One of the world’s greatest sources of hydroelectric power, the Niagara River features an array of waterfalls and rapids which compose Niagara Falls and the gorge. Visitors can see how that water is used to generate electricity by taking a guided tour of the power plants.
Water was first diverted from the Canadian side of the Niagara River to create electricity in 1893. A small plant was built just above the Horseshoe Falls to power an electric railway between the communities of Queenston and Chippawa.
Today, the raging waters of the Niagara River provide the force for almost 2 million kilowatts of electricity from a number of power plants on the Canadian side. The three largest are Sir Adam Beck Niagara Generating Station Numbers 1 and 2, and the nearby pumping-generating station.
On the American side of the border, down river from the falls, the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant and the Lewiston Pump Generating Plant generate more than 2.4 million kilowatts of electricity, which is enough to power 24 million 100-watt light bulbs.
Since 1958, Sir Adam Beck Generating Station No.2 has been Ontario Power Generation’s largest hydroelectric facilities. Guided tours offer a glimpse into the history of the region’s power development.
Before or after exploring the power plants, visitors can experience the stories of the many daredevils who have challenged the falls and the gorge and see relics from their adventures are showcased, at the new Daredevil Gallery at Niagara IMAX Theatre. The daredevil exhibit features the world’s largest collection of Niagara Falls history, including actual barrels and artifacts along with the engaging stories of Niagara’s heritage and tales of the daredevils.
The natural splendor of Niagara Falls and the dramatic adventures of daredevils of the past are vividly presented in the IMAX movie, “Legends and Daredevils.” The exhilarating film details the remarkable vistas of the raging waters of Niagara Falls and tells the story of when Native peoples Native peoples worshipped the thunder spirits, and when the first European encountered the region. The movie also introduces viewers to daredevils like the Great Blondin, who completed a death-defying tightrope walk over the river in 1860, and Annie Taylor, a 63-year-old schoolteacher who became the first person to plunge over the falls in a barrel.