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Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

Overview
The Niagara Falls, located on the Niagara River
Niagara River
The Niagara River flows north from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. It forms part of the border between the Province of Ontario in Canada and New York State in the United States. There are differing theories as to the origin of the name of the river...

 draining Lake Erie
Lake Erie
Lake Erie is the fourth largest lake of the five Great Lakes in North America, and the tenth largest globally. It is the southernmost, shallowest, and smallest by volume of the Great Lakes and therefore also has the shortest average water residence time. It is bounded on the north by the...

 into Lake Ontario
Lake Ontario
Lake Ontario is one of the five Great Lakes of North America. It is bounded on the north and southwest by the Canadian province of Ontario, and on the south by the American state of New York. Ontario, Canada's most populous province, was named for the lake. In the Wyandot language, ontarío means...

, is the collective name for the Horseshoe Falls
Horseshoe Falls
The Horseshoe Falls, also known as the Canadian Falls, is part of Niagara Falls, on the Niagara River. Approximately 90% of the Niagara River, after diversions for hydropower generation, flows over Horseshoe Falls. The remaining 10% flows over the American Falls...

 and the adjacent American Falls
American Falls
The American Falls is one of three waterfalls that together are known as Niagara Falls on the Niagara River along the Canada-U.S. border. Unlike the much larger Horseshoe Falls, of which two-thirds of the falls is located in Ontario, Canada and one-third in New York State, United States, the...

 along with the comparatively small Bridal Veil Falls
Bridal Veil Falls (Niagara Falls)
The Bridal Veil Falls is the smallest of the three waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls. It is located on the U.S. side ; Luna Island separates it from the American Falls and Goat Island separates it from the Horseshoe Falls. The Bridal Veil Falls faces to the northwest and has a crest 56 feet ...

, which combined form the highest flow rate of any waterfalls in the world and has a vertical drop of more than 165 feet (50 m).
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Encyclopedia
The Niagara Falls, located on the Niagara River
Niagara River
The Niagara River flows north from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. It forms part of the border between the Province of Ontario in Canada and New York State in the United States. There are differing theories as to the origin of the name of the river...

 draining Lake Erie
Lake Erie
Lake Erie is the fourth largest lake of the five Great Lakes in North America, and the tenth largest globally. It is the southernmost, shallowest, and smallest by volume of the Great Lakes and therefore also has the shortest average water residence time. It is bounded on the north by the...

 into Lake Ontario
Lake Ontario
Lake Ontario is one of the five Great Lakes of North America. It is bounded on the north and southwest by the Canadian province of Ontario, and on the south by the American state of New York. Ontario, Canada's most populous province, was named for the lake. In the Wyandot language, ontarío means...

, is the collective name for the Horseshoe Falls
Horseshoe Falls
The Horseshoe Falls, also known as the Canadian Falls, is part of Niagara Falls, on the Niagara River. Approximately 90% of the Niagara River, after diversions for hydropower generation, flows over Horseshoe Falls. The remaining 10% flows over the American Falls...

 and the adjacent American Falls
American Falls
The American Falls is one of three waterfalls that together are known as Niagara Falls on the Niagara River along the Canada-U.S. border. Unlike the much larger Horseshoe Falls, of which two-thirds of the falls is located in Ontario, Canada and one-third in New York State, United States, the...

 along with the comparatively small Bridal Veil Falls
Bridal Veil Falls (Niagara Falls)
The Bridal Veil Falls is the smallest of the three waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls. It is located on the U.S. side ; Luna Island separates it from the American Falls and Goat Island separates it from the Horseshoe Falls. The Bridal Veil Falls faces to the northwest and has a crest 56 feet ...

, which combined form the highest flow rate of any waterfalls in the world and has a vertical drop of more than 165 feet (50 m). Horseshoe Falls is the most powerful waterfalls (vertical height along with flow rate) in North America. Niagara Falls forms the international border between the Canadian province
Provinces and territories of Canada
The provinces and territories of Canada combine to make up the world's second-largest country by area. There are ten provinces and three territories...

 of Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

 and the U.S. state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 of New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, also forming the southern end of the Niagara Gorge
Niagara Gorge
Niagara Gorge is a gorge carved by the Niagara River along the US-Canadian border in New York and Ontario. As Niagara Falls recedes upstream toward Lake Erie, the river has gouged the hard dolomitic limestone of the Niagara escarpment to form the gorge...

. The falls are located 17 miles (27.4 km) north-northwest of Buffalo, New York
Buffalo, New York
Buffalo is the second most populous city in the state of New York, after New York City. Located in Western New York on the eastern shores of Lake Erie and at the head of the Niagara River across from Fort Erie, Ontario, Buffalo is the seat of Erie County and the principal city of the...

 and 75 miles (120.7 km) south-southeast of Toronto
Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

, between the twin cities of Niagara Falls, Ontario
Niagara Falls, Ontario
Niagara Falls is a Canadian city on the Niagara River in the Golden Horseshoe region of Southern Ontario. The municipality was incorporated on June 12, 1903...

, and Niagara Falls, New York
Niagara Falls, New York
Niagara Falls is a city in Niagara County, New York, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 50,193, down from the 55,593 recorded in the 2000 census. It is across the Niagara River from Niagara Falls, Ontario , both named after the famed Niagara Falls which they...

.

Introduction


Niagara Falls are composed of two major sections, separated by Goat Island
Goat Island (New York)
Goat Island is a small island in the Niagara River, located in the middle of Niagara Falls between the Bridal Veil Falls and the Horseshoe Falls...

: the Horseshoe Falls
Horseshoe Falls
The Horseshoe Falls, also known as the Canadian Falls, is part of Niagara Falls, on the Niagara River. Approximately 90% of the Niagara River, after diversions for hydropower generation, flows over Horseshoe Falls. The remaining 10% flows over the American Falls...

 on the Canadian side and the American Falls
American Falls
The American Falls is one of three waterfalls that together are known as Niagara Falls on the Niagara River along the Canada-U.S. border. Unlike the much larger Horseshoe Falls, of which two-thirds of the falls is located in Ontario, Canada and one-third in New York State, United States, the...

 on the American side. The smaller Bridal Veil Falls
Bridal Veil Falls (Niagara Falls)
The Bridal Veil Falls is the smallest of the three waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls. It is located on the U.S. side ; Luna Island separates it from the American Falls and Goat Island separates it from the Horseshoe Falls. The Bridal Veil Falls faces to the northwest and has a crest 56 feet ...

 are also located on the American side, separated from the main falls by Luna Island
Luna Island
Luna Island is a very small uninhabited island in Niagara Falls, New York.-Location and features:It is between the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls, which are two of the three waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls...

