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National Register of Historic Places Program

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.

 

Property Name Schoellkopf Power Station No. 3 Site
Reference Number 13000029
State New York
County Niagara
Town Niagara Falls
Street Address East Bank of Niagara River, 1,600 feet downriver from Rainbow Bridge, Niagara Falls, NY
Multiple Property Submission Name N/A
Status Listed 02/20/2013
Areas of Significance
Link to full file http://www.nps.gov/history/nr/feature/places/pdfs/13000029.pdf
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The Schoellkopf Power Station Site is significant for its association with the dramatic events of June 7, 1956, when water seeping into its back wall precipitated the spectacular collapse of the southern two-thirds of the station (Powerhouses 3B and 3C) into the Niagara River gorge. The disaster caused approximately $20 million (approximately $168 million in 2012 dollars) in damages, with its most immediate consequence being the loss of 450,000 kilowatts of power from the New York State power grid. The remains of Stations 3B and 3C were allowed to topple into the gorge or were razed soon after, creating the present site and leaving Schoellkopf Station 3A still operating, but at reduced capacity, for the next five years. In addition to its immediate effects, the disaster was the major impetus for Congressional passage of the 1957 Niagara Redevelopment Act, which cleared the way to grant a federal license to the Power Authority of the State of New York (now New York Power Authority or NYPA) to build and operate the Niagara Power Project (NPP), a massive hydro-electric power station and reservoir complex that was significantly larger than the Schoellkopf station. Passage of this act is considered the culmination of the long effort to place public utilities in the hands of government agencies rather than consign them to private, profit-making power companies, a movement that had begun as early as 1907, when New York Governor Charles Evans Hughes sought legislative support for a plan to restore control of New York's waterpower to the people. The New York Power Authority's completion of the Niagara Power Project in 1961 marked the end of exclusive private ownership of hydro-electric power generation at Niagara Falls. Powerhouse 3A subsequently ceased operation and was demolished in 1962 as part of Robert Moses's beautification efforts along the American side of the Niagara River, leaving only a stone wall constructed as part of a much earlier 1908-1910 beautification effort. Two other early industrial features (the elevator shaft and the powerhouse 3A tailraces) were also part of the 1908-1910 project.

 

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