Writers who visited Niagara Falls in the 17th,18th and 19th century often wrote that they heard Niagara Falls before they saw them. Here’s just a few of the accounts.
- Father Louis Hennepin, who is said to be the first white person to write and draw a sketch (it was greatly exaggerated) of Niagara Falls said in 1678, “it throws off vapour (mist) that can be seen at a distance of 16 leagues (48 kilometres) and may be heard at the same distance when it is calm”.
- Finnish explorer, Peter Kalm in 1751 wrote, “All the gentlemen who were with me agreed that, that the farthest one can hear it is 15 leagues (45 kilometres). Sometimes tis said, the falls makes greater noise and Indians look on it as a sure sign of approaching bad weather”.
- English writer Paul Dudley in the mid 19th century said,” the cataract makes such a prodigious noise, that people cannot hear each other speak at some miles distance”.
In 1935 the roar of Niagara Falls was heard worldwide when a microphone was placed at the furthermost portal tunnel in the attraction named Table Rock Scenic Tunnels (known as the Journey Behind the Falls today). The event was a Christmas broadcast by Canada’s CBC.
Today, you can walk along the parkway towards the brink of the Falls to experience the sights and sounds of our natural wonder. For an up-close experience, ride aboard the Niagara City Cruises or head to the base of the Falls through 130-year old tunnels with the Journey Behind the Falls attraction. You will be spell bound by the powerful noise of Niagara Falls.
While not as loud as they once were, the main reason the Falls are not heard from long distances is that since the early 1950’s half the water that could go over Niagara Falls is being diverted to power generating power plants at Queenston, Ontario and Lewiston, N.Y. In winter months, another 25% of Niagara River water is diverted to create electricity.