. The international boundary line was originally drawn through Horseshoe Falls in 1819, but the boundary has long been in dispute due to natural erosion and construction.

Niagara Falls were formed when glaciers receded at the end of the Wisconsin glaciation
Wisconsin glaciation
The last glacial period was the most recent glacial period within the current ice age occurring during the last years of the Pleistocene, from approximately 110,000 to 10,000 years ago....

 (the last ice age), and water from the newly formed Great Lakes
Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater lakes located in northeastern North America, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total surface, coming in second by volume...

 carved a path through the Niagara Escarpment
Niagara Escarpment
The Niagara Escarpment is a long escarpment, or cuesta, in the United States and Canada that runs westward from New York State, through Ontario, Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois...

 en route to the Atlantic Ocean. While not exceptionally high, the Niagara Falls are very wide. More than 6 million cubic feet (168,000 m3) of water falls over the crest line every minute in high flow, and almost 4 million cubic feet (110,000 m3) on average.

The Niagara Falls are renowned both for their beauty and as a valuable source of hydroelectric power. Managing the balance between recreational, commercial, and industrial uses has been a challenge for the stewards of the falls since the 19th century.

Characteristics


The Horseshoe Falls drop about 173 feet (52.7 m), while the height of the American Falls varies between 70–100 ft (21.3–30.5 ) because of the presence of giant boulders at its base. The larger Horseshoe Falls are about 2600 feet (792.5 m) wide, while the American Falls are 1060 feet (323.1 m) wide. The distance between the American extremity of the Niagara Falls and the Canadian extremity is 1039 metres (3,408.8 ft).

The volume of water approaching the falls during peak flow season may sometimes be as much as 202,000 cubic feet (5,700 m3, 5.7 million liters) per second. Since the flow is a direct function of the Lake Erie
Lake Erie
Lake Erie is the fourth largest lake of the five Great Lakes in North America, and the tenth largest globally. It is the southernmost, shallowest, and smallest by volume of the Great Lakes and therefore also has the shortest average water residence time. It is bounded on the north by the...

 water elevation, it typically peaks in late spring or early summer. During the summer months, 100000 ft3 per second of water actually traverses the falls, some 90% of which goes over the Horseshoe Falls, while the balance is diverted to hydroelectric facilities. This is accomplished by employing a weir
Weir
A weir is a small overflow dam used to alter the flow characteristics of a river or stream. In most cases weirs take the form of a barrier across the river that causes water to pool behind the structure , but allows water to flow over the top...

 with movable gates upstream from the Horseshoe Falls. The falls flow is further halved at night, and during the low tourist season in the winter, remains a flat 50000 ft3 per second. Water diversion is regulated by the 1950 Niagara Treaty and is administered by the International Niagara Board of Control (IJC).

The verdant green colour of the water flowing over the Niagara Falls is a byproduct of the estimated 60 tonnes/minute of dissolved salts and "rock flour" (very finely ground rock) generated by the erosive force of the Niagara River itself. The current rate of erosion is approximately 1 foot (0.3048 m) per year down from a historical average of 3 foot (0.9144 m) per year. However, it is estimated that 50,000 years from now, even at this reduced rate of erosion, the remaining 20 miles to Lake Erie will have been undermined and the falls will cease to exist.

Geology


The features that became Niagara Falls were created by the Wisconsin glaciation
Wisconsin glaciation
The last glacial period was the most recent glacial period within the current ice age occurring during the last years of the Pleistocene, from approximately 110,000 to 10,000 years ago....

 about 10,000 years ago. The same forces also created the North American Great Lakes and the Niagara River. All were dug by a continental ice sheet
Ice age
An ice age or, more precisely, glacial age, is a generic geological period of long-term reduction in the temperature of the Earth's surface and atmosphere, resulting in the presence or expansion of continental ice sheets, polar ice sheets and alpine glaciers...

 that drove through the area, deepening some river channels to form lakes, and damming others with debris. Scientists argue that there is an old valley, buried by glacial drift
Drift (geology)
In geology, drift is the name for all material of glacial origin found anywhere on land or at sea , including sediment and large rocks...

, at the approximate location of the present Welland Canal
Welland Canal
The Welland Canal is a ship canal in Canada that extends from Port Weller, Ontario, on Lake Ontario, to Port Colborne, Ontario, on Lake Erie. As a part of the St...

.

When the ice melted, the upper Great Lakes emptied into the Niagara river, which followed the rearranged topography across the Niagara Escarpment
Niagara Escarpment
The Niagara Escarpment is a long escarpment, or cuesta, in the United States and Canada that runs westward from New York State, through Ontario, Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois...

. In time, the river cut a gorge through the north facing cliff, or cuesta
Cuesta
In structural geology and geomorphology, a cuesta is a ridge formed by gently tilted sedimentary rock strata in a homoclinal structure. Cuestas have a steep slope, where the rock layers are exposed on their edges, called an escarpment or, if more steep, a cliff...

. Because of the interactions of three major rock formations, the rocky bed did not erode evenly. The top rock formation was composed of erosion-resistant limestone
Limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

 and Lockport dolostone
Dolomite
Dolomite is a carbonate mineral composed of calcium magnesium carbonate CaMg2. The term is also used to describe the sedimentary carbonate rock dolostone....

. That hard layer of stone eroded more slowly than the underlying materials. The aerial photo on the right clearly shows the hard caprock, the Lockport Formation (Middle Silurian
Silurian
The Silurian is a geologic period and system that extends from the end of the Ordovician Period, about 443.7 ± 1.5 Mya , to the beginning of the Devonian Period, about 416.0 ± 2.8 Mya . As with other geologic periods, the rock beds that define the period's start and end are well identified, but the...

), which underlies the rapids above the falls, and approximately the upper third of the high gorge wall.

Immediately below the hard-rock formation, comprising about two thirds of the cliff, lay the weaker, softer, sloping Rochester Formation (Lower Silurian). This formation was composed mainly of shale
Shale
Shale is a fine-grained, clastic sedimentary rock composed of mud that is a mix of flakes of clay minerals and tiny fragments of other minerals, especially quartz and calcite. The ratio of clay to other minerals is variable. Shale is characterized by breaks along thin laminae or parallel layering...

, though it has some thin limestone layers. It also contains ancient fossil
Fossil
Fossils are the preserved remains or traces of animals , plants, and other organisms from the remote past...

s. In time, the river eroded the soft layer that supported the hard layers, undercutting the hard caprock, which gave way in great chunks. This process repeated countless times, eventually carving out the falls.

Submerged in the river in the lower valley, hidden from view, is the Queenston Formation (Upper Ordovician
Ordovician
The Ordovician is a geologic period and system, the second of six of the Paleozoic Era, and covers the time between 488.3±1.7 to 443.7±1.5 million years ago . It follows the Cambrian Period and is followed by the Silurian Period...

