NIAGARA FALLS, NY—Since 1846, Maid of the Mist Corp. boats have transported millions of sightseers here every year. Two all-electric vessels are now taking visitors on close-up views of the world-famous water wonder. The blue and green boats recently replaced two diesel-powered vessels built in 1990.
With no engine noise or exhaust fumes, tourists can hear the sounds of nature and the roar of the falls. One of the vessels is named after Nikola Tesla, the electrical engineer who designed and built the world’s first hydro-electric power plant at Niagara Falls in 1895. The historic project enabled nearby Buffalo to become the first city in the United States to have widespread street lighting.
The new-generation Maid of the Mist vessels are welded aluminum catamarans equipped with batteries that can produce 400-kilowatts. They power two 563-hp electric motors.
The marine propulsion system, including lithium-ion power packs and an on-shore charging system, was made by ABB. Each 30-minute round trip consumes about 38 kilowatt hours. While the boats are docked to load and unload passengers, the batteries are recharged for 7 minutes.
The 91-foot-long boats were built by Burger Boat Co. in Manitowoc, WI, using 40 aluminum modules that were shipped by truck to Niagara Falls and assembled.