Go inside the newest Niagara Falls attraction: ‘The Tunnel’

NIAGARA FALLS, Canada (WIVB) — Many of us have seen Niagara Falls many times, but few people have seen it from the point of view that recently opened in Canada.

The Niagara Parks Power Station was the first hydroelectric plant in Canada. It harnessed the power of the mighty Horseshoe Falls for 101 years, before shutting down in 2006. The plant was decommissioned because it was generating a measurement of power that was too small, becoming outdated. So, last year, after years of planning and renovating, ‘The Tunnel’ opened to the public to enjoy.

“Everything is intact as it was built from 1901-1905,” David Adames said, the CEO of Niagara Parks Canada.

Eleven original generators are intact there, which created the power that was used in Fort Erie, Niagara Falls and other parts of Southern Ontario. New exhibits inside, including a night-time immersive experience, teaches visitors of all ages about hydroelectricity.

“So the water would come in from the river, go through these trash racks. that would protect trash coming in, whether it be logs and what-not from the river,” Adames said. “The water would then go into a penstock and the elevation drop would give it the velocity to get the turbines turning.”

As the turbines move, electricity is created and sent to the generators above. The water then returns to the Lower Niagara, below The Falls, via a 2,200-foot tunnel, which is the center point of this attraction.

Jim is a tour guide at ‘The Tunnel’ with a unique back story. For years, he worked maintenance at the power station before it closed in 2006. His dad was also an electrician there, and his uncle was an operator inside for more than 40 years.

To get down to the tunnel, you’ll take a glass elevator, showing you all the layers of the power station. And you’ll immediately notice the temperature drop.

“So the temperature is about 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and interesting it stays constant year-round,” Adames said.

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The tunnel looks as if it did when water was flowing through it, except for the path that was built for people to walk on.

“It’s all concrete, so for any guests using a walker or wheelchair, it is fully accessible.”

After walking for about 10 minutes, you can see the light at the end of the tunnel: the crown jewel of the attraction is a platform that took about 3-4 months to complete. It jets visitors out, for a better view of The Falls.

“All the building materials were craned over the gorge wall,” Adames said. “So all the concrete and materials, including a backhoe were craned over the gorge wall. Construction was completed… and everything was craned back up.”

The platform gives you a view like no other in the area. You can wave to people on the Maid of the Mist or Canada’s Niagara City Cruises as they pass by. And be ready to get a little wet. Nearly 700,000 gallons of water per second flows over the Horseshoe Falls right beside visitors.

“You get the great view, and sometimes a little bit of mist,” Adames said. “It’s very immersive.”

For hours and tickets, click here.

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Kelsey Anderson is an award-winning anchor who came back home to Buffalo in 2018. See more of her work here and follow her on Twitter.

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