), which is composed of shales and fine sandstone
Sandstone
Sandstone is a sedimentary rock composed mainly of sand-sized minerals or rock grains.Most sandstone is composed of quartz and/or feldspar because these are the most common minerals in the Earth's crust. Like sand, sandstone may be any colour, but the most common colours are tan, brown, yellow,...

s. All three formations were laid down in an ancient sea, their differences of character deriving from changing conditions within that sea.

About 10,900 years ago, the Niagara Falls was located between present-day Queenston, Ontario
Queenston, Ontario
Queenston is located 5 km north of Niagara Falls, Ontario in the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. The community is bordered by Highway 405 and the Niagara River; its location on the Niagara Escarpment led to the establishment of the now-defunct Queenston Quarry in the area...

, and Lewiston, New York
Lewiston, New York
Lewiston is a village in Niagara County, New York, United States. The population was 2,781 at the 2000 census. The village is named after Morgan Lewis, an early 19th-century governor of New York. It is part of the Buffalo–Niagara Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area.The Village of Lewiston,...

, but erosion
Erosion
Erosion is when materials are removed from the surface and changed into something else. It only works by hydraulic actions and transport of solids in the natural environment, and leads to the deposition of these materials elsewhere...

 of their crest has caused the waterfalls to retreat approximately 6.8 miles (10.9 km) southward. The Horseshoe Falls, which are approximately 2600 feet (792.5 m) wide, have also changed their shape through the process of erosion; evolving from a small arch, to a horseshoe bend, to the present day gigantic inverted V. Just upstream from the falls' current location, Goat Island
Goat Island (New York)
Goat Island is a small island in the Niagara River, located in the middle of Niagara Falls between the Bridal Veil Falls and the Horseshoe Falls...

 splits the course of the Niagara River, resulting in the separation of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls to the west from the American and Bridal Veil Falls to the east. Engineering has slowed erosion and recession.

History



There are differing theories as to the origin of the name of the falls. According to Iroquoian scholar Bruce Trigger
Bruce Trigger
Bruce Graham Trigger, was a Canadian archaeologist, anthropologist, and ethnohistorian.Born in Preston, Ontario, he received a doctorate in archaeology from Yale University in 1964. His research interests at that time included the history of archaeological research and the comparative study of...

, "Niagara" is derived from the name given to a branch of the locally residing native Neutral Confederacy
Neutral Nation
The Neutrals, also known as the Attawandaron, were an Iroquoian nation of North American native people who lived near the shores of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.-Territory:...

, who are described as being called the "Niagagarega" people on several late 17th century French maps of the area. According to George R. Stewart
George R. Stewart
George Rippey Stewart was an American toponymist, a novelist, and a professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley...

, it comes from the name of an Iroquois
Iroquois
The Iroquois , also known as the Haudenosaunee or the "People of the Longhouse", are an association of several tribes of indigenous people of North America...

 town called "Ongniaahra", meaning "point of land cut in two".
Henry Schoolcraft reported:

"Niagara Falls. This name is Mohawk. It means, according to Mrs. Kerr, the neck; the term being first applied to the portage or neck of land, between lakes Erie and Ontario. By referring to Mr. Elliott's vocabulary, (chapter xi) it will be seen that the human neck, that is, according to the concrete vocabulary, his neck, is onyara. Red Jacket pronounced the word Niagara to me, in the spring of 1820, as if written O-ne-au-ga-rah."

A number of figures have been suggested as first circulating an eyewitness description of Niagara Falls. The Frenchman Samuel de Champlain
Samuel de Champlain
Samuel de Champlain , "The Father of New France", was a French navigator, cartographer, draughtsman, soldier, explorer, geographer, ethnologist, diplomat, and chronicler. He founded New France and Quebec City on July 3, 1608....

 visited the area as early as 1604 during his exploration of Canada, and members of his party reported to him the spectacular waterfalls, which he described in his journals. The Finnish-Swedish naturalist Pehr Kalm
Pehr Kalm
Pehr Kalm was a Swedish-Finnish explorer, botanist, naturalist, and agricultural economist. He was one of most important apostles of Carl Linnaeus...

 explored the area in the early 18th century and is credited with the first scientific description of the falls. The consensus honoree for the first description is the Belgian missionary Louis Hennepin
Louis Hennepin
Father Louis Hennepin, O.F.M. baptized Antoine, was a Catholic priest and missionary of the Franciscan Recollect order and an explorer of the interior of North America....

, who observed and described the falls in 1677, earlier than Kalm, after traveling with the explorer René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle, thus bringing the falls to the attention of Europeans. Further complicating matters, there is credible evidence that the French Jesuit Reverend Paul Ragueneau
Paul Ragueneau
Paul Ragueneau is known most notable as a Catholic Jesuit missionary. He was born in Paris and died in the same city. He is sometimes confused with his elder brother François, also a Jesuit. Father François Ragueneau accompanied Father Charles Lalemant who was returning to Canada in 1628. Their...

 visited the falls some 35 years before Hennepin's visit, while working among the Huron First Nation in Canada. Jean de Brébeuf
Jean de Brébeuf
Jean de Brébeuf was a Jesuit missionary, martyred in Canada on March 16, 1649.-Early years:Brébeuf was born in Condé-sur-Vire, Normandy, France. He was the uncle of the fur trader Georges de Brébeuf. He studied near home at Caen. He became a Jesuit in 1617, joining the Order...

 also may have visited the falls, while spending time with the Neutral Nation
Neutral Nation
The Neutrals, also known as the Attawandaron, were an Iroquoian nation of North American native people who lived near the shores of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.-Territory:...

.

During the 18th century, tourism became popular, and by mid-century, it was the area's main industry. Napoleon Bonaparte's brother Jérôme
Jérôme Bonaparte
Jérôme-Napoléon Bonaparte, French Prince, King of Westphalia, 1st Prince of Montfort was the youngest brother of Napoleon, who made him king of Westphalia...

 visited with his bride in the early 19th century. In 1837 during the Caroline affair
Caroline affair
The Caroline affair was a series of events beginning in 1837 that strained relations between the United States and Britain....

 a rebel supply ship, the Caroline, was burned and sent over the falls. In March 1848, ice blockage caused the falls to stop; no water (or at best a trickle) fell for as much as 40 hours. Waterwheels stopped, mills and factories simply shut down for having no power. Later that year demand for passage over the Niagara River led to the building of a footbridge and then Charles Ellet's Niagara Suspension Bridge. This was supplanted by German-born John Augustus Roebling's Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge
Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge
The Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge was the world's first working railway suspension bridge. It spanned and stood downstream of Niagara Falls from 1855 to 1897...

 in 1855. After the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, the New York Central railroad publicized Niagara Falls as a focus of pleasure and honeymoon visits. With increased railroad traffic, in 1886, Leffert Buck replaced Roebling's wood and stone bridge with the predominantly steel bridge that still carries trains over the Niagara River today. The first steel archway bridge near the falls was completed in 1897. Known today as the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge
Whirlpool Rapids Bridge
The Whirlpool Rapids Bridge, commonly called the Whirlpool Bridge, and until 1937, known as the Lower Steel Arch Bridge, is a spandrel braced, riveted, two-hinged arch bridge. It crosses the international border between Canada and the United States, connecting the commercial downtown districts of...

