Nikola Tesla

Heritage Moments: Tesla at Niagara — the weird genius who powered the world

Apr 11, 2016
Library of Congress; photograph by Napoleon Sarony

He was always an odd boy given to strange obsessions, but the fevered vision that came to Nikola Tesla at 15 stuck with him for years. Bedridden with malaria, the young Serb opened a book to an engraving of Niagara Falls and, in his delirium, had a shimmering apparition: the rushing waters were turning a gigantic wheel, powering great factories and entire cities.