LORD KELVIN, when visiting Niagara Falls, was not moved by that which appeals to the ordinary tourist, the roaring of the cataract, the waters in their mad rush from the Falls to the whirlpool and thence to Lake Ontario, nor the mists rising night and day from the waters churned into foam. For him, Niagara was a monster piece of machinery, accomplishing nothing but the rounding out of its own life on the rocks which formed its bed. In his mind’s eye there appeared vast factories, deriving their power from the Falls, furnishing hundreds of men employment and distributing millions of dollars’ worth of products to be placed nearer the hands of the poorer classes because of having been created by the cheap power furnished here by nature.
Various estimates have been made regarding the volume of water flowing over the Falls; but the calculations by United States engineers extending over a number of years places the amount at about 224,000 gallons a foot per second. These are the figures taken as the basis of many calculations; upon this basis the Falls would furnish 3,800,000 horse-power exclusive of the rapids. If the fall of about fifty feet which is produced by the rapids in their descent from the Dufferin Islands be added to this amount, the sum total of power would be greatly increased. To make some use of this almost inconceivable amount of power which has been wasting itself for ages has been the problem which has caused much investigation and to-day it seems to be nearing a practical solution.
Niagara Falls were first used as a source of power in 1725, when a primitive saw-mill was built just opposite Goat Island to saw lumber for the construction of Fort Niagara. For years men have made many attempts to use some of the power to be had here for the taking, and in a very small way have been successful. A number of establishments for several decades have been making use of power developed by the Falls by means of the Hydraulic Canal on the American side. This canal was begun in 1853 and passes through the city of Niagara Falls, terminating on the cliff half a mile below the cataract ; here are to he found a number of mills, which however utilise only a small fraction of the fall available, probably because at the time of their construction, the high grade water-wheels of to-day were not in existence. Some of the waste water from the tail races of these mills is now being collected into large iron-tubes and is used again by mills situated at the base of the cliff.
In 1885, the late Thomas Evershed, of Rochester, New York, devised a plan for wheel-pits a mile and a half above the Falls. The water was to be conducted to these pits by lateral canals] from which it was to be taken to the river below the Falls by means of a tunnel cut through the solid rock. This plan seemed more practicable than any proposed heretofore, and commanded the attention of many leading engineers of the country. The present great developments at the Falls had their inception in the organisation of the Niagara. Falls Power Company. This company obtained a charter from the State of New York in 1886, giving them permission to use water sufficient to generate two hundred thousand horse-power. This company could accomplish very little on account of its limited capital. In a short time, however, New York capitalists and hankers, perceiving the practicability of the company’s plans, became interested in the project, and furnished the necessary funds. The first earth was turned for this great work in October 1890 and the tunnel was completed in the autumn of 1893. The first main wheel-pit was ready for its machinery by the following March.
The device for applying Niagara’s power to the turbines is on the same principle of construction, in each of the recently erected plants as in this first one. In the case of the Niagara Falls Power Company, a broad deep inlet leads from the river at a point a mile and a half above the American Falls, two thousand feet back in a north-easterly direction. The canal is protected by a lining of heavy masonry, which is pierced at its upper end by a number of gateways ; through these water is admitted by short canals to pits emptying into huge steel pipes or penstocks, as they are called. These penstocks terminate at the bottom in wheel boxes, in which are placed the bronze turbine wheels, connected with the surface by means of steel shafts parallel to the penstocks. From the turbine wheels the water whirls and rushes on through a subterranean passage to the main tunnel. Here it starts on its long journey of over a mile under-ground, beneath the heart of the city, until it emerges again at an opening in the cliff just below what is known as the new suspension bridge. A very ingenious plan was adopted for the application of the power to the turbines. The penstocks are brought down under the wheels and are made to discharge their waters upward into the boxes. This contrivance causes the water to bear up the great weight of the wheels, from the bearings beneath for their support, besides that of the hundred and forty feet of shafting connected with the turbines for transmitting power to the surface.
The tunnel which receives these waters after leaving the turbines is no less than six thousand seven hundred feet long, and discharges below the Falls just past the suspension bridge. Its cross-section somewhat resembles a horseshoe in shape, and this sectional area is three hundred and eighty-six square feet throughout, the average height and width being twenty-one and sixteen feet respectively. The company owning the mills connected with this tunnel, together with the Niagara Falls Hydraulic Power and Manufacturing Company, of which mention has been made, are the only ones using water to any great extent on the American side.
