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Niagara Falls Power Project

Americans had longed dreamed of harnessing the power of Niagara Falls, but schemes for extracting power from the Falls never materialized (Tesla). Tesla had dreamed since childhood of harnessing the power of Niagara, and in 1893, this dream came true when Westinghouse was awarded the contract for creating a powerhouse there. The Niagara Falls Power Project came as a result of a failed competition led by the Niagara Falls Commission, charged with planning the power project. They had solicited proposals from experts from around the world, but rejected all of them - schemes ranging from a system using pneumatic pressure to one using ropes, springs and pulleys. The British physicist, Lord Kelvin headed the commission, and he had been opposed to alternating current until he visited the Chicago Exposition, which converted him to its use. He and his commission asked Westinghouse to use alternating current to harness the power of Niagara Falls.

The project was backed by such people as J. P. Morgan, John Jacob Astor, Lord Rothschild, and W. K. Vanderbilt (Tesla). After five years of doubt and crises, the project neared completion. Tesla new the scheme would work, but the investors were wary - the machines worked in Tesla's imagination, but had not been tested in reality, and it was an expensive venture. When the switch was thrown, the first power reached Buffalo at midnight, November 16, 1896. The first one thousand horsepower of electricity surged through Buffalo, and was claimed by the street railway company, but the local power company already had orders from residents for five thousand more. Within the next few years, the number of generators at Niagara Falls reached the planned 10, and powers lines fed electricity to New York City, lighting up Broadway, powering the elevated railway, the subway system and street railways, and even the Edison system, which had originally not believed in alternating current, made the switch. ...

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Niagara Falls Power Project. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 07:49, February 28, 2017, from