1,200 miles north of New York City lies one of the world’s largest underground hydroelectric power stations, Churchill Falls.
Carved out of granite and buried over 900 feet beneath the surface, the plant produces, by itself, almost 1% of the world’s total hydroelectric power. Tours run three times a day, seven days a week. Very convenient, if you happen to be in the neighborhood of Churchill Falls, which is a company town along the Trans-Labrador Highway. The station is hundreds of miles from any major city, but the tour is astounding beginning with the elevator ride, which doesn’t count floors on its digital readout, but instead the number of feet below the surface you are.
The tour shows off the massive 200-ton transformers that were trucked in to the plant in the late 1960s using a custom-built tractor-trailer, but the pièce de résistance is the machine hall that rests above the powerful turbines. The hall’s control banks are a location scout’s dream, though where, exactly, the full crew of a spy thriller would stay is unclear, since the town of Churchill Falls has exactly one, 26-room hotel. But there is plenty of space underground. One of the plant’s “escape routes” is a curved tunnel large enough to fit a bus, one of which is always gassed up and ready to head up to the surface with employees in case of emergency. Just in case you were nervous about descending 900 feet underground to a power station above the 52nd parallel.
Know Before You Go
243 kilometers east of Labrador City, or 288 kilometers west of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, both on Route 500, the Trans-Labrador Highway.