Niagara Falls is a natural and geological wonder that shines during the day, but at night the illuminated Niagara Falls is one of the most magnificent sights in the world. In fact, viewing Niagara Falls at night as they are illuminated by powerful lights mounted on the Canadian side of the border is one of the very best times to enjoy their beauty.
The American Falls, Bridal Falls and the Horseshoe Falls are illuminated from the Illumination Tower located on the Canadian side of the Falls from April until the end of the year.
The structure where the huge lights are located was actually once part of the Ontario Power Generating Station built in 1906. This structure also served as an observation building for tourists for many years before the modern Towers were constructed in the 1960’s.
The round circular building was originally constructed as a surge tank which was used when too much water was passing through the Ontario Power Plant pen-stocks and it needed to be housed elsewhere, thus the surge tank.
The first recorded illumination of Niagara Falls was done in 1860 to celebrate a visit by the Prince of Wales. Since then Niagara Falls has been illuminated by several different sources of light for up to nine months a year.
In 1997 and 1998, new fixtures replaced outdated lamps and fixtures at the Illumination Tower, doubling the intensity of the lights on the Falls without doubling the hydro bills. Currently a total of twenty-one xenon lights, each with a 76-cm (30 in) diameter, are used to illuminate Niagara Falls in a rainbow of colors.
Eighteen are located at the Illumination Tower, beside the Queen Victoria Place and three are located below street level in the gorge opposite the American Falls. Each of the xenon spotlights produces more than 390 million peak beam and has a brilliance of 250 million candlepower.
The illuminated Niagara Falls can be seen nightly until 10 p.m. January through April, and until midnight the rest of the year.