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Niagara Power Project Construction Veterans Return

Cathy Blood

August 9, 2007

For Immediate Release       

LEWISTON—Fifty years ago, on Aug. 21, 1957, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Niagara Redevelopment Act, paving the way for construction of the New York Power Authority’s Niagara Power Project.  This Saturday, August 11, just about 50 years ago to the signing date, about 25 former construction workers and contractors will return to the project as NYPA’s guests for a tour of the project they helped to build.

The reunion of the “Hard Hats of Niagara” and their families will convene at the project’s Power Vista visitors center and include welcoming remarks from Power Authority officials, presentations, a luncheon and a tour of the project

"While the proud legacy of these dedicated workers lives on today all around the Niagara Power Project, I believe they will be interested in also seeing what's new," said Roger Kelley, president and chief executive officer, NYPA. “We’ve just completed a 15-year upgrade, replacing or retrofitting almost all major components of the 13 generating units at the project’s main power plant.”

“It was an army of workers. These are the same men who went on to construct the Interstate Highway system, hospitals, and industrial expansion across America. They represent the finest of the American fabric,” said Ken Glennon, technical support representative for AM General in South Bend, Ind. “Ultimately about 11,700 worked at Niagara, and when Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller flipped a switch for first power production, with NYPA Chairman Robert Moses at his side, we had actually beaten the February 1961 deadline by several days.”

The first-power ceremonies drew national attention, as the recorded remarks of President John F. Kennedy and living former presidents Eisenhower, Truman and Hoover resounded through the nearby Niagara University Student Center, where nearly 4,500 guests had gathered.

The project, said Kennedy, was “an outstanding engineering achievement” and an “example to the world of North American efficiency and determination.”

Glennon, who worked for contractor Merritt Chapman and Scott during construction, organized the reunion and is preparing a book on firsthand accounts of working on what at the time was the largest hydropower complex in the Western World. He may be reached at , or

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  About NYPA:

 ■    NYPA uses no tax money or state credit.  It finances its operations through the sale of bonds and revenues earned in large part through sales of electricity.  ■    NYPA is a leader in promoting energy-efficiency, new energy technologies and electric transportation initiatives.  ■    It is the nation’s largest state-owned electric utility, with 18 generating facilities in various parts of the state and more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines.

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