Croatia is rich in a lot of things. Today waterfalls are on my mind. I spent Sunday at Skradinski buk, the lowest of three sets of waterfalls formed along the uniquely beautiful Krka river, in Dalmatia. Consisting of 17 waterfalls whose wealth and variety of geomorphological forms along with lushful vegetation, Skradinski buk is famed for being one of the most beautiful calcium carbonate waterfalls in Europe. For me, it is stunning both for the effects light and water cause (where else would the world worst photographer catch a rainbow shot?). Also, not less important, you can swim there.
It is speculated that Krka, which I realize looks like a nightmare to pronounce if you are an English speaker, derives its name,, from the Greek Catarbates, meaning”steeply falling”. Ancient Romans called it Titius, Corcoras, as well as Korkoras.
The river’s Skradinski buk waterfalls are not only famous for their stunning beauty. It also happens to be the place where the first European hydroelectric power plant was built and used, connected to a lighting system using alternating current. Krka Power Plant was put into operation just two days after the world famous Adams Power Plant on the Niagara Falls.
So, on August 28th, 1895, at 20:00, the aptly named Krka hydroelectric plant made history, not only by being the first in Europe but also by providing power via 6. 8. miles long transmission line that was made of wooden towers to the street lights in the nearby coastal town of Šibenik. (At Niagara they did that a full year later!) This beautiful Dalmatian town today proudly boasts of being the birthplace of famous basketball player Dražen Petrovic and the first city in the world with street lights powered by a polyphase system of alternating current (AC) using Nikola Tesla’s AC system patent.
Nikola Tesla did offer making Zagreb the first city in the world to have street lights powered this way but the city council kindly refused. So the man emigrated. Lest they or we should forget just shortsighted they were, there is plaque on the wall of the building today, commemorating the mistake.
During World War II Krka Power Plant was heavily damaged but since it is a huge part of history – the successful operation of first AC hydroelectric plants led to the adoption of alternating current and to its eventual dominance worldwide (or, in short, to Tesla beating Edison in the “War of the Currents”) – that they did not dismantle it. It is still there, to be seen and admired, five minutes walk up a hill from the first waterfall at Skradinski buk.
It took me four and half hour to drive back to Zagreb from Skradinski buk and I am currently so very sorry I cannot fit this place into Gillian’s GUFF tour of Croatia for lack of time. A teleporting device would come in so handy, didn’t Tesla work on one of those as well?