Article ID: CBB001213629

“A Completely Man-Made and Artificial Cataract”: The Transnational Manipulation of Niagara Falls (2013)

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Macfarlane, Daniel (Author)


Environmental History
Volume: 18, no. 4
Issue: 4
Pages: 759-784

Over the first half of the twentieth century, Canada and the United States considered engineering works that would simultaneously divert water around Niagara Falls for hydroelectric production while ostensibly maintaining and enhancing the appearance of the great cataract. Binational studies and environmental diplomacy resulted in the 1950 Niagara Diversion Treaty, which authorized the International Niagara Control Works. The construction of these remedial works in the 1950s physically reconfigured Niagara Falls and the Niagara River immediately above the falls in order to divert water while masking the scenic effect of lower flow volumes. As a result, depending on the time of day, up to three-quarters of the Niagara River's water does not go over the falls but is sent via massive tunnels to hydroelectric generating stations downstream. During debates in the following decades about further remedial works, public opinion helped stop some modifications of Niagara Falls, signifying a shift in attitudes. Using multiple archives from both countries, including the International Joint Commission, this study uncovers the conceptual and physical engineering of the Niagara landscape and waterscape in the middle decades of the twentieth century. The modern history of the manipulation of Niagara Falls highlights both shared and differing Canadian and American conceptions of the links between border waters, progress, technology, and nationalism.

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Authors & Contributors
Macfarlane, Daniel
Fridlund, Mats
Connor, Jennifer J.
Slotten, Hugh Richard
Mamelund, Svenn-Erik
Dimka, Jessica
Journals
Environmental History
Book History
Diplomatic History
Social Science History
Structural Chemistry: Computational and Experimental Studies of Chemical and Biological Systems
Journal of Historical Geography
Publishers
Brutus Östlings Bokförlag Symposion
University Press of Kansas
Universidad de los Andes
MA, Belknap Press
Harvard University
Columbia University Press
Concepts
Technology and politics
Hydroelectric power
Nationalism
Engineering
Environment
Cross-national comparison
People
Osler, William
Hitler, Adolf
Places
United States
Canada
Niagara falls
Soviet Union
Germany
Sweden
Times
20th century, early
20th century
20th century, late
19th century
Institutions
Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory
United States. Army. Corps of Engineers
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