Article ID: CBB743954854

Nature Empowered: Hydraulic Models and the Engineering of Niagara Falls (January 2020)


Under a 1950 U.S.-Canada treaty the majority of the Niagara River is diverted to massive hydroelectric complexes. To hide the aesthetic impact of turning Niagara Falls into an energy waterscape, and retain tourism, the waterfall was physically reshaped and shrunk, and remedial works were built to control water flows and hydropower diversions. To achieve this, hydraulic engineers from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Ontario Hydro relied on hydraulic models of Niagara Falls. Using an envirotech approach, I show how these physical hydraulic models were an integral part of the disguised design approach to remaking Niagara Falls, and I use this Niagara case study to critically explore the evolution of hydraulic modeling in early Cold War North America. The river and waterfall were transformed into a hybrid envirotechnical system, a submerged infrastructure that relied not only on steel and concrete, but also water, ice, and weeds.

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Authors & Contributors
Macfarlane, Daniel
Huizen, Philip Van
Daynes, Byron W.
Sussman, Glen
Stagg, Ronald John
Nystrom, Eric Charles
Environmental History
Technology and Culture
Pacific Historical Review
Cold War History
IA. The Journal of the Society for Industrial Archeology
Endeavour: Review of the Progress of Science
University of Toronto Press
Louisiana State University Press
Texas A&M University Press
Dundurn Press
University of Nevada Press
University of Minnesota
Public policy
Environmental history
Carr, Marjorie Harris
Leonardo da Vinci
United States
Niagara falls
Great Lakes (North America)
Gulf of Mexico
Florida (U.S.)
20th century
19th century
20th century, early
21st century
20th century, late
18th century
United States. Army. Corps of Engineers
European Commission of the Danube

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