Here are a number of things you may not have known about Niagara Falls.
Niagara Falls is actually three separate waterfalls straddling between Niagara Falls, Canada and Niagara Falls, New York. As you look at them from Canada left to right, they are the American Falls, the Bridal Veil Falls, and the larger Canadian Horseshoe Falls. These waterfalls originate about the centre of the Niagara River which flows 58 kilometres (36 miles) from Lake Erie downriver to Lake Ontario.
The Niagara River is not a river, it is a strait flowing between two lakes. Maps of the 18th century show the “river” as the Niagara Strait. All rivers in North America flow north to south. This “river” flows south to north.
The Canadian Horseshoe Falls are the highest and widest of the three Falls, measuring 670 metres (2,200 feet) across with an average drop of 57 metres (188 feet). The American Falls is 287 metres (940 feet) wide and drops 27 metres (90 feet) to 37 metres (120 feet). The Bridal Veil Falls is about 14 metres (45 feet) wide and drops the same as the American Falls
Approximately 3,160 tons of water flow over the Falls every second. That’s about 600 tons over the American and Bridal Veil Falls and 2,500 tons over the Canadian Horseshoe Falls.
Niagara Falls is the largest waterfall in North America in terms of volume and width. However, there are nearly 500 waterfalls in the world higher than Niagara Falls.
Niagara Falls wears its way back about one foot every ten years. It will eventually flow into Lake Erie - but no need to worry, that’s estimated to happen 10,000 years from now.
Today, Niagara Falls is 11 kilometres (seven miles) from where it was first formed years ago. This is because natural forces pushed the falls upstream collapsing the softer layers of rock directly below the upper layer of hard dolomite.
The word Niagara is thought to come from the Iroquoian word,” Onguiaaha” which means, “a Thundering noise.”
The rushing water of the the Falls creates the largest source of Negative Ions in the world. These ions make you feel happy and content. Medical doctor Red Soyka in his book, The Ion Effect (1977) said, “Niagara Falls is the most stupendous negation generator in the world and these neg-ions create a sense of well-being." It may be the reason we are still a paradise for honeymooners who visit the Falls!
90% of the fish that go over Niagara Falls survive. It is most likely that the white foam and air at the base of the Falls act as a cushion.
The official name of the bridge that crosses over the Niagara River at Queenston, Ontario and Lewiston, New York is the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge. That’s because in the alphabet L is before Q. But most Canadian still call it the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge and Americans refer to it correctly as the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge.
Starting in 1859 there have been many funambulists (tightrope walkers) who crossed over the river but not within sight of the Falls. They did their walks near where the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge now stands. However, in 2012 a tightrope walker named Nik Wallenda received permission to string a wire from the United States and Canada in front of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. His successful spectacular walk was seen by millions over television and thousands, including me, who gathered at Table Rock at the edge of the falls.
A priest, Father Louis Hennepin, is believed to be the first European to write and draw Niagara Falls when he visited here in 1678. Hennepin in his book, New Discovery (the French edition, 1697) wrote an exaggerated description of the Falls making them three times as large as they actually were.
Three kilometres north of the Falls is the Niagara Whirlpool. Normally water enters this whirlpool in a counter-clockwise motion and the hydrostatic pressure forces the water to dive under the incoming water creating a whirlpool. However, when the water levels are low there is no circular motion, therefore no whirlpool. The water levels are low because water is being diverted upriver through tunnels and a canal to the power generating plants at Queenston.
As it is today, Table Rock is perhaps the best place to view the majestic Falls. In the past there was a large piece of rock projecting out over the gorge that looked like a table top. Large sections were continually breaking away and finally in 1850 the last major piece fell away while a hackman was washing his vehicle. Today, only a small projection remains of the mighty rock.
On November 9, 1965 a switch at the Sir Adam Beck Power Plant malfunctioned causing a great power blackout that crippled 30 million people in southern Ontario and New York State including New York City. Later the birth rate was reported to have increased dramatical nine months after the accident. The power was restored about 13 hours later and people went back to their day to day activities.
Hopefully some of these facts are interesting and helpful. Now, go impress some of your friends with Niagara Falls trivia.