On the Canadian side, three great canals are drawing water from the river. It is the construction of these mammoth Canadian power plants, and the devising of means for leading water to the turbines together with the development of a plan for the disposal of the waste water by means of some form of tail race] which must necessarily consist of a monster tunnel broken through the solid rock, which has developed some of the greatest and most unique engineering problems ever before dreamed of, and which has presented a work hazardous and spectacular in the extreme.
To meet the engineering problems concerned in locating the three Canadian plants along the shore of the river, involving the taking of water by some form of canal, and the disposal of waste water through tunnel or by other means to the lower river, each without interfering with any of the other plants, taxed even Yankee engineering ingenuity. One company had to unwater a considerable area of Niagara River at Tempest Point where the waters have a great depth and the current is of high velocity. From here then a tunnel, the largest in the world, must be broken through solid rock, under the bed of the river, to a point directly behind the great sheet of water plunging over the apex of the V formed by Horseshoe Falls. A second company takes its water through a short canal to its wheel-pits, which are sunk about half a mile above Horseshoe Falls in Queen Victoria Park, discharging it through a tunnel two thousand feet long into the lower river. To find room for the third of these companies was a puzzling problem for some time. Finally the difficulty was solved by a departure from the plan of the other companies, both in the manner of taking water from the river and in the location of the power-house. Instead of locating the wheel-pits above the Falls as in the case of the others, this company has it power-house located in the Gorge below the Falls along the lower level. It takes its water from farther up the river than any of the companies, thus being further removed from any difficulties arising from recession of the Falls besides obtaining the additional power to be given by the descent of the rapids to the crest of the cliff, which amounts to about fifty feet. The water is taken from near the Dufferin Islands through the largest steel conduit in the world, which runs not far from the shore of the river, skirting the other plants, and terminates at the power-house situated in the canyon below the Falls.
It is interesting to visit and survey these hydroelectric power-generating stations, to note the different methods for taking the water from the river and for carrying it to the lower river after having passed through turbine wheels. It is well here to take a brief résumé of the main features connected with the obtaining of this water supply and its disposal. The first American company, that of the Niagara Falls Hydraulic Power and Manufacturing Company, takes its water through a canal from the upper river. This canal passes through the centre of the city of Niagara Falls to the cliff just below the first steel cantilever bridge, the power plant and industries making use of its waters are located here at the top of the cliff. The other American company known as the Niagara Falls Power Company takes its water by a short canal, about a mile above the Falls and discharges the dead water through a tunnel that runs under the city of Niagara Falls to a point near the water’s edge in the lower river directly below the first steel bridge. The Canadian Niagara Falls Power Company, allied with the American company, takes its water from Queen Victoria Park and discharges it below the Falls through a two thousand foot tunnel. The Toronto and Niagara Power Company, with its power plant built in the bed of the river near Tempest Point takes water through massive stone forebays in the river and sends it to the lower level through a tunnel beneath the river’s bed opening directly behind the V in the Horseshoe Falls. The Ontario Power Company takes its water into large steel conduits near Dufferin Islands. These underground pipes conduct the water along the shore of the river to the power house situated on the lower level. The waste water is discharged through draft tubes directly into the river.
With this general picture of these great power companies in mind, it is proper to survey some of the more interesting details of construction which may appeal to individual taste and curiosity. Space forbids entering into the minutia either of construction or machinery used. Only the main principles of interest to the general reader can be touched upon.
Let us descend first into the tunnel under the bed of the river, which discharges the tail water from the power-house of the Toronto Company, hurling it with almost inconceivable fury against the mass of foaming water plunging over the Horseshoe precipice. Here is a sight to thrill even the most jaded traveller hunting for new wonders. A trip through this underground passage which American genius has shot through a mass of solid shale and limestone, beneath the bed of the river, will in itself more than compensate for a trip to Niagara Falls. Some idea of the size of this tunnel is indicated by the fact that two lines of railways were maintained in it to dispose of the rock and shale excavated by the workmen. Clad in rubber coat and boots the visitor to the Falls may wend his way down along the visitors’ gallery which is suspended from the roof of the tunnel, one hundred and fifty-eight feet below the river bed, to where the outrushing waters join the great volume of the river in its headlong plunge over Horseshoe Falls. Here standing behind that mighty veil of rushing water, with the spray swept into the opening by furious storms of howling winds, one beholds a spectacle, almost terrifying in its grandeur, the equal of which perhaps can not be found in any of the numerous attractions of the Falls.
