Niagara Falls Engineering Feats

September 6, 2021   -  

NGC Testing Services provides tests to prove our technology for our customers. And just 20 minutes away from our facility sits one of the world's wonders, Niagara Falls, where key technology firsts and advancements have taken place that may not be known to the millions of tourists that visit each year.

Over the years, people have harnessed the power of the falls and the nearly 200 feet in elevation drop. First with the construction of many mills along the gorge starting in the 1800s. Then the world's first large-scale hydroelectric generating station opened in Niagara Falls in 1895. The plant used a direct current (DC) system; however, it could only transmit electricity 100 yards.

Nikola Tesla long-distance AC Unit

In 1896, the famous electrical engineer Nikola Tesla proved that he could transmit electricity from Niagara Falls to Buffalo, about 20 miles, using his new alternating current (AC) induction motor. That marked the first long-distance commercial use of the AC system that is still used around the world today.

Rober Moses Niagara Power Plant

Successive generating plants led to the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant, completed in 1961. It has a capacity of 2.4 MKW, enough to power nearly 2 million households. Water is drawn from the Niagara River above the falls using two water intakes measuring 46 feet by 66 feet. These conduits carry the water four miles under the city of Niagara Falls to the power plant at the lower Niagara River Gorge.

John Roeblings Bridges


John Roebling built the world's first railway suspension bridge over the Niagara River at Niagara Falls between Canada and the United States. Completed in 1855, the new bridge accommodated trains, carriages and pedestrians, and remnants can still be seen on the banks of the Niagara.

From 1848 until today, 13 bridges were built across the lower Niagara River, and four are present today. Some were destroyed by gale winds or by ice jams in the river, one was dismantled for the scrap metal and another was carefully dismantled and re-assembled downstream.

The Maid of the Mist

The original Maid of the Mist boat was christened in 1846 as a border-crossing ferry. The ferry did well until 1848, when the opening of the first bridge between the United States and Canada cut significantly into the ferry traffic. It was then that the owners decided to repurpose the Maid of the Mist as a sightseeing trip by plotting a journey closer to the falls, and it remains a famous tourist attraction to this day.

Bell Aero Systems Aircraft Manufacturing

Bell Aero Systems was established in Niagara Falls in 1935. This aerospace company developed the X-1 aircraft (first supersonic aircraft), the first commercially available helicopter, the Bell X-22 (world's first vertical-thrust aircraft), the Bell Rocket Belt and the Apollo LEM Ascent Propulsion System (thrust package to lift astronauts from the moon).

Niagaras Observation Towers

There has been a long history of observation towers built at Niagara Falls. In 1829, on several large exposed rocks near the end of a walkway, Terrapin Tower was the first to be built by General Parkhurst Whitney, a prominent American innkeeper. The walkway, built of heavy timbers, extended approximately 10 feet beyond the crest line of the falls.

For several months in 1969, the torrent of water rushing over American Fall, was reduced to little more than a trickle. This was done to study the geological composition of the falls and forestall their potential destruction due to erosion.

Over three days in June 1969, more than 1,200 trucks dumped nearly 28,000 tons of rocky fill into a cofferdam upstream of the falls, diverting the flow of the Niagara River away from American Falls and toward the much larger Horseshoe Falls.


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