Free power



A hydroelectric plant may not sound like a compelling vacation attraction, but thirty years after my first trip to the Niagara Power Vista, the visitors center for the New York Power Authority continues to amaze me and delight the many people I’ve recommended it to. Located on the Robert Moses Parkway near the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge, this gleaming 1960s structure is perched 350 feet above the Niagara Gorge overlooking the U.S. and Canadian power stations. Its appeal extends to all ages: Cool interactive stations about the function/use of electricity, spectacular gorge views from observation decks, a film on the massive project’s construction, and exceptional displays of the region’s Native American culture. Not-to-be-missed highlights for me have always been the huge, stunning Thomas Hart Benton mural depicting Father Hennepin viewing Niagara Falls in 1687 and a 400-square-foot terrain map of the entire hydroelectric system, complete with small-scale models of all the surrounding buildings. The Niagara Power Project celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this year, and with brochure text such as “We’ve upped the wattage on fun” and “You’re sure to get a charge out of it” setting the tone, the festivities are sure to be … electrifying. For hours, directions, and a calendar of (free!) special events, pay a visit to www.nypa.gov/vc/niagara.htm.

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