Nikola Tesla participated with his patents in the construction of the first big generators for polyphase currents as testified by the plate from one of the generators of the Niagara Plant (1895) which lists 13 of Tesla’s patents, all used in the construction of Niagara Falls Power Plant.
Niagara Falls is synonymous with power, and it has been a natural phenomenon as tons of water crash over the solid limestone cliff, in a constant cloud of mist from the plummeting waters.
Few know that Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse built the first hydro-electric power plant in Niagara Falls and started the electrification of the world. Adam’s Power Station (Power House No. 3), the only remains of the old Niagara Falls Power Plant, may become a science museum. This museum would be devoted to Niagara Falls Power Plant, the first hydro-electric power plant in the world, this location is a great turning stone in the history of electricity. This Video tells the full story!
Here is how Tesla viewed it in his own words:
“We have many a monument of past ages; we have the palaces and pyramids, the temples of the Greek and the cathedrals of Christendom. In them is exemplified the power of men, the greatness of nations, the love of art and religious devotion. But the monument at Niagara has something of its own, more in accord with our present thoughts and tendencies. It is a monument worthy of our scientific age, a true monument of enlightenment and of peace. It signifies the subjugation of natural forces to the service of man, the discontinuance of barbarous methods, the relieving of millions from want and suffering”– Nikola Tesla’s speech at the opening ceremony of the hydroelectric power station, January 12, 1897.
Among the various inventions that lived in his three-dimensional imagination, Nikola Tesla, a famous Croatian inventor, had always dreamed of using the falls of Niagara to build a power plant knowing this nature’s energy could power machines. In 1893, this dream became closer to manifesting when George Westinghouse, an inventor himself and entrepreneur that Tesla had been working for as a power developer and engineer, was granted the contract to build the powerhouse.
In 1895 the first major hydro-electric power plant in the world was built in Niagara Falls, NY and was delivering power. It was designed by Tesla and financed by Westinghouse, as well as other investors, including J.P. Morgan. At this time, there were three generators set up of 5,000 horsepower each, which produced 2,200 volts.
The plant was fueled by Tesla’s invention of alternating currents and harnessed power from the falls for long distance electricity. It was the first electrification of the world and sent power about twenty-two miles from Niagara to Buffalo, NY at midnight on November 16, 1896. New York City, about 400 miles away from the power plant, later received Niagara’s energy, powering its electric lights. By 1905, it was producing and providing one tenth of the United States’ electrical power.
Despite Tesla’s Significant Involvement, He Was Not The Only Mind Behind This Facility.
A group of engineers formed the team that would make this idea into a reality. Thomas Evershed conducted work on the Erie Canal and was a water power engineer, among other things.
With the harnessing attention Niagara’s power was gaining, this became an opportunity to leave a final mark at the age of sixty-nine and was his last major project. Electrical engineer Benjamin G. Lamme designed various apparatus, such as generators, motors, and rotary converters. He improved on Tesla’s generator designs, as well as built them. Before Tesla and Lamme, Oliver Shallenberger was a pioneer of AC power at Westinghouse.
He was responsible for developing the polyphase meters that were required for the power plant. Other Westinghouse engineers cited as contributors to Niagara power development are: William Stanley, a pioneer electrical inventor, Lewis B. Stillwell, Paul M. Lincoln, and mechanical engineer Albert Schmid. Together, still with even more involved, they initiated the beginning of the electrical age. The polyphase system of power created became the basis for following electrical power services utilized thereafter and presently.
The plant triggered development and the industrialization of Niagara Falls. The original Westinghouse generators remained in operation until 1961. Adam’s Power Station (Power House No. 3) is the only surviving remains of the Niagara Falls Power Plant.