Before work on the main tunnel was begun, a shaft was sunk on the river bank just opposite the crest of Horseshoe Falls. From this shaft a tunnel was dug to the point where the lower end of the main tunnel would terminate. No difficulties were experienced in the driving of this opening until near the face of the cliff behind Horseshoe Falls. Here, with only fifteen feet to go, water began to rush into the cavern through a fissure in the rocks. The engineers fought against the water for several days but could not stop its flow. Finally eighteen holes were drilled into the cliff between the end of the tunnel and where the final opening was to be made; these holes were loaded with dynamite, which, together with a large charge placed against the end of the passage, was exploded, after the tunnel had been flooded. This only accomplished a part of what was desired. An opening was made in the cliff but too near the roof of the tunnel to allow of any work. What to do now was a difficult problem, but American daring accomplished the work. Volunteers were called for to crawl along the ledge of rock running along the cliff behind the Falls to where the opening had been made. Several men offered to make this almost impossible trip. Lashed together with cords, with the thunder of the Falls in their ears, blinded by spray which was driven into their faces with cyclonic fury, the men at last reached the opening and placed a heavy charge of dynamite against the opposing wall. This was discharged, making a sufficiently large opening for the water to run out, and the work was continued.
In the design of the main tunnel, ingenious provision was made for recession of the Falls. From the opening in the cliff for three hundred feet the lining will be put in in rings six feet long; this arrangement will allow a joint to drop out whenever the Falls recede so that it is exposed, thus leaving a smooth section always at the end of the tunnel. Through this main tunnel and through the branch races, the water, after having left the turbines, will whirl along at the rate of twenty-six feet per second, having generated a total of 125,000 electric horse-power. In engineering problems connected with the tunnel and the construction of the plant, the work of this company far surpasses that of any of the others. In order to secure a place for the wheel-pit and gathering dam, an area of about twelve acres in the bed of the river was converted into dry land. To do this a coffer dam was constructed 2153 feet in length and from twenty feet to forty-six feet wide in water varying in depth from seven feet to twenty-four feet, besides being very swift in most places. About two thousand feet above the Falls] in the space thus deprived of its water, an immense wheel-pit was sunk into the solid rock. On the bottom of this pit, r so feet below the surface rest the monster turbines, from which two tail-races conduct the water to the main tunnel. A large gathering dam sufficient to supply the maximum capacity of this plant runs obliquely across the river for a distance of 75o feet. The height of this dam varies from ten to twenty-three feet; it is constructed of concrete] the top being protected by a course of cut granite. The power plant is located on the original shore line and parallel to it in Queen Victoria Park. In the power room are to be found eleven monster generators capable of developing 12,500 horsepower each.
A short distance farther up the river at the Dufferin Islands is the beginning of the mammoth steel conduits of the Ontario Power Company. These pass about a hundred yards from the shore and conduct the water to the power-house situated in the canyon below the Falls. This contrivance for water transmission consists of three steel pipes, the largest in the world, eighteen feet in diameter, and a little over six thousand feet long. This plant has the advantage of the others in several respects. While it draws its water from farther up the river, it preserves it for a longer time from the recession of the Falls, besides securing to it the greater amount of power per volume by obtaining the additional advantage of the descent of the rapids which amounts to about fifty-five feet. The power plant located as it is in the Gorge discharges its waste waters directly into the lower river without the necessity of an intervening tunnel. Lastly, the plan of applying the power to the turbines is slightly different in this case from the others, being made possible by its different plan. Here the turbines are placed vertical instead of horizontal, and arc directly connected with the main generators, which are the only machines located on the floor of the station.
A departure from the ordinary construction of the dynamo is noticed in those for use at Niagara. The ordinary one is built with the field-magnets so placed that the armature revolves between them, the field-magnets being stationary. In these monster dynamos, developing thousands of horse-power, and weighing many tons] the field-magnets revolve around the armature which remains stationary. With such an enormous weight of swiftly revolving parts, it became necessary to lessen the immense centrifugal force tending to tear the machine to pieces. Engineering skill surmounted this problem as it did all others in what might be called this mighty scientific drama, and, by reversing the parts of the dynamo, secured the desired result. The field-magnets, being placed on the outside and being made the revolving part, by their mutual attraction for its armature within their ring are pulled, as it were, toward the centre, thus lessening the great strain produced by the centrifugal force upon the large steel ring upon whose inner circumference they are mounted.
