Niagara Falls State Park, Maid of the Mist, and the Niagara Power Generation Plant
The morning after we viewed the falls from the Canadian side, we crossed the Rainbow International Bridge to New York, stopping at Niagara Falls State Park. From there we caught an early morning ride on the Maid of the Mist – one of the boats that travels upriver to nearly the base of Horseshoe Falls and then circles back to pass the American Bridal Veil Falls. It was a short boat ride but worth it since we got close to the thundering falls and had fun getting fairly soaked by the spray of the water hitting rock. Afterwords we viewed the gorge from the observation deck and walked down alongside the American Falls in the state park. The latter I enjoyed even more than the Behind the Falls Tour on the Ontario side of the river because you were able to get closer to the waterfall and experienced being surrounded in the clouds of mist at some points.
The Niagara Robert Moses Power Plant, located 4 miles below the falls, is a massive hydroelectric plant and an engineering marvel. During the daylight hours, 50 percent of the Niagara River is diverted above the falls and channeled over four miles underground to the forebay of the Lewiston Pump-Generating Plant; one there, it is released and falls down over the turbines of the power plant to generate electricity. What is unique about the Niagara Plant however is that at night, when 75 – 90% of the river is diverted but demand for electricity is significantly lower, the water is pumped from the forebay of the Lewiston Pump plant to a reservoir where water can be released during hours of greater demand during the day. Producing 2.4 million kilowatts a day, the plant regularly supplies power for two and a half million households.