, it carries vehicles, trains, and pedestrians between Canada (through Canadian Customs Border Control) and the U.S.A. just below the falls. In 1912 much of the water coming over the American Falls froze, though there was still a trickle and the falls ran at the other two sites.

In 1941 the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission completed the third current crossing in the immediate area of Niagara Falls with the Rainbow Bridge
Rainbow Bridge (Niagara Falls)
The Rainbow Bridge at Niagara Falls is an international steel arch bridge across the Niagara River gorge, and is a world-famous tourist site. It connects the cities of Niagara Falls, New York, United States , and Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada .-Construction:The Rainbow Bridge was built near the...

, carrying both pedestrian and vehicular traffic between the two countries and Canadian and U.S. customs for each country.

After the First World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, tourism boomed again as automobiles made getting to the falls much easier. The story of Niagara Falls in the 20th century is largely that of efforts to harness the energy of the falls for hydroelectric power, and to control the development on both sides that threaten the area's natural beauty.

A team from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers dammed the falls in June 1969 in order to clear rock from the base of the falls. Rockslides had caused a significant buildup of rock at the bottom of the American side of the falls, and the engineers were to clean up the rock and repair some faults to prevent eventual erosion of the American side of the waterfall. A temporary dam was constructed to divert the flow of water to the Canadian side; the dam measured 600 feet (182.9 m) across and was made of nearly 30,000 tons of rock. The engineers cleared the rock debris and tested for safety, finishing the project in November of that year. The temporary dam was blown up to restore water flow.

Before the late 20th century the northeastern end of the Horseshoe Falls was in the United States, flowing around the Terrapin Rocks, which was once connected to Goat Island by a series of bridges. In 1955 the area between the rocks and Goat Island was filled in, creating Terrapin Point
Terrapin Point
Terrapin Point is an observation area located in Niagara Falls, New York at the northwestern corner of Goat Island, next to the Canadian Horseshoe Falls...

. In the early 1980s the United States Army Corps of Engineers
United States Army Corps of Engineers
The United States Army Corps of Engineers is a federal agency and a major Army command made up of some 38,000 civilian and military personnel, making it the world's largest public engineering, design and construction management agency...

 filled in more land and built diversion dams and retaining walls to force the water away from Terrapin Point. Altogether 400 feet (121.9 m) of the Horseshoe Falls was eliminated, including 100 feet (30.5 m) on the Canadian side. According to author Ginger Strand, the Horseshoe Falls is now entirely in Canada. Other sources say "most of" Horseshoe Falls is in Canada.

Power



The enormous energy of Niagara Falls has long been recognized as a potential source of power. The first known effort to harness the waters was in 1759, when Daniel Joncaire built a small canal above the falls to power his sawmill. Augustus and Peter Porter purchased this area and all of American Falls in 1805 from the New York state government, and enlarged the original canal to provide hydraulic power for their gristmill and tannery. In 1853, the Niagara Falls Hydraulic Power and Mining Company was chartered, which eventually constructed the canals which would be used to generate electricity. In 1881, under the leadership of Jacob Schoellkopf, Niagara River
Niagara River
The Niagara River flows north from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. It forms part of the border between the Province of Ontario in Canada and New York State in the United States. There are differing theories as to the origin of the name of the river...

's first hydroelectric generating station was built. The water fell 86 feet (26.2 m) and generated direct current
Direct current
Direct current is the unidirectional flow of electric charge. Direct current is produced by such sources as batteries, thermocouples, solar cells, and commutator-type electric machines of the dynamo type. Direct current may flow in a conductor such as a wire, but can also flow through...

 electricity, which ran the machinery of local mills
Watermill
A watermill is a structure that uses a water wheel or turbine to drive a mechanical process such as flour, lumber or textile production, or metal shaping .- History :...

 and lit up some of the village streets.

The Niagara Falls Power Company, a descendant of Schoellkopf's firm, formed the Cataract Company headed by Edward Dean Adams, with the intent of expanding Niagara Falls power capacity. In 1890, a five-member International Niagara Commission headed by Sir William Thomson among other distinguished scientists deliberated on the expansion of Niagara hydroelectric capacity based on seventeen proposals, but could not select any as the best combined project for hydraulic development and distribution. When Nikola Tesla
Nikola Tesla
Nikola Tesla was a Serbian-American inventor, mechanical engineer, and electrical engineer...

, for whom a memorial was later built at Niagara Falls, New York, U.S.A., invented the three-phase
Three-phase
In electrical engineering, three-phase electric power systems have at least three conductors carrying voltage waveforms that are radians offset in time...

 system of alternating current
Alternating current
In alternating current the movement of electric charge periodically reverses direction. In direct current , the flow of electric charge is only in one direction....

 power transmission, distant transfer of electricity became possible, as Westinghouse
George Westinghouse
George Westinghouse, Jr was an American entrepreneur and engineer who invented the railway air brake and was a pioneer of the electrical industry. Westinghouse was one of Thomas Edison's main rivals in the early implementation of the American electricity system...

 and Tesla had built the AC-power Ames Hydroelectric Generating Plant
Ames Hydroelectric Generating Plant
The Ames Hydroelectric Generating Plant, located near Ophir, Colorado, was the world's first commercial system to produce and transmit alternating current electricity. It is now on the List of IEEE Milestones....

 and proved it effective. In 1893, Westinghouse Electric
Westinghouse Electric (1886)
Westinghouse Electric was an American manufacturing company. It was founded in 1886 as Westinghouse Electric Company and later renamed Westinghouse Electric Corporation by George Westinghouse. The company purchased CBS in 1995 and became CBS Corporation in 1997...

 was hired to design a system to generate alternating current on Niagara Falls, and three years after that, the world's first large AC power system was created, activated on August 26, 1895. The Adams Power Plant Transformer House
Adams Power Plant Transformer House
Adams Power Plant Transformer House in Niagara Falls, New York is a National Historic Landmarked building constructed in 1895. It is the only remaining structure that was part of the historic Edward Dean Adams Power Plant, the first large-scale, alternating current electric generating plant in the...

 remains as a landmark of the original system.

