Niagara Falls, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Canada and the United States, now has an additional experience: a 670-meter tunnel part of the old hydroelectric plant that in the past used to operate there.
The construction is more than a century old and just a few months ago it opened its doors to welcome visitors. This new attraction reveals a never-before-seen underworld and allows visitors to appreciate a panoramic view of the falls from the observation deck located on the edge of the Niagara River.
For the first time, the newly constructed observation deck offers unprecedented access to a new perspective of the lower Niagara River, with views of the Horseshoe and American Falls.
It took thousands of workers four years to excavate the shale beneath the main generating room using lanterns, dynamite, pickaxes and shovels.Marcelo Gruosso, Engineering and Operations Niagara Parks
“This is where the water from the tunnel empties into the river. It’s the best place to see the falls,” Marcelo Gruosso, senior director of Engineering and Operations for the Niagara Parks Commission told CNN.
To enter, visitors must descend into the tunnel in a glass elevator 54 meters down from the main generation floor. There, one can get a close-up look at the engineering feat that was built in 1901 and was key to driving the progress of the United States and Canada.
The power station, which operated from 1905 until 2006, diverted water from the mighty Niagara River to run generators that electrified regional industry and contributed to the nearby Great Lakes port of Buffalo becoming known as the City of Light, CNN reports. The tunnel, nearly eight meters high and six meters wide, is a unique historical attraction that is included in the price of admission to the power plant.
According to CNN, the Adams hydroelectric power plant was the first to open, operating on the US side from 1895 to 1961. On the Canadian side, the Ontario Power Company operated from 1905 to 1999, and the Toronto Power Generating Station from 1906 to 1974.
The opening of this new passageway opens the possibility for visitors to get an up-close look at the rudimentary process by which the hydroelectric plant was created. “It was excavated in an extraordinary way in 1901 with only flashlights, rudimentary dynamite, picks and shovels,” one can read on the Niagara Parks website.
Visitors can even learn how sewage from the power plant was expelled back into the Niagara River at the base of the falls. The tunnel served as an outlet for water used to generate hydroelectric power for more than a century.