The currents furnished by the power-houses at Niagara are all alternating. This kind of current being decided upon for various reasons. It can be used for driving dynamos as well as any, and as nearly all the power developed at the Falls is used in this way no provision is made for a direct current. Where a direct current is desired the electricity is made to drive a dynamo of the alternating type which in turn is made to drive another of the kind of current desired. Establishments on or near the grounds use the power furnished them direct from the power-house. When the power must be transmitted to a distance, it becomes necessary to use a step-up transformer for the purpose of losing as little power as necessary in the transmission, this to produce a higher voltage. When the current reaches those places where it is to be used a low voltage is again obtained by the step-down transformer.
Almost, if not quite as interesting as the development of all this power, together with its transmission, are the manufacturing establishments springing up here to take advantage of the great opportunities offered by the harnessing of this mighty cataract. Among those which stretch along the river for several miles are to be found those interested in the manufacture of carborundum, aluminum, carbide, graphite, caustic potash, muriatic acid, emery wheels, railway supplies, hook-and-eye fastenings, and shredded wheat, which are of special interest to the visitor.
Industrialism has seized upon the immense power of Niagara and is now shaping it into commodities for the use of man. Now what is the real menace to the Falls? Many lament the erection of the power plants and manufacturing establishments in the vicinity; but those, at least already in existence, have come to stay. So we may turn our attention from the marring of the surrounding beauty to the Falls themselves.
Geological changes are taking place so slowly that they need not be reckoned with as a probable destroyer of the Falls for ages yet to come. Moreover, their effect is treated in another chapter. The history of the Niagara Falls Hydraulic Power and Manufacturing Company, as a user of power from the Falls, antedates even its legislative recognition. Between the years of 1888 and 1894 nine companies were recognised or chartered in the State of New York. These charters were granted very freely, no revenue was required for the use of the waters, and in some cases no limitation was placed upon the amount to be used. Of these charters, all were granted in good faith; but it is very doubtful if all were received in that spirit. Some of the companies failed to effect an organisation, others offered to sell their rights as soon as obtained. Various limitations were put upon the time in which work must be begun. At least three of the charters have lapsed by their own time limitations, one franchise was sold by its original owners; one other shows at times faint signs of life; another is leading a questionable existence, while two, the Hydraulic Power and Manufacturing Company and the Niagara Falls Power Company, are producing and selling power. To these two organisations are to be credited the great industrial development on the American side and they are not yet using the amount of water allowed them by their charters.
As a result, of course, the flow of water is of smaller volume; but this cannot be perceived by the casual observer. However] citizens of Niagara Falls insist that the decreased flow is manifested in other ways; such as the annual gorging of ice at the head of the American channel almost laying this channel bare and sending its water to the Canadian side. This happens very rarely with a normal depth. Besides this it became necessary not long ago The two American companies are not expecting to diminish their consumption of water in any way. The growing demands for power have caused each continually to enlarge its plants. The Niagara Falls Power Company, realising the great growing demand for cheap power, has obtained a large interest in one of the Canadian companies. The amount of water which may be used by these companies according to charter limits is as follows:
Niagara Falls Hydraulic Power and Manufacturing Co
7,700 CU. ft. per sec.
Niagara Falls Power Company
8,600 ” ” ” ”
Total 16,300 ” ” ”
The power produced by these companies at present is no fair estimate of the amount of water taken from the river. On the American side, below the steel arch bridge, may be seen what is called the ” back yard view of Niagara.” Here a number of small cascades are seen spouting from the side of the cliff, only a small part of the fall being utilised by the factories situated there. Some of this water is now being collected into penstocks, to be utilised again at the base of the cliff.
On turning to the three Canadian companies, those of the American side pale beside their gigantic proportions. In contrast with the companies chartered, it may be said that none of these is inactive; on the contrary they are giving the strongest manifestations of energy. Following are the limits to which they may make use of Niagara’s waters:
Canadian Niagara Power Co
8,900 cu. ft. per sec.
