The Hydraulic Tunnels of Niagara

Thomas Evershed, a New York State engineer, submitted a plan in 1886 that proposed the acquisition of the generation of 200,000 horsepower at Niagara Falls. Evershed’s plan called for the total utilization of the waterfall; starting from the upper Niagara River to the lower Niagara River. A series of canals would serve hundreds of mills above the Falls. There would also be a huge runoff tunnel which would extend under the Town of Niagara and empty into the lower Niagara River near the Suspension Bridge.

The method of transporting electricity, at that time, to the town could not be transmitted more than two miles, which means the nearest population center in Buffalo, New York could not be reached. A lot of world famous experts realized the potential of the far reaching hydro-electric power generating at Niagara Falls.

Evershed proposed to bore a wide ice proof tunnel, 4 kilometres long, which would run under Niagara Falls, New York. This would be able to feed 38 vertical shafts containing turbines which, in turn, could feed power to factories above.

A group of businessmen formed a group called the Niagara River Hydraulic Tunnel Power & Sewer Company and secured a charter in 1886 to divert water from the upper Niagara River just outside of the Niagara Reservation State Park. The only downside was that they could not attract enough money to finance this project.

Between 1886 and 1890, Evershed’s construction was stalled because the mill-over-wheel plan was believed to be too inefficient and costly. Presently there was not any suitable way developed to transmit the power also the decision as to what type of motor that would be used in power generation had not yet been made.

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