Harnessing Power

Civil Engineering

"All kinds of quick get-rich schemes"

"I had all kinds of quick get-rich schemes, but because I was so interested in civil engineering and in the energy that was in all the little streams that was going across the farms, I built a paddle wheel. That paddle wheel had five blades on it, and each blade had a one-ounce steel ball attached to it. And I would plant that in the little stream and count the RPM [rotations per minute], and then I worked out a formula...The final sum was the square root of all this you did back here [sweeps hands across body] times .375, and that gave me the energy that was wasted in every stream that I was testing. And then I was going to channel all of those into one stream that went across our farm – it was called Turkey Creek."

Editor's note: Alton Cadenhead grew up in a family of sharecroppers and dirt farmers in Troup County, Georgia.