Local steampunk group the Seattle Steamrats imagine a world where industrial steam power still reigns.

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Dressed in Victorian retro and techno clothing, local steampunk group the Seattle Steamrats met at the old Georgetown Steam Plant on Saturday to explore the defunct industrial machinery and take fun photos. 

According to Wikipedia: “Steampunk is a subgenre of science fiction that incorporates retrofuturistic technology and aesthetics inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery. Steampunk works are often set in an alternative history of the Victorian era or the American ‘Wild West’, where steam power remains in mainstream use, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power.”

“We enjoy dressing up for what we think the Victorian era of now would’ve been,” Michelle Bartell says.

“It’s like stepping back in time, visiting an old building like this,” Marilu May says.

The Georgetown Steam Plant was built by the Seattle Electric Co. on the Duwamish River in 1906-07 and is now a National Historic Landmark. It was used to provide electricity to the growing city, particularly powering the electric trolley car system, according to the Seattle City Light website. The plant’s two vertical Curtis turbines are the only ones left in place in the world, and they “helped establish the steam turbine as capable of producing large amounts of power more cheaply and efficiently than other generators at the time,” the website says. As hydropower began to replace steam in the 1920s, the plant last produced electricity in 1953. It was decommissioned in 1977. 

The Georgetown Steam Plant is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the second Saturday of each month, and volunteers lead free public tours at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. For more information about its history, visit st.news/steamplant.

For upcoming Steampunk events, visit the Seattle Steamrats Facebook page (facebook.com/groups/seattlesteamrats).

New members are welcome. “We don’t point fingers if you’re not dressed right,” Bartell says.