Niagara Weekend Getaway | DAY 1: (Pt. 2) The Tunnel at Niagara Parks Power Station
Read Part 1 HERE !
The Niagara Parks Power Station was situated just west of Horseshoe Falls. Flat-rate parking would set visitors back $30, securing one's position in the asphalt lot until 12 AM. The online rate of $26.55 could be unlocked at the time of ticket purchase for access to The Tunnel, for which adult admissions were individually priced at $28 or bundled in a two-pack for $55.50.
The district's Winter Lights exhibit extended to just before the entrance building, where a blue LED tunnel resided. We resolved to check out the nearby installations afterwards, for natural illumination was waning.
Once inside the Power Station building, I came to learn of its impressive height and curated "museum-style" components: info board-accompanied equipment to illustrate the various equipment utilized in the power station over the course of history. There was even a gift shop, seating area, and live performance stage, complete with backdrop and speakers.
Of course, of greatest importance to me were the lavatories. Pristine, modern-looking individual stalls filled the corridor. Behind wood frame doors lay dyson hand dryers, automatic faucets, and beaming white toilets and sinks. It was, very likely, the comfiest restroom setting laid eyes upon in the tourist-laden area. An emerald velvet couch was positioned in the waiting area, which joined exhibit floor with a series of mirrors with an additional info pillar.
Elevators to The Tunnel were clearly identified. One of two were available for use, with a "Wait for Elevator Operator" sign posted before it. The other elevator was closed off at the 3 PM mark, but interestingly reopened before their ceasing of operations at 5 PM.
Eventually, a middle-aged man appeared with the previous group of tunnel-goers. He gestured the party in wait into the elevator. Then, we would descend 180 feet (metric: 54.9 m) to the entrance of the brick tunnel.
Given the chilly air and light gust experienced throughout, it can be concluded that the tunnel wasn't fully enclosed. It was a curved passageway, lined with brick and featuring a walkable, broom-finished concrete surface, inclusive of newly-poured curbs. Dampness seeping from the top of tunnel was present at the start of the tunnel, though the rest of the section remained largely dry.
From time to time, info boards would be spotted along the route, shedding details on the construction process, hourly rates of applied trades at the onset of construction, and more. QR codes were affixed on every panel, allowing interested visitors to dive deeper into the rich background of Niagara Parks.
We passed only one barrier along the way: accessible glass double doors and an adjoined glass panel that extended from the top of the walkable concrete surface to the inner edge of the tunnel diameter.
Nearing the lookout point, complimentary yellow ponchos could be obtained for mist protection. They were available in two sizes: adult and children, with adjustable neck ties for keeping moisture at bay. A poncho recycling bin was situated adjacent to promote proper disposal of the ponchos afterwards.
Half the tunnel entry had been closed off, causing visitors to cluster on one side. The deck provided a stellar view of both Horseshoe Falls and the States-owned American Falls - an obvious name choice right? - and a strikingly sharp look into seagull interactions at the base of the Falls(s) and on the rocks.
Breathtaking was the scenery, and polite were the other users of the space. Each party patiently awaited their turn for photos, unlike the unruly attendees of Capilano.
A wash of wonder glazed over as I gazed at the luxurious turquoise waters. Eventually, after much sneering from the sleepy polar bear, I shed the yellow gown, for atmospheric conditions were far drier than expected.
A 360-degree of my surroundings was reinstated. Glorious was the scene: beautiful without shrouding us in mistiness. I was awestruck at the breadth of the Falls, namely Horseshoe Falls, which we could view roughly half of from the lookout deck. Despite having ventured from above on several occasions, The Tunnel offered closer proximity to appreciate its grandness.
View the full album HERE !
By this point, we had likely spent one hour leisurely traversing the path. As we swiftly strode back to the musty-smelling elevators, I presumed the sun to have commenced its gradual descent in the process.
When we emerged at ground level once more, the view beyond the lofty glass windows had altered: the cool-toned clouds had become cooler, now an irreversible cerulean casting its shadow on ceaseless currents.
The museum exhibits spanned a number of historic tools and equipment, ranging from a fire extinguisher twice (or thrice?) the size of the modern-day rendition, cooper wires encased in conduits, and an interactive control station demo adopting the format of a narrated escape room module.
Of particular interest to me a hydro pole tag labeller, into which a malleable strip of metal was threaded through, then ingrained with utility details.
We ventured through the entire length of the museum before routing back towards the gift shop. Beyond merely offering souvenirs, the gift shop was connected to a seating area. Speakers and a mixed-media backdrop could be found at the far end, enabling the setting to serve as a venue for live performances.
There was a distinct lack of worthy souvenirs, in spite of the vast quantity of products. Dismissing the Nikola Tesla- and generically Canadian-themed merchandise, I took to a rose gold Niagara Parks Power Station keychain (though would have much preferred a magnet version) and three portable tokens of Indigenous artwork.
Successfully having completed our tour before the Power Station's 5 PM closing time, we then navigated back to the car. Dusk had fallen by this time, and the Winter Festival of Lights along Niagara Parkway dazzled with colourful LEDs.
Read Part 3 HERE !
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