ASME-Landmark:Knight Foundry and Machine Shop


At a time when the foothills of California bustled with the men drawn by the lure of gold, copper, and other treasures, tools and machinery were needed to make the mining possible. Stamp mills, hoist works, pumps, ore cars, dredger buckets, rock crushers, and many other types of equipment had to be manufactured. If the mines were to operate, a foundry was needed to cast the metal parts and a shop was needed to machine them to final form.

Historic Knight Foundry, in Sutter Creek, California, is believed to be the only remaining water-powered foundry and machine shop in the United States. The foundry was established in 1873 by Samuel N. Knight (1838-1913), a former ship's carpenter, was one of several inventors experimenting with impulse turbines to exploit the area's abundant high-head water power for driving hoists, ore stamps, and other mining machinery. He patented an efficient water wheel that came to dominate the field prior to the introduction of the Pelton turbine in the mid-1880s. Knight turbines drive some of the machinery of the works.

Today the foundry continues to operate, producing gray iron castings for industry and tourism. The machine shop is still powered by water falling more than 400 feet from the ridge above Sutter Creek. Knight Foundry is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been designated a California Historical Landmark. See ASME website for more information