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Pan-American Exposition of 1901

"Searchlight Illumination at Niagara"

By Orrin E. Dunlap.


[The following article originally appeared in Western Electrician, v. 28, no. 7, (Apr. 27, 1901) p. 285. The text and images are reproduced her in full.]

Fig.1 - Searchlight Illumination at Niagara - Type of Projector Employed on Electric Tower.

There is little doubt that the searchlight illumination of the Falls of Niagara, which is to be seen in all its glory this summer, will add materially to the attractive features of the Niagara frontier. The famous cataract is glorious by day, and when under the illumination of powerful searchlights, it is a truly remarkable sight. The illumination that will first be seen will be done by the Michigan CentralRailroad Company, and it is barely possible that the commissioners of the free parks will also recognize the advantage of making the spectacle as attractive by day as by night. It mars no natural beauty to direct powerful lights upon the plunging waters in order that admiring humanity may be entertained.

As a feature of the Pan-American Exposition powerful searchlights will be placed on the electric tower in the grounds at Buffalo and also on the observation tower at Niagara Falls. They will exchange beams of light, as it were, and it is expected that the spectacle will attract great attention. It is believed that the Niagara light will be visible as far as Toronto.

Referring to the illustrations, Fig. 1 shows the type of searchlight to be placed on the towers mentioned, while Fig. 2 shows the crest of the Horseshoe Falls illuminated by the beam from a projector.

Fig. 2 - Searchlight Illumination at Niagara. - Crest of the Horseshoe Falls.


"Pan-American Exposition Searchlight Signals to Toronto"

[Source: Western Electrician, v. 29, no. 8, (Aug. 24, 1901) p. 114. (No author cited.) text is reproduced here in full.]

Signals from the 30-inch searchlight on the Electric Tower of the Pan-American Exposition were sent to Niagara Falls, July 25th, by Professor George F. Sever, superintendent of electrical exhibits, in the presence of the electrical jury, thus demonstrating the feasibility of this method of signaling at night.

Since that time searchlight signals have been sent from Buffalo to Toronto, a distance of 58 miles, through arrangements completed by Professor Sever, in co-operation with Mr. William S. Aldrich, consulting electrical engineer of Toronto. The first trial was made about 9 p. m. on August 9th, with clouds over Toronto. The local illumination of the overhead sky by the electric arc lights in the streets of Toronto effectually prevented any discrimination being made between the local and the Buffalo illumination of the clouds. The second trial was made between 9:50 and 10:15 p. m., August 13th, with a perfectly clear atmosphere. Owing to the smoke settling down over the city of Toronto, no signals could be discerned from the top of the Municipal Hall tower in that city. This was the pre-arranged objective point for both experiments.

Special long-distance communication was arranged between the top of the Municipal Hall tower and the Electric Tower at the Pan-American, through the courtesy of the Bell Telephone company, represented by Mr. Dunstan of Toronto, so that every detail of the experiment could be followed. The special instructions were to depress the searchlight to the lake horizon, bearing on the Municipal Hall tower, Toronto; then, to sweep the horizon a definite angle, to the right and left of this bearing, and later to elevate and depress the light on the original bearing. All of these signals were very clearly discerned during the second trial by Mr. C. H. Rust, city engineer, Toronto, with party located on Center Island, two miles off shore from the city.