Niagara Gazette

Local News

May 26, 2006

The collapse of Schoellkopf

It was the turning point for the City of Niagara Falls, a devastating blow to the area economy and an ironic end to the debate over public versus private power development.

When the Schoellkopf Power Station collapsed into the Niagara Gorge on June 7, 1956, it wiped out in seconds nearly 25 percent of the city’s tax base. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the collapse.

At the time, the Niagara Mohawk Power Corp., which owned the 60-year-old facility, was the largest municipal taxpayer.

The huge generating complex had been capable of producing 450,000 (kw) of power. It was often called the world’s greatest hydroelectric plant.

Shortly after the earth and rock slide, two-thirds of the station was reduced to twisted girders, rock and rubble in the lower Niagara River. Three 70,000-horsepower and three 32,500-horsepower generators went into the river.

The rocks cascading from the cliff crushed six penstocks that carried water from the canal at the top of the gorge to the generator station, which hugged the steep side of the gorge.

When several workers started screaming, “Let’s get out of here!,” nearly everyone dashed the length of the generator floor to the north end. They then climbed through a small door and scrambled along the shoreline toward the Niagara Falls Incinerator Plant where they hiked up a service road to the top.

Chris Nelson, a 25-year-old plant operator, recalled: “All of a sudden I saw a crack open up...and I made tracks, headed down the floor to the north. I thought maybe I could get the elevator up, but it was too late...there were rocks falling behind me, and I was running. The water was chasing me down the floor.”

Ironically, only one person — Richard Draper, Ridge Road, Lewiston — was killed. He and two other workers, Louis Bernstein and Robert Chapman, were caught outside the building at the south end, closer to the Rainbow Bridge.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
Featured Ads
Seasonal Content
House Ads
AP Video
Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US
House Ads
Night & Day
Twitter News
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Front page

Do you think cigarette sales to non-Native American customers should be taxed on reservations?

Yes. Items should be taxed like they are everywhere else.
No, the indian reservations are sovereign land and they are selling them on their land.
Not up to me. Native Americans decide the rules on their land.
Don't care. Smoking isn't good for you.
     View Results