By 1896, with financing from moguls like J.P. Morgan, John Jacob Astor IV
John Jacob Astor IV
John Jacob Astor IV was an American businessman, real estate builder, investor, inventor, writer, lieutenant colonel in the Spanish-American War and a member of the prominent Astor family...

, and the Vanderbilts
Vanderbilt family
The Vanderbilt family is an American family of Dutch origin prominent during the Gilded Age. It started off with the shipping and railroad empires of Cornelius Vanderbilt, and expanded into various other areas of industry and philanthropy...

, they had constructed giant underground conduits leading to turbines generating upwards of 100000 hp, and were sending power as far as Buffalo
Buffalo, New York
Buffalo is the second most populous city in the state of New York, after New York City. Located in Western New York on the eastern shores of Lake Erie and at the head of the Niagara River across from Fort Erie, Ontario, Buffalo is the seat of Erie County and the principal city of the...

, 20 miles (32.2 km) away. Some of the original designs for the power transmission plants were created by the Swiss firm Faesch & Piccard, which also constructed the original 5,000HP waterwheels.

Private companies on the Canadian side also began to harness the energy of the falls. The Government of the province of Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

, Canada eventually brought power transmission operations under public control in 1906, distributing Niagara's energy to various parts of the Canadian province.

Other hydropower plants were also being built along the Niagara River. But in 1956, disaster struck when the region's largest hydropower station was partially destroyed in a landslide. The landslide
Landslide
A landslide or landslip is a geological phenomenon which includes a wide range of ground movement, such as rockfalls, deep failure of slopes and shallow debris flows, which can occur in offshore, coastal and onshore environments...

 drastically reduced power production and tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs
Blue-collar worker
A blue-collar worker is a member of the working class who performs manual labor. Blue-collar work may involve skilled or unskilled, manufacturing, mining, construction, mechanical, maintenance, technical installation and many other types of physical work...

 were at stake. In 1957, Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 passed the Niagara Redevelopment Act, which granted the New York Power Authority
New York Power Authority
The New York Power Authority , officially the Power Authority of the State of New York , is a New York State public benefit corporation and the largest state-owned power organization in the United States. NYPA provides some of the lowest-cost electricity in New York State, operating 17 generating...

 the right to fully develop the United States' share of the Niagara River's hydroelectric potential.

In 1961, when the Niagara Falls hydroelectric project first went on line, it was the largest hydropower facility in the Western world. Today, Niagara is still the largest electricity producer in New York State, with a generating capacity of 2.4 gigawatts (million kilowatts). Up to 375000 U.S.gal of water a second is diverted from the Niagara River through conduits under the City of Niagara Falls to the Lewiston and Robert Moses power plants. Currently between 50% and 75% of the Niagara River's flow is diverted via four huge tunnels that arise far upstream from the waterfalls. The water then passes through hydroelectric turbines that supply power to nearby areas of Canada and the United States before returning to the river well past the falls. This water spins turbines that power generators, converting mechanical energy
Mechanical energy
In physics, mechanical energy is the sum of potential energy and kinetic energy present in the components of a mechanical system. It is the energy associated with the motion and position of an object. The law of conservation of energy states that in an isolated system that is only subject to...

 into electrical energy
Electricity
Electricity is a general term encompassing a variety of phenomena resulting from the presence and flow of electric charge. These include many easily recognizable phenomena, such as lightning, static electricity, and the flow of electrical current in an electrical wire...

. When electricity demand is low, the Lewiston units can operate as pumps to transport water from the lower bay back up to the plant's reservoir
Reservoir
A reservoir , artificial lake or dam is used to store water.Reservoirs may be created in river valleys by the construction of a dam or may be built by excavation in the ground or by conventional construction techniques such as brickwork or cast concrete.The term reservoir may also be used to...

, allowing this water to be used again during the daytime when electricity use peaks. During peak electrical demand, the same Lewiston pumps are reversed and actually become generators, similar to those at the Moses plant.

During tourist season, water usage by the power plant is limited by a treaty signed by the U.S. and Canada in 1950 to preserve this natural attraction. On average the Niagara river
Niagara River
The Niagara River flows north from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. It forms part of the border between the Province of Ontario in Canada and New York State in the United States. There are differing theories as to the origin of the name of the river...

 delivers 1500000 U.S.gal of water per second, half of which must flow over the falls during daylight hours from April through October. During other times the power plant may use up to three fourths of the total available water. During winter the Power Authority of New York works with Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

 Power Generation, to prevent ice on the Niagara River from interfering with power production or causing flooding of shoreline property. One of their joint efforts is an 8800 feet (2,682.2 m)–long ice boom, which prevents the buildup of ice, yet allows water to continue flowing downstream.

The most powerful hydroelectric stations on the Niagara River are the Sir Adam Beck 1 and 2
Sir Adam Beck Hydroelectric Power Stations
Sir Adam Beck Hydroelectric Power Stations are two hydroelectric power stations in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. The stations divert water from the Niagara and Welland Rivers above the falls which is then released into the lower portion of the river, and together produce up to 1,926 MW.Adam Beck...

 on the Canadian side and the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant and the Lewiston Pump Generating Plant on the American side. Together, Niagara's generating stations can produce about 4.4 gigawatts of power.

In August 2005 Ontario Power Generation
Ontario Power Generation
Ontario Power Generation is a public company wholly owned by the Government of Ontario. OPG is responsible for approximately 70% of the electricity generation in the Province of Ontario, Canada. Sources of electricity include nuclear, hydroelectric, solar, wind, and fossil fuel...

, which is responsible for the Sir Adam Beck stations, announced plans to build a new 6.5 miles (10.5 km) tunnel to tap water from farther up the Niagara river than is possible with the existing arrangement. The project is expected to be completed in 2009, and will increase Sir Adam Beck's output by about 182 megawatts (4.2%).

Transport



Ship
Ship
Since the end of the age of sail a ship has been any large buoyant marine vessel. Ships are generally distinguished from boats based on size and cargo or passenger capacity. Ships are used on lakes, seas, and rivers for a variety of activities, such as the transport of people or goods, fishing,...

s can bypass Niagara Falls by means of the Welland Canal
Welland Canal
The Welland Canal is a ship canal in Canada that extends from Port Weller, Ontario, on Lake Ontario, to Port Colborne, Ontario, on Lake Erie. As a part of the St...

