There is a long history of Niagara Falls and the Niagara escarpment being used to create hydro electric power. The two large hydro power plants on both sides of the border are on full display down river from Niagara Falls just before Lewiston New York.
When the Niagara Power Plant was completed in 1961 a visitors center was also constructed called the Niagara Power Vista. The Niagara Power Vista still stands today as a source for information on the plant as well as interesting displays and audio visual presentations.
The Niagara Power Vista has free admission and parking and is located adjacent to Niagara University.
Visitors are treated to a scaled-down relief map of the entire Niagara region inside the top floor of the Power Vista. This map has been updated to reflect the change in geography and new business development over the years and offers a great aerial vision of what the Niagara region looks like down to scale. It also demonstrates with an audio presentation how Niagara River water is diverted to generate electricity.
The Power Vista is situated 350 feet above the Niagara River and the glass enclosed facility offers an excellent view both inside and out of the Niagara Gorge and neighboring power stations on each side of the river.
Visitors can learn how water enters the project, drops through the penstocks and spins huge turbines generating electricity. If weather permits, the formal tour will also include an outdoor visit to the forebay area and a spare turbine.
The entire Niagara Power Plant was built in three years by more than 11,700 workers and that history is preserved at the Power Vista.
A Power Vista favorite, the Basics of Electricity Show is tailored to the age of the audience and is also available during outreach programs. Each includes a demonstration of static electricity with the Van De Graaff generators, always a photo favorite.
There is also a 20-foot by seven foot original oil painting by Thomas Hart Benton depicting Father Hennepin discovering Niagara Falls.