Ontario Power Co
Toronto and Niagara Power Co
11,200 ” ” ”
Total 32,100 ” ” ”
Adding to this total the charter limits of the two American companies now operating, the grand total is raised to 48,400 cubic feet per second. This of itself is a dry fact and does not form much of a percentage of the whole volume going over the Falls. Such a loss would not mean so much if it would manifest itself the same along the whole crest of the line of the cliff ; but here must be taken into consideration the configuration of the bed of the river.
The bed of Niagara is composed of rock which dips gradually and uniformly westward. The ledge is ten feet higher on the American side than on the Canadian. The water of the American fall is therefore ten feet shallower. The amount of water going over the Falls has been variously estimated, engineers differing in their conclusions as much as sixty thousand cubic feet per second. Averages based upon the estimates of United States engineers for forty years, of the amount of mean flow of water passing Buffalo from Lake Erie, shows 222,400 cubic feet per second. This of course does not make allowance for that taken by the Welland and the Erie canals. This is probably about equalised by the amount entering the lake and river between this city and the Falls] so that the figures forming the basis of most computations are 224,000 cubic feet per second. The amount of power capable of development by the Falls is about 3,800,000 horse-power, which would be greatly increased by adding the fall from the beginning of the rapids to the crest of the cataract. Goat Island, situated just off the American shore, divides the waters very unevenly, sending more than three-fourths the volume toward the Canadian shore. Now, as has been seen, less than one-fourth the whole volume pours clown the American channel; and as this is much shallower than the main body of water, it is here that any diminished flow will be first felt. At the head of the island the great body of the current turns toward the west, by far the larger amount converging into the funnel of the magnificent Horseshoe Falls. The American channel in contrast contains a very feeble flow, and therefore would be the first to exhibit any dearth of water.
Calculations based upon the preceding figures, taking into consideration the length of the Falls, and the difference in elevation of the river’s bed at the crest, show that when the flow has been reduced by 184,000 cubic feet per second, or by 40,000 cubic feet, the water in the American channel will be brought down to the rock bottom of the shore’s edge. Then, although the Horseshoe Falls will continue to be an object of admiration to the traveller] and although the current will continue to sweep through the American channel and over the American Falls, the beauty and grandeur of the latter will fade away. Let the amount of water abstracted from the river be doubled, and, though the Canadian Falls would still continue an object of admiration, the American channel would be entirely dry.
Returning to the present and immediately contemplated draft upon the river’s waters, we find that the two American and the three Canadian companies, when using their charter limits, will take 48,000 cubic feet per second. This will bring the level at the crest of the Falls down to the bottom of the river at the American shore. This, then, is the immediate prospect. Many things may intervene before this point is reached. We are not permitted to stop, however, with the consideration of these five companies alone. One of the last organisations chartered by the State of New York to obtain water from Niagara is the Niagara Lockport and Ontario Power Company. In 1894, this company obtained a franchise placing no restriction upon the amount of water to be used] and limited to ten years in which to begin work. In 1904, they came again to the Legislature, asking for an improved charter in several respects, especially a lengthening of time in which to begin operations. This company proposed to take water from near La Salle and not to return it to the river at all, but to take it overland by canal to Lockport and then empty it directly into Lake Ontario. The bill providing for this charter passed both houses, but it was vetoed by Governor Odell. The veto took place on May 15, 1904. The original charter was granted on May 2I, 1894. Six days of grace yet remained of the ten years allowed the company. There is said to be a slender, shallow ditch south of Lockport, which represents the work done in the six days left. It has been rumoured that the most of this company’s stock has passed into the hands of a great corporation. Undoubtedly, under some form of reorganisation, there will] in the near future, be an attempt on the part of its members to gain a share of the great free power of Niagara. Under the old charter, which does not limit the amount of water to be consumed, it will probably not consume less than the other large companies, say 10,000 cubic feet per second.