, which was improved and incorporated into the Saint Lawrence Seaway
Saint Lawrence Seaway
The Saint Lawrence Seaway , , is the common name for a system of locks, canals and channels that permits ocean-going vessels to travel from the Atlantic Ocean to the North American Great Lakes, as far as Lake Superior. Legally it extends from Montreal to Lake Erie, including the Welland Canal...

 in the middle 1950s. While the seaway diverted water traffic from nearby Buffalo
Buffalo, New York
Buffalo is the second most populous city in the state of New York, after New York City. Located in Western New York on the eastern shores of Lake Erie and at the head of the Niagara River across from Fort Erie, Ontario, Buffalo is the seat of Erie County and the principal city of the...

 and led to the demise of its steel and grain mills, other industries in the Niagara River valley flourished with the help of the electric power produced by the river. However, since the 1970s the region has declined economically.

The cities of Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls, Ontario
Niagara Falls is a Canadian city on the Niagara River in the Golden Horseshoe region of Southern Ontario. The municipality was incorporated on June 12, 1903...

, Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 and Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls, New York
Niagara Falls is a city in Niagara County, New York, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 50,193, down from the 55,593 recorded in the 2000 census. It is across the Niagara River from Niagara Falls, Ontario , both named after the famed Niagara Falls which they...

, New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, U.S.A.
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 are connected by two international bridges. The Rainbow Bridge
Rainbow Bridge (Niagara Falls)
The Rainbow Bridge at Niagara Falls is an international steel arch bridge across the Niagara River gorge, and is a world-famous tourist site. It connects the cities of Niagara Falls, New York, United States , and Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada .-Construction:The Rainbow Bridge was built near the...

, just downriver from the falls, affords the closest view of the falls and is open to non-commercial vehicle traffic and pedestrians. The Whirlpool Rapids Bridge
Whirlpool Rapids Bridge
The Whirlpool Rapids Bridge, commonly called the Whirlpool Bridge, and until 1937, known as the Lower Steel Arch Bridge, is a spandrel braced, riveted, two-hinged arch bridge. It crosses the international border between Canada and the United States, connecting the commercial downtown districts of...

 lies one mile (1.6 km) north of the Rainbow Bridge and the oldest bridge over the Niagara River. Nearby Niagara Falls International Airport
Niagara Falls International Airport
-Traffic figures:Niagara Falls International received 56,943 passengers in 2008. As per Federal Aviation Administration records, the airport had 660 passenger boardings in calendar year 2005 and 1,409 unscheduled enplanements in 2006....

 and Buffalo Niagara International Airport
Buffalo Niagara International Airport
Buffalo Niagara International Airport is an airport located in Cheektowaga CDP, Town of Cheektowaga, in Erie County, New York, USA. It is named after the Buffalo – Niagara Falls metropolitan area. The airport serves Buffalo, New York as well as Southern Ontario, Canada...

 were named after the waterfall, as were Niagara University
Niagara University
Niagara University is a Catholic university in the Vincentian tradition, located in the Town of Lewiston in Niagara County, New York. Originally founded by the Congregation of the Mission in 1856 as Our Lady of Angels Seminary, it became Niagara University in 1883. The University is still run by...

, countless local businesses, and even an asteroid.

Preservation efforts


Niagara Falls has long been a source of inspiration for explorers, travelers, artists, authors, filmmakers, residents and visitors, few of whom realize that the falls were nearly to be solely devoted to industrial and commercial use. In the 1870s, sightseers had limited access to Niagara Falls and often had to pay merely for a glimpse, and industrialization threatened to carve up Goat Island in an effort to further expand commercial development. Other industrial encroachments and lack of public access led to a conservation movement in the U.S. known as Free Niagara, led by such notables as Hudson River school artist Frederic Edwin Church
Frederic Edwin Church
Frederic Edwin Church was an American landscape painter born in Hartford, Connecticut. He was a central figure in the Hudson River School of American landscape painters...

, landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted
Frederick Law Olmsted
Frederick Law Olmsted was an American journalist, social critic, public administrator, and landscape designer. He is popularly considered to be the father of American landscape architecture, although many scholars have bestowed that title upon Andrew Jackson Downing...

, and architect Henry Hobson Richardson
Henry Hobson Richardson
Henry Hobson Richardson was a prominent American architect who designed buildings in Albany, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and other cities. The style he popularized is named for him: Richardsonian Romanesque...

. Mr Church approached Lord Dufferin, governor-general of Canada, with a proposal for international discussions on the establishment of a public park.
Goat Island was one of the inspirations for the American side of the effort. William Dorsheimer
William Dorsheimer
William Dorsheimer was an American lawyer, journalist and politician.-Life:...

, moved by the scene from the island, brought Olmsted to Buffalo in 1868 to design a city park system and helped promote Olmstead's career. Later, in 1879, the New York state legislature commissioned Olmsted and James T. Gardner to survey the falls and to create the single most important document in the Niagara preservation movement, a Special Report on the preservation of Niagara Falls. The report advocated for State purchase, restoration and preservation through public ownership of the scenic lands surrounding Niagara Falls. Restoring the former beauty of the falls was described in the report as a "sacred obligation to mankind." In 1883, Governor Grover Cleveland
Grover Cleveland
Stephen Grover Cleveland was the 22nd and 24th president of the United States. Cleveland is the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms and therefore is the only individual to be counted twice in the numbering of the presidents...

 drafted legislation authorizing acquisition of lands for a state reservation at Niagara and The Niagara Falls Association, a private citizens group founded in 1882, mounted a great letter writing campaign and petition drive in support of the park. Professor Charles Eliot Norton
Charles Eliot Norton
Charles Eliot Norton, was a leading American author, social critic, and professor of art. He was a militant idealist, a progressive social reformer, and a liberal activist whom many of his contemporaries considered the most cultivated man in the United States.-Biography:Norton was born at...

 and Olmsted were among the leaders of the public campaign, while New York Governor Alonzo Cornell opposed.

Preservationists' efforts were rewarded on April 30, 1885, when Governor David B. Hill
David B. Hill
David Bennett Hill was an American politician from New York who was the 29th Governor of New York from 1885 to 1891.-Life:...

 signed legislation creating the Niagara Reservation, New York's first state park. New York State began to purchase land from developers, under the charter of the Niagara Reservation State Park. In the same year, the province of Ontario established the Queen Victoria Niagara Falls Park for the same purpose. On the Canadian side, the Niagara Parks Commission
Niagara Parks Commission
The Niagara Parks Commission, or Niagara Parks for short, is an agency of government of Ontario which maintains the Ontario shoreline of the Niagara River.- History :...

 governs land usage along the entire course of the Niagara River, from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario.

In 1887, Olmsted and Calvert Vaux
Calvert Vaux
Calvert Vaux , was an architect and landscape designer. He is best remembered as the co-designer , of New York's Central Park....

 issued a supplemental report detailing plans to restore the falls. Their intent was "to restore and conserve the natural surroundings of the Falls of Niagara, rather than to attempt to add anything thereto", and the report anticipated fundamental questions. How would preservationists provide access without destroying the beauty of the falls? How would they restore natural landscapes damaged by man? They planned a park with scenic roadways, paths and a few shelters designed to protect the landscape while allowing large numbers of visitors to enjoy the falls. Commemorative statues, shops, restaurants, and a 1959 glass and metal observation tower were added later. Preservationists continue to strive to strike a balance between Olmsted's idyllic vision, and the realities of administering a popular scenic attraction.

