Friday, April 25, 2014

Abandonnment Issues: Electrical Development Co. / HEPCO

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On Easter weekend of 2014, Ninja and I met with our newly married friends terapr0 and tash.0 and set our collective sights on Niagara Falls, more specifically, the long abandoned HEPCO (Hydro Electric Power Company of Ontario) building just west of the ferocious horseshoe falls that are one of the seven wonders of the world. I assume millions of tourists flock to Niagara Falls each year to take in its beauty and majesty. But only a small handful venture off of the beaten path of the tourist trap and explore its abandoned history.

With a passion not only for exploring, draining and craning, terapr0 is also passionate and knowledgeable about Niagara Falls and it's inner workings, so much so that he proclaims momentarily after gaining entry that he must research the exact use of the structure as soon as possible. He opines possibilities beyond my level of comprehension but assures me he will share whatever he discovers.

This is what terapr0 learned and shared, only days later, in his own words...

"Set well back from the garish hustle of the Niagara Falls tourist area lies an unassuming brick building. Looking tired from decades of neglect, the casual observer wouldn’t be blamed for thinking it was just another empty building, in an area rife with derelict structures. There are no signs or headstones to tell you what this building was, when it was built or how it played a pivotal role in the development of modern society as we know it today. Like so many other historically significant buildings in Niagara Falls, this monument to human achievement and innovation has been forgotten.

Constructed sometime between 1903-1904, the transformer house of the Electrical Development Company was the apparatus through which electricity produced at the main generating station could be stepped up in voltage and transmitted to markets as far away as Toronto. What seems commonplace now, was actually a marvel of technical ingenuity at the time – humans had only just discovered and begun to perfect the generation and transmission of AC power, and the plant of the Electrical Development Company was on the forefront of this technical revolution.

Connected to the main power station by 4 underground conduits, the building was designed to take the electricity from the plants massive generators, channel it through fifteen oil-immersed, water-cooled 2,670kw transformers, where it would be stepped up to 40,000, 50,000 or 60,000 volts for long distance transmission. Once stepped up to a suitable voltage, the power was routed through porcelain bushings at the rear of the building where it joined the long-distance transmission line constructed by the Toronto and Niagara Power Company. Until this point in history, it was only possible to transmit electricity short distances, and at relatively low voltages. Through the pioneering work of the famed inventor and physicist Nikola Tesla, companies like the Electrical Development Co. were some of the first to experiment with these exciting new technologies on a grand scale.

The next time you turn on your TV or flip a light switch, stop to think for a minute about that electricity, where it came from, and how it got there. It’s an incredible story with many chapters and many players, but if you trace it back to the beginning you’ll find yourself at buildings like this at Niagara Falls. Although I doubt anything meaningful will ever be done to preserve this building, or the actual generating stations themselves, I hope that through my photos and words you can come to understand at least a bit about them, and why they mean so much to me."


-terapr0

I couldn't have said it better myself, and thanks to terapr0, I don't have to. 

Cheers my friend it has been a pleasure and a joy getting out there exploring with you and your wonderful wife. Even worth all the bee stings and tick infestations and mould infections and allergy attacks, can't wait till next time!

And then we went our separate ways, to our respective family Easter get togethers. And we cheered and ate and basked in love.

And so now without any further adieu, come with us and explore the abandoned
Electrical Development Company's transformer house...

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From atop the roof, I could hear Niagara Falls roaring

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"A view out onto the 50 ton gantry track which would have been used to install and service the enormously heavy transformers and switches. Unfortunately it was parked down at the far end, inaccessible without rope." -terapro

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The final photo, our group shot, was taken by terapr0 @ tohellandback

lACHLAN Hepco group staircase shot

Extra special thanks to terapr0 for the excellent research and willingness to share it with us to be featured here.

Thanks again terapr0 and tash.0, it has been a joy exploring with you guys.

click here to check out all of jerm & ninja IX's ABANDONMENT ISSUES

3 comments:

JC said...

That spiral staircase is just gorgeous.

Sue K said...

Really enjoy the history. Cheers!

Unknown said...

Amazing spot. I have been to Niagara Falls a few times, and loved the old power infrastructure and buildings. Yeah, it's touristy, but if you look past it there is a lot of awesome old stuff.

Great shots.