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Wonder Wednesday

February 8, 2017

The history of hydroelectric power at Niagara Falls is just incredibly fascinating, with no less than four different hydroelectric plants built on the Canadian side of the falls, only one of which operates today quite some distance away from the falls themselves (though tunnels take water from near the falls and brings it to a holding pond). Given many of these were built in the early 1900s, they are engineering and effort marvels.  Featuring deep pits, impressive turbines, and, above all, absolutely awe inspiring tunnels that were bored through the rock to carry water to and from the generators, with one (from the William B Rankine generating station) sending the water out from behind the falls.  Boggle.

The pictures above are a collection of those tunnels, absolutely mesmerizing in their size, construction (the brick work!  or riveted steel plates!  holding back all that rock!), and the views from their outputs, including from, yes, behind the falls.  With 2,400 cubic metres (85,000 cubic feet) per minute of water pouring over the edge.

(Which in of itself is another fascinating thing – there’s a treaty that mandates how much water must flow, at a minimum, over the falls at any given time, which varies based on time of day and of tourist seasons… !!)

Let’s explore…

The Toronto Power Company tailrace

The Toronto Power Company tailrace

Where the TPC's two tunnels combine into the single tailrace

Where the TPC’s two tunnels combine into the single tailrace

The TPC tailrace ... behind the falls... !!

The TPC tailrace … behind the falls… !!

Ontario Generating Station Distributor in Penstock Number 1

Ontario Generating Station Distributor in Penstock Number 1

Penstock and Surge Openings in the Number 2 Distributor of OGS

Penstock and Surge Openings in the Number 2 Distributor of OGS

William Birch Rankine Generating Station Tailrace exit -- that's the American side of the falls in the background

William Birch Rankine Generating Station Tailrace exit — that’s the American side of the falls in the background

The outside part of the WBR Tailrace -- to give a sense of its impressive location, that's the Horseshoe Falls in the background

The outside part of the WBR Tailrace — to give a sense of its impressive location, that’s the Horseshoe Falls in the background

One last look at the impressive TPC Tailrace

Truly something to marvel at.

 

Photos (and amazing exploration stories) sourced from here:

Vanishing Point explores all 3 abandoned stations w/ maps and lots of historical info to boot – the landing page has a great map you can mouseover to see the stations and their tunnels

Sewer Fresh

Manufactured Landscapes has some google maps links that’ll zoom in on the various bits

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