Preservation efforts continued well into the 20th century. J. Horace McFarland, the Sierra Club
Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is the oldest, largest, and most influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892, in San Francisco, California, by the conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president...

, and the Appalachian Mountain Club
Appalachian Mountain Club
The Appalachian Mountain Club is one of the United States' oldest outdoor groups. Created in 1876 to explore and preserve the White Mountains in New Hampshire, it has expanded throughout the northeastern U.S., with 12 chapters stretching from Maine to Washington, D.C...

 persuaded the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 in 1906 to enact legislation to preserve the falls by regulating the waters of Niagara River. The act sought, in cooperation with the Canadian government, to restrict diversion of water, and a treaty resulted in 1909 that limited the total amount of water diverted from the falls by both nations to approximately 56,000 cubic feet (1,600 m3) per second. That limitation remained in effect until 1950.
Erosion control efforts have always been of extreme importance. Underwater weir
Weir
A weir is a small overflow dam used to alter the flow characteristics of a river or stream. In most cases weirs take the form of a barrier across the river that causes water to pool behind the structure , but allows water to flow over the top...

s redirect the most damaging currents, and the top of the falls have also been strengthened. In June 1969, the Niagara River was completely diverted away from the American Falls for several months through construction of a temporary rock and earth dam (clearly visible in the photo at right). While the Horseshoe Falls absorbed the extra flow, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers studied the riverbed and mechanically bolted and strengthened any faults they found; faults which would, if left untreated, have hastened the retreat of the American Falls. A plan to remove the huge mound of talus
Scree
Scree, also called talus, is a term given to an accumulation of broken rock fragments at the base of crags, mountain cliffs, or valley shoulders. Landforms associated with these materials are sometimes called scree slopes or talus piles...

 deposited in 1954 was abandoned owing to cost, and in November 1969, the temporary dam was dynamite
Dynamite
Dynamite is an explosive material based on nitroglycerin, initially using diatomaceous earth , or another absorbent substance such as powdered shells, clay, sawdust, or wood pulp. Dynamites using organic materials such as sawdust are less stable and such use has been generally discontinued...

d, restoring flow to the American Falls. Even after these undertakings, Luna Island
Luna Island
Luna Island is a very small uninhabited island in Niagara Falls, New York.-Location and features:It is between the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls, which are two of the three waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls...

, the small piece of land between the main waterfall and the Bridal Veil, remained off limits to the public for years owing to fears that it was unstable and could collapse into the gorge at any time.

Commercial interests have continued to encroach on the land surrounding the state park, including the construction of several tall buildings (most of them hotels) on the Canadian side. The result is a significant alteration and urbanisation of the landscape. One study indicated it has caused the airflow near the falls to change direction. Students at the University of Guelph
University of Guelph
The University of Guelph, also known as U of G, is a comprehensive public research university in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. It was established in 1964 after the amalgamation of Ontario Agricultural College, the Macdonald Institute, and the Ontario Veterinary College...

 demonstrated, using scale models, that as air passes over the top of the new hotels it causes a breeze to roll down the south sides of the buildings and spill into the gorge below the falls, where it feeds into a whirlpool of moisture and air. The inference was that a documented rise in the number of "mist days" was a result of these breezes, where mist days refers to the mist plume of the falls reaching landside. In 1996 there were 29 mist days recorded, but by 2003 that number had risen to 68. Another study has discounted this opinion and linked mist production primarily to the difference in air and water temperature at the falls. However, this study does not offer opinion as to why mist days have been increasing just that the hotel breezes are an unlikely cause.

Over the falls




In October 1829, Sam Patch
Sam Patch
Sam Patch , known as "The Yankee Leaper", became the first famous American daredevil after successfully jumping from a raised platform into the Niagara River near the base of Niagara Falls in 1829.-Biography:...

, who called himself "the Yankee Leapster", jumped from a high tower into the gorge below the falls and survived; this began a long tradition of daredevils
Stunt performer
A stuntman, or daredevil is someone who performs dangerous stunts, often as a career.These stunts are sometimes rigged so that they look dangerous while still having safety mechanisms, but often they are as dangerous as they appear to be...

 trying to go over the falls. On October 24, 1901, 63-year-old Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

 school teacher Annie Edson Taylor
Annie Edson Taylor
Annie Edson Taylor was an American adventurer who, on her 63rd birthday, October 24, 1901, became the first person to survive a trip over Niagara Falls in a barrel.-Early life:...

 was the first person to go over the falls in a barrel as a publicity stunt; she survived, bleeding, but virtually unharmed. Soon after exiting the barrel, she said, "No one ought ever do that again." Previous to Taylor's own attempt, on October 19 a domestic cat named Iagara was sent over the Horseshoe Falls in her barrel to test its strength. Contrary to rumours at the time, the cat survived the plunge unharmed and later was posed with Taylor in photographs. Since Taylor's historic ride, 14 other people have intentionally gone over the falls in or on a device, despite her advice. Some have survived unharmed, but others have drowned or been severely injured. Survivors of such stunts face charges and stiff fines, as it is illegal, on both sides of the border, to attempt to go over the falls.

In 1918, there was a near disaster when a barge, known locally as the Niagara Scow
Niagara Scow
The Niagara Scow is the unofficial name of the wreck of a small scow that brought two men perilously close to plunging over the Horseshoe Falls, the largest of the Niagara Falls...

, working upriver broke its tow, and almost plunged over the falls. Fortunately, the two workers on board saved their own lives by grounding the vessel on rocks just short of the falls.

Other daredevils have made crossing the falls their goal, starting with the successful passage by Jean François "Blondin" Gravelet in 1859. These tightrope walkers drew huge crowds to witness their exploits. Their wires ran across the gorge, near the current Rainbow Bridge, not over the waterfall itself. Among the many was Ontario's William Hunt
William Leonard Hunt
William Leonard Hunt , also known by the stage name The Great Farini, was a well known nineteenth and early twentieth century Canadian funambulist, entertainment promoter and inventor, as well as the first known white man to cross the Kalahari Desert on foot and survive.-Early life:Hunt, the second...

, who billed himself as "The Great Farini" and competed with Blondin in performing outrageous stunts over the gorge. Englishman Captain Matthew Webb
Matthew Webb
Captain Matthew Webb was the first recorded person to swim the English Channel without the use of artificial aids. On 25 August 1875 he swam from Dover to Calais in less than 22 hours.-Early life and career:...

