UE: Ontario Power Company
I first explored this gem on my birthday in 2005. It was February and it was cold out. With snow and ice on the sidewalks surrounding the famous Niagara Falls. At 1 am on a cold February night, we walked down to the boardwalk. Only a few random tourists were there taking photos of the Falls. (with the flash on of course....... because you KNOW that will come out!!!) Near the Maid of the Mist building there is an access ramp which runs down the cliff to the abandoned power station. We hopped a small fence, and got onto this road. Walking down the road was fairly uneventful. It was interesting thinking of the tourists above us along the board walk, likely thinking 'wow, i can't believe I am here taking photos of Niagara Falls'. Meanwhile we were busy walking straight into the bowels of the beast, or so it seemed. The walk down the ramp seemed to take forever. It was icy and slippery, with some snow on the ground. Ours were the only tracks in the snow. I knew if someone saw these tracks, we would likely be compromised. But alas, the potential findings of a mostly unexplored power plant were a stronger power then the threat of getting caught. When we got to the bottom, the scene was impressive. The massive falls a backdrop to this building built into the cliff side. It did not take us long to find an unlocked door (it is amazing how people forget to lock doors in these places) on the roof, and we let ourselves in.
A shot of one of the roof access doors. The roof itself was so rough and covered in fallen rocks, it was hard to tell it was actually a roof.
Once inside, we were able to relax a little, as we were out of view from tourists. We took a few minutes setting up cameras and flashlights. During which I took this photo of an old stretcher. I found it was kind of curious to have a stretcher here in the fire escape. But then I realized it was likely used for jumpers. People who landed on the roof.
My first view of the generating room was awesome. I mean I knew the place was big, but wow. Previous to this, I had only been in Hearn and a few other locations of similar size. They were all fairly opened up and lit by natural light or still had some power. It was a lot different coming into a room the size of this which was pitch black.
These turbines were driven by water fed from huge tunnels (pipes) under Niagara Parkway. These tunnels were so large you could drive trucks in them. But we shall get back to that. The turbines themselves produced 25 cycle AC power which was used mainly for industrial applications. The plant was modified to produce 60 Hz in the 70's and continued in operation until 1999. In 1999 the land which the transformer station for the plant was located on, was purchased by the Casino. Parts of the Transformer station have been incorporated into the construction of the Casino.
It is actually quite interesting that this location was used to help develop my favorite game, Left4Dead. At least I am pretty sure it was. Take a look at these following photographs and compare them to in game screen shots.
Taken from one end of the plant, looking down the length of the plant. This image attempts to show you the scale.
Granted there is less detail, but even the ceiling rafters seem similar. It is even possible my photos were used as reference material for the game designers. It is very hard to say really.
The control room was kind of neat. But fairly simple really. It was nice however to see a control room which was not trashed and vandalized like the Hearn control room.
What was also very cool to find was John Candy's signature. He was in this power station during the filming of Canadian Bacon.
Sadly, in later visits we found that someone had stolen this section of the wall. It was actually physically cut out of the metal. Very sad.
But enough about that...
Lets see some of the cool shit I found.
Behind the control room there was a sealed door. One similar to those you may find on a submarine. We were able to open it after a lot of work. It had been rusted shut. Luckily some WD-40 was laying around.
This door led to the transformer station and valve chamber. It was literally a 60 or so degree slope heading up into the cliff, upwards towards street level. It looked sketchy, and possibly dangerous, so of course we ventured in.
It was fairly long. and Was a few minutes until we got to a sort of landing. We were actually climbing on top of a makeshift stairway on top of a giant pipe. The landing was at the valve chamber level.
Some of us stopped for a rest there, while myself and a few others continued up the cement stairs. The stairs were covered in slimy calcite and there was water flowing down them constantly.
We kind of hoped that it would come out into some storage room in the back of the Casino, and maybe we could grab a bag of money or something, hehe. But really, we were curious where it led, since the casino was built on top of the transformer station, and where else would this lead?
Eventually we got up to a upper landing, and there was a plywood board over a opening in the ceiling. We could not move it, and there was no other way out. We turned around and returned to the valve chambers. From here we climbed up a very narrow opening into the valve chamber.
It was quite neat being in the valve chamber. Knowing you were a few stories below the street was kind of neat in its own way. Also knowing that few people have likely been in here since the plant closed. Knowing that we did have to really work to get that door opened.
It was also neat to find images like this one in the public archives. Its like 'hey! I have seen that!'.
The valve chambers ran the length of the plant, and there were more then just valves in there. I got several artistic photos in there.
Eventually we found a modern stainless steel staircase, which led to a newer area, and an elevator. The elevator led back down to the plant. And more stairs led up to street level. Standing there behind the double glass 'store style' doors looking out onto Niagara Falls Parkway it was so tempting to call it a night. By this time it was about 6am, and the thought of climbing back down all the way into the plant, only to have to walk up a long road again was not really ideal. We unlocked the glass doors from the inside and left that way, leaving the doors unlocked. Surprisingly they remained unlocked for several weeks, allowing us a few more visits, before they were finally discovered and re-locked.
All in all it was a fun location. Last I heard, everything had been cleared out of it, including the generators, and it was being used as a storage space for the Park system.