But the only danger to the life of the Falls is not to be found alone in the Niagara power companies. Six hundred miles to the west is the Chicago Main Drainage Canal, which at first took from the Lakes about three thousand cubic feet per minute. Many propositions have been made to enlarge this canal. These are fraught with taxing engineering problems; but it is difficult to say just what the future has in store in this line. This, however, is not all; Canada, in the hope of gaining part of the commerce of the Great Lakes for the St. Lawrence, has proposed a canal by way of Georgian Bay and the Ottawa River, thus shortening the lake route by five hundred miles. To these may be added propositions for a deep-water connection between the Lakes and the Hudson, between Lake Winnipeg and Lake Superior, between Toronto and Lake Huron, the demands of Cincinnati and Pittsburg for canals, Wisconsin’s desire for a canal connecting the Lakes through her territory with the Mississippi, the plan for a canal from Duluth to the Mississippi; and one may see with what danger this great natural wonder is threatened. Many of these proposed plans, doubtless, will never be realised; some on account of engineering difficulties, others on account of the failure of their projectors to count upon the true relation between cost of construction and what would likely be the revenue obtained. All these subjects, however, must be given due consideration by one who desires to know what is considered to be the immediate danger to the Falls, or that which may effect them at no very distant future date.
On January 18, 1907, Secretary of War Taft rendered a decision under the Burton Act for the preservation of Niagara Falls on the applications of American companies for the use of water and of Canadian companies wishing to send electric power into the United States, and at the same time announced the appointment of a commission to beautify the vicinity of the Falls. The amount of water allowed to companies in New York is practically that now used, and substantially as limited by the Act of Congress as a maximum. The Secretary found no evidence that the flow over the American Falls has been injuriously affected in recent years. The claims of the Canadian companies, acting in conjunction with electric companies on this side of the river, had to be materially cut down to come within the law limiting the total current to 160,000 horse-power. The, allotments in electric horse-power to be transmitted to the United States are as follows:
The International Railway Company, 1500. (8000 asked).
The Ontario Power Company, 60,000 (90,000 asked).
The Canadian Niagara Falls Power Company, 52,500 (121,500 asked).
The Electrical Development Company, 46,000 (62,000 asked).
All these permits are revocable at pleasure, and, in the absence of further legislation in Congress, will expire on June 29, 1909.
In the course of his decision, after discussing the intent of the law, Mr. Taft says:
Acting upon the same evidence which Congress had, and upon the additional statement made to me at the hearing by Dr. John M. Clark, state geologist of New York, who seems to have been one of those engaged from the beginning in the whole movement for the preservation of Niagara Falls] and who has given close scientific attention to the matter] I have reached the conclusion that with the diversion of r 5,600 cubic feet on the American side and the transmission of 160,000 horse-power from the Canadian side the scenic grandeur of the Falls will not be affected substantially or perceptibly to the eye.
With respect. to the American Falls, this is an increase of only 2500 cubic feet a second over what is now being diverted and has been diverted for many years, and has not affected the Falls as a scenic wonder.
With respect to the Canadian side] the water is drawn from the river in such a way as not to affect the American Falls at all, because the point from which it is drawn is considerably below the level of the water at the point where the waters separate above Goat Island, and the Waterways Commission and Dr. Clark agree that the taking of 13]000 cubic feet from the Canadian side will not in any way affect or reduce the water going over the American Falls_ The water going over the Falls on the Canadian side of Goat Island is about five times the volume of that which goes over the American Falls, or] counting the total as 220]000 cubic feet a second] the volume of the Horseshoe Falls would be about 180,000 cubic feet. If the amount withdrawn on the Canadian side for Canadian use were 5000 cubic feet a second] which it is not likely to be during the three years’ life of these permits] the total to be withdrawn would not exceed ten per cent. of the volume of the stream, and, considering the immense quantity which goes over the Horseshoe Falls] the diminution would not be perceptible to the eye.
Taking up first the application for permits for diversion on the American side, there is not room for discussion or difference. The Niagara Falls Power Company is now using about 8600 cubic feet of water a second and producing about 76,630 horsepower. There is some question as to the necessity of using some water for sluicing. This must be obtained from the 8600 cubic feet permitted, and the use of the water for other purposes when sluicing is being done must be diminished. The Niagara Falls Hydraulic Power and Manufacturing Company is now using 4000 cubic feet a second and has had under construction for a period long antedating the Burton Act a plant arranged to divert 2 500 cubic feet a second and furnish 36]000 horse-power to the Pittsburg Reduction and Mining Company. A permit will therefore issue to the Niagara Falls Hydraulic Power and Manufacturing Company for the diversion of 6500 cubic feet a second, and the same rule must obtain as to sluicing, as already stated.
As the object of the act is to preserve the scenic beauty of Niagara Falls, I conceive it to be within my power to impose conditions upon the granting of these permits, compliance with which will remedy the unsightly appearance that is given the American side of the canyon just below the falls on the American side, where the tunnel of the Niagara Falls Power Company discharges and where the works of the hydraulic company are placed.
