Collection Facts

Extent: 
639 items
Dates of Original: 
1896-1956

Historical Context

In 1882, realizing the potential of Niagara for generating electricity on a commercial scale, Jacob Schoellkopf installed a small hydroelectric generation station, which provided electricity directly to the nearby town of Niagara Falls. As a result, the Niagara Falls Hydraulic Power and Manufacturing Company became the first company to generate hydroelectric power from Niagara Falls. This had a massive effect on Niagara Falls, which saw its population increase and employment in the power generating industry soared.

Throughout the years, the company would go through many changes. In March 1910, the Niagara Falls Hydroelectric Power and Manufacturing Co. was renamed to the Hydraulic Power Company. Then, facing bankruptcy in 1918, the company, with urging from the US government, consolidated with Edward Dean Adams and became the Niagara Power Company. Much later, it would become known as Niagara Mohawk. On June 7, 1956, the Schoellkopf Power Station was destroyed due to several rock slides which caused a portion of the gorge wall to collapse.

Scope of Collection

The Niagara Falls Hydraulic Power and Manufacturing Company: A Visual History Collection is comprised of over 600 photographs and 5 maps dating from approximately 1896-1956. These images document the construction of the power plant in its various phases and show workers building walls, placing generators, digging tunnels, digging the canal and doing many other tasks to complete the first power plant in Niagara Falls. There are later photographs of further construction, the buildings neglected in disuse and the collapse in 1956. There are also photographs of ALCOA, other industries, the Canal and the overall natural landscape.