, the first man to swim the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

, drowned in 1883 after unsuccessfully trying to swim the rapids down river from the falls.

In the "Miracle at Niagara", Roger Woodward, a seven-year-old American boy, was swept over the Horseshoe Falls protected only by a life vest on July 9, 1960, as two tourists pulled his 17-year-old sister Deanne from the river only 20 feet (6 m) from the lip of the Horseshoe Falls at Goat Island. Minutes later, Woodward was plucked from the roiling plunge pool beneath the Horseshoe Falls after grabbing a life ring thrown to him by the crew of the Maid of the Mist
Maid of the Mist
The Maid of the Mist is a boat tour of Niagara Falls. The boat starts off at a calm part of the Niagara River, near the Rainbow Bridge, and takes its passengers past the American and Bridal Veil Falls, then into the dense mist of spray inside the curve of the Horseshoe...

boat.

On July 2, 1984, Canadian Karel Soucek
Karel Soucek
Karel Soucek was a Canadian professional stuntman. He lived in Hamilton, Ontario....

 from Hamilton, Ontario
Hamilton, Ontario
Hamilton is a port city in the Canadian province of Ontario. Conceived by George Hamilton when he purchased the Durand farm shortly after the War of 1812, Hamilton has become the centre of a densely populated and industrialized region at the west end of Lake Ontario known as the Golden Horseshoe...

 successfully plunged over the Horseshoe Falls in a barrel with only minor injuries. Soucek was fined $500 for performing the stunt without a license. In 1985, he was fatally injured while attempting to re-create the Niagara drop at the Houston Astrodome. His aim was to climb into a barrel hoisted to the rafters of the Astrodome and to drop 180 feet (54.9 m) into a water tank on the floor. After his barrel released prematurely, it hit the side of the tank and he died the next day from his injuries.

In August 1985, Steve Trotter
Steve Trotter
Steve Trotter is a daredevil who is the youngest person to ever have gone over Niagara Falls in a barrel. He is also one of only a few to have gone over Niagara Falls twice in a barrel. He is also known for having performed other illegal stunts...

, an aspiring stunt man from Rhode Island, became the youngest person ever (age 22) and the first American in 25 years to go over the falls in a barrel. Ten years later, Trotter went over the falls again, becoming the second person to go over the falls twice and survive. It was also the second-ever "duo"; Lori Martin joined Trotter for the barrel ride over the falls. They survived the fall but their barrel became stuck at the bottom of the falls, requiring a rescue.

On September 28, 1989, Niagara's own Peter DeBernardi (age 42) and Jeffery James Petkovich (age 25) became the first "team" to successfully make it over the falls in a two-person barrel. The stunt was conceived by Peter DeBenardi, who wanted to discourage youth from following in his path of addictive drug use. Peter was also trying to leave a legacy and discourage his son Kyle Lahey DeBernardi (age 2) from using addictive drugs
DRUGS
Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows are an American post-hardcore band formed in 2010. They released their debut self-titled album on February 22, 2011.- Formation :...

. Peter DeBernardi had initially planned to have a different passenger. However, Peter's original partner backed out, and Peter was forced to look for an alternative. Jeffery Petkovich agreed to attempt the stunt with him. Peter claims he spent an estimated $30,000 making his barrel, made of steel
Steel
Steel is an alloy that consists mostly of iron and has a carbon content between 0.2% and 2.1% by weight, depending on the grade. Carbon is the most common alloying material for iron, but various other alloying elements are used, such as manganese, chromium, vanadium, and tungsten...

 and fiberglass
Fiberglass
Glass fiber is a material consisting of numerous extremely fine fibers of glass.Glassmakers throughout history have experimented with glass fibers, but mass manufacture of glass fiber was only made possible with the invention of finer machine tooling...

, which had harnesses, reinforcing steel bands, and viewing ports. Peter's barrel also had a radio for music and news reports, rudders to help steer the barrel through the falls, oxygen
Oxygen
Oxygen is the element with atomic number 8 and represented by the symbol O. Its name derives from the Greek roots ὀξύς and -γενής , because at the time of naming, it was mistakenly thought that all acids required oxygen in their composition...

, and a well-protected video camera to record the journey over the edge. They emerged shortly after going over with minor injuries and were charged with performing an illegal stunt
Stunt
A stunt is an unusual and difficult physical feat, or any act requiring a special skill, performed for artistic purposes in TV, theatre, or cinema...

 under the Niagara Parks Act.

On September 27, 1993 John "David" Munday, of Caistor Centre, Ontario, became the first known person to survive going over the falls twice.

Kirk Jones of Canton, Michigan became the first known person to survive a plunge over the Horseshoe Falls without a flotation device on October 20, 2003. While it is still not known whether Jones was determined to commit suicide, he survived the 16-story fall with only battered ribs, scrapes, and bruises.

A second person survived an unprotected trip over the Horseshoe Falls on March 11, 2009 and when rescued from the river, was reported to be suffering from severe hypothermia and a large wound to his head. His identity has not been released. Eyewitnesses reported seeing the man intentionally enter the water.

Movies and television


Already a huge tourist attraction and favorite spot for honeymooners, Niagara Falls visits rose sharply in 1953 after the release of Niagara
Niagara (1953 film)
Niagara is a 1953 thriller-film noir directed by Henry Hathaway and starring Joseph Cotten, Jean Peters, and introducing Marilyn Monroe. Unlike other film noirs of the time, Niagara was shot in Technicolor on location and was one of 20th Century Fox's biggest box-office hits of the year.-Plot:Ray...

, a movie starring Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe was an American actress, singer, model and showgirl who became a major sex symbol, starring in a number of commercially successful motion pictures during the 1950s....

 and Joseph Cotten
Joseph Cotten
Joseph Cheshire Cotten was an American actor of stage and film. Cotten achieved prominence on Broadway, starring in the original productions of The Philadelphia Story and Sabrina Fair...

. Later in the 20th century, the falls was a featured location in 1980s movie Superman II
Superman II
Superman II is the 1980 sequel to the 1978 superhero film Superman and stars Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve, Terence Stamp, Ned Beatty, Sarah Douglas, Margot Kidder, and Jack O'Halloran. It was the only Superman film to be filmed by two directors...

, and was itself the subject of a popular IMAX
IMAX
IMAX is a motion picture film format and a set of proprietary cinema projection standards created by the Canadian company IMAX Corporation. IMAX has the capacity to record and display images of far greater size and resolution than conventional film systems...

 movie, Niagara: Miracles, Myths and Magic
Niagara: Miracles, Myths and Magic
Niagara: Miracles, Myths and Magic is a 1986 IMAX film directed and produced by filmmaker Kieth Merrill. The film, currently shown hourly at Niagara Falls State