The representative of the American Civic Association has properly described the effect upon the sightseer of the view toward the side of the canyon to be that of looking into the back yard of a house negligently kept_ For the purpose of aiding me in determining what ought to be done to remove this eyesore, including the appearance of the buildings at the top, I shall appoint a committee consisting of Charles F. McKim] Frank D. Millet, and F. L. Olmsted to advise me what changes] at an expense not out of proportion to the extent of the investment, can be made which will put the side of the canyon at this point from bottom to top in natural harmony with the Falls and the other surroundings] and will conceal] as far as possible, the raw commercial aspect that now offends the eye. This consideration has been in view in the construction of works on the Canadian side and in the buildings of the Niagara Falls Power Company, above the Falls. There is no reason why similar care should not be enforced here.
Water is being withdrawn from the Erie Canal at the lake level for water-power purposes, and applications have been made for permits authorising this. Not more than four hundred cubic feet are thus used in the original draft of water that is not returned to the canal in such a way as not to lower the level of the lake. The water is used over and over again. It seems to me that the permit might very well be granted to the first user. As the water is taken from the canal, which is state property, and the interest and jurisdiction of the federal government grow out of the direct effect upon the level of the lake, the permit should recite that this does not confer any right upon a consumer of the water to take the water from the canal without authority and subject to the conditions imposed by the canal authorities, but that it is intended to operate and its operation is limited to confer, so far as the federal government is concerned and the Secretary of War is authorised, the right to take the water and to claim immunity from any prosecution or legal objection under the fifth section of the Burton Act.
When Sir Hiram S. Maxim, the distinguished inventor and scientist, made his recent announcement to Peter Cooper Hewitt that the next great achievement of science would be the harnessing of the whole energy of Niagara and the sending of a message to Mars, he hit the nail, in the opinion of Nikola Tesla, squarely on the head.
Mr. Tesla announces that with the co-operation of power-producing companies at Niagara Falls he is preparing to hail Mars with Niagara’s voice. A way has been found at last for transmitting a wireless message across the gulf, varying from 40,000,000 to 1000,000,000 miles, which separates this earth from Mars. Once that has been accomplished and Mars, which is considerably older and supposedly more advanced in science than we, has acknowledged the receipt of our signal and sent back flash for flash, it will remain to devise an interplanetary code through the medium of which the scientists of this world and of Mars will be able to understand what each is saying to the other.
Mr. Tesla has been quietly working for several years on a wireless power plant capable of transmitting 10,000 horse-power to any part of the world, or to any of our neighbouring planets, for that matter. The mere matter of distance between despatching and receiving points is absolutely no object whatever. Wireless power, Mr. Tesla says may be sent one million or more miles just as easily as one mile.
Several of the electric power companies with immense generating plants at Niagara Falls, it is reported, have agreed to co-operate with Mr. Testa in an effort to reach Mars by wireless.
The development of the hydraulic power of Niagara on the Canadian side is leading to some interesting sequences.
A tribunal called the hydro-electric power commission has been created [says a writer in a recent issue of Cassier's Maga], and in the hands of this body has been placed the entire domestic regulation of the power product of stations coming within government control.
In addition there has been given to the various municipalities the right to undertake the distribution of electrical energy within their respective limits.
In order that the commission may be in a position to dictate terms to the existing private companies it is important that the co-operation of the municipalities be obtained, and this appears to be partially accomplished.
The city of Toronto has already arranged for 15,000 horsepower of electric energy from Niagara] the price being $14 to $16 per horse-power for a supply for a 24-hour day, including transmission to Toronto, the local distribution to be in the hands of the municipality, and it is believed that a number of other cities and towns will make similar arrangements.
These arrangements are made with the hydro-electric power commission, and it in turn must either secure the power supply from the existing private companies or else proceed to develop its own stations.
It is hardly probable that the latter alternative will be found necessary, since the result would be to leave the private corporations with the greater part of their prospective custom permanently taken away] so that the real consequence of the recent legislation is to compel the companies to supply the municipalities through the commission at prices determined by the engineers of the new body.
It is possible that such measures will prove advantageous to the public] but much will depend upon the manner in which the law is carried out. It has been intimated that this legislation will render it exceedingly difficult for promoters to induce outside capital to engage in the development of natural resources in Canada hereafter.
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