Here in this picture you can see the world's largest underground power plant. In the picture you see the massive turbines. It is these turbines that get turned by the extreme force of the water and they then in turn generate the electrical power.
You can almost feel the hum walking through here, it is a quieter area of the tour and just a couple people required down here to staff the area doing checks and things.
But this is ultimately where the product is made!
The surge chamber is one of coolest places to see underground. You can only get to see this location if the project is generating below a certain level of output. So hopefully on your visit you will be able to enter.
This is where you see all of the water underground on its way back out after its done its work.
My camera didn't take very good pictures in the dark so I just showed a picture of the entrance here. But basically its the Churchill River underground and its powerful. Very windy and chilly in this area!
To get underground your guide will then take you to the CNA building referred to by locals or the Generating Station. Above ground at this location you will get some interpretation and get to see the control room. No pictures where aloud there but its just like the place Homer Simpson works on the show the Simpsons :-) Seriously, hehehe
Then you get in the elevator and head underground. About 200 ft or more! Your ears will pop a little but nothing serious.
Down here you will see a maze of tunnels the area that really does make the site an impressive engineering project.
Here in this picture you can see the guide explaining how the generators work and the massive equipment that was used to truck these units to their location!
It's a bit noisy in places underground and you will be given ear plugs for that.
Welcome to Churchill Falls. I know a fair bit about this destination since my wife is from here and I chased her back here on a number of occassions and now get to visit fairly often.
I have put all my Churchill Falls tips under Wabush because Churchill Falls is not in the VT database and the community is 239 km from Wabush so off the beaten path by a number of accounts. Labrador itself it relatively off the beaten path. To get to Churchill Falls from Wabush you have to drive on a good quality gravel highway. You will probaby see plenty of wildlife enroute and enjoy the open spaces you will be exploring a wilderness type area.
That being said this could easily be a "Must See Activity". I revisited the tour in 2004 and a tourist from British Columbia claimed, "If I see nothing else this made my trip worth while!"
Churchill Falls is famous because it was the largest hydroelectric project the world had ever seen and today remains the world's largest underground power plant!
It is equally famous for its financing and the lack of money the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador makes from the project while Quebec is getting notoriously rich from it!
Images of then Premier Joey Smallwood ranting, "This is our river!" still angers many in the Labrador region who feel very strongly it is their river and it should never have been altered.
So while you embark on my virtual tour please remember that the Churchill Falls Labrador Corporation does have organized tours for when you visit. Just call 1-709-925-3335. I can attest that they are very well done and in depth.
Ok let me continue with my unofficial tour of Churchill Falls and what is happening there. There are miles and miles of dams and dykes divert all the water to this point that you see in the picture.
The area of flooding and dams covers thousands and thousands of square miles to bring it to the point you see.
From the the power of the water is diverted underground through a series of shoots where the force of the water is used to turn the massive underground generators.
So let me take you underground :-)
This picture was taken from the lookout that I recommended in my Churchill Falls - Part 4 tip. As you can see with all the water diverted the falls pushing much less water into this part of the river.
I found the gorges to be very scenic none the less. You can see that the mighty river created some very dramatic and scenic cliffs in the area.
Ok in Part 3 I didn't recommend very good activities, hehehe. Here is one I can recommend. Just prior to the Brinco Bridge when approaching it from Wabush you will see a small clearing beside the road and a path into the woods.
There can be some flies on this walk but if you follow the path you will eventually find this lookout of the falls. I remember it to be about 15 minutes or so to walk in there maybe more. But when you get to the lookout you get the best views of the Churchill Falls.
I hope you enjoy :-)
As you can see in this picture that I personally took the falls doesn't have the force it once did when it was aloud to flow free.
That being said I still find it to be a beautiful falls and very scenic area. I don't recommend you try this but when you are almost to Churchill Falls you come to the Brinco Bridge that crosses the river.
From there once year we hiked down the edge of the river and there are several massive pools that you can do some cliff like diving. Be warned the water is very cold in those pools though and I have no idea which ones they were now so don't do it!! Diving into unknown waters is obviously not safe.
Another time we hiked down over the rock face that you see in this picture and took pictures looking back up at the falls. This too is not safe and I don't recommend. The rock face is very slippery in places and we were silly to do it without any aids. You can see toward the middle of the picture that eventually the rocks take a very steep drp and you don't want to end up down there!!
Prior to the development of the Churchill River you can see from this picture it was a magnificent falls. Very very powerful and massive.
It was referred to as the Grand Falls and still by many this day. It was the Premier at the time Joey Smallwood who decided it best named after Sir Winston Churchill and thus the name of the company run town then followed.
The river was used by trappers and the aboriginal people of Labrador for transportation and trapping in the region. It was also referred to as "The Height of Land" back in those days.
Occassionaly now people do get to see the falls power again as the company release the gates at the dam and let it flow free.
The environmentalist out there understand that a hydroelectric project required massive amounts of flooding and dams to divert the water to a power generating station.
After we had flown south again, but only half-way, to the Wabush/Labrador City area, we toured another of the IOC complexes. Again, there were more open-pit mines and large rock haul trucks to transport the raw ore to refining facilities. This time, I got to have a seat in the cab of one of the 120-ton Wabco haul trucks to see what it would be like controlling such a huge beast!