastport, reviewing the model for the Passamaquoddy Tidal Power Project, which was intended to harness power via the use of dams in Passamaquoddy and Cobscook Bays. Roosevelt, whose summer home was on nearby Campobello Island, managed to fund the project for one year during the Great Depression. Housing and other facilities were built before the project was abandoned, due to Congress turning down funding requests.

To learn more, check out the Maine History Online exhibit, The Unfulfilled Dream of Tidal Power, which details the story of the controversial project. And for more fascinating history of electrical power in the state, visit our current museum exhibit, Wired! How Electricity Came to Maine.

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