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”.
A lot is different today. No longer can the Canadian Horseshoe Falls be heard on a calm day. However, there are two exceptions. Take the Journey behind the Falls attraction to the base of the falls and then walk the tunnel to behind the falls. Here’s where you will be spell bound by the crashing powerful noise of Niagara.
The other exception is when a strong south-west wind blows up waves from shallow Lake Erie and pushes these waves down the Niagara River and they come crashing over the falls. The sound can be deafening and it’s a sure-fire sign bad weather is on the way.
The main reason for he falls not being heard from long distances is that since the early 50’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.