Part I:
Generating Electricty

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"The Electric City of the World"

In Buffalo the use of electricity is becoming general, and the community is living up to its name-the Electric City. Particularly is the application of this force to all domestic requirements becoming popular; such as for house lights, heat for cooking and laundry purposes, for operating sewing machines, mechanical elevators, and so forth.

From A History of the City of Buffalo, Its Men and Institutions (1908)

Buffalo entered the twentieth century on the cutting edge of modern technology. The array of Buffalo industries that benefited or emerged from the cheap, reliable power at the time is impressive. Included were grain elevators; blast furnaces and rolling mills; flour mills; engine and boiler works; hardware factories; brass foundries; lumber mills; soap and starch factories; car, carriage, and wagon shops; malting and brewing companies; tanneries; and furniture making shops. The successful relationship between industry and electricity assured continuing development of domestic applications.

Distribution of Niagara Power
E.D. Adams Niagara Power Vol. 2

  Original Pole-Line Transmission to Buffalo
E.D. Adams Niagara Power Vol. 2, p. 277



Buffalo General Electric
Collection of the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society

In 1892, Brush Electric Light Company and Thompson-Houston Electric Light Company merged and became Buffalo General Electric Company. Under the management of Charles R. Huntley, the company emerged as a model for centralized distribution of electrical power. Huntley’s role as vice-president of the Cataract Power and Conduit Company, which installed and operated the transmission lines leading from Niagara Falls to Buffalo, guaranteed Buffalo General Electric Company’s success as a power distributor.

Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo 1901 (Machinery & Transportation Building) No larger view.

Fun Facts About the Falls

  • Niagara Falls began over 12,000 years ago and approximately seven miles north, at what is now Lewiston, New York -- Queenston, Ontario.
  • The average height of the American Falls is 176 feet with a crest length of 1,100 feet. Approximately 75,750 gallons per second, or 10 percent of the water flows over the American Falls.
  • The average height of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls is 167 feet with a crest line length of 2,500 feet. Approximately 681,750 gallons per second, or 90 percent of the water flows over the Canadian Horseshoe Falls.
  • Niagara is the biggest electricity producer in New York State, generating 2.4 million kilowatts -- enough power to light 24 million 100-watt bulbs at once.
  • Up to 375, 000 gallons of water a second flow from the Niagara River through concrete conduits to the Robert Moses Niagara Power Station.
  • Ninety percent of the power produced at the Robert Moses Plant stays in Western New York.
  • On November 9, 1965, one fault relay at the Sir Adam Beck Station in Ontario resulted in the largest blackout in history. The Great Northeast Blackout left 30 million people without electricity for as long as 13 hours.