Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/311

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PSM V73 D311 Ontario power company at niagara falls.png

Ontario Power Company, Niagara Falls, Ontario.

of engineers to install a large generator plant at Niagara Falls, discoveries were announced in the field of electrochemistry which if extensively developed would require the use of thousands of horse-power of electrical energy, and these discoveries encouraged the promoters of the great power project to believe that capital invested in the proposed plant would not be spent in vain. Moreover, the perfecting of an economical system of transmitting the electric current over considerable distances made it evident to engineers that very large quantities of Niagara power could be utilized commercially beyond the immediate vicinity of the power plants.

Two of the great power houses have been erected on the American side of the Niagara River somewhat over a mile from the crest of the cataract. In order to take advantage of the potential energy of the water and to afford an outlet for the water after its pressure has been used, two wheelpits were excavated out of solid limestone and shale about 177 feet deep, 18 feet wide and 450 feet long. Over each of these wheelpits was constructed a massive power house to contain the generators, switchboards, oil switches and other necessary apparatus. Extending vertically down the wheelpits to the depth of about 140 feet are hollow shafts to connect the generators on the power house floor with the turbines or water wheels below. Running parallel with each of the ten or eleven shafts in each power house is an immense pipe, or penstock as it is technically termed, of seven and one half feet in diameter through which water, after proper screening to remove ice and other obstructions, is conveyed from the intake canal to each turbine. After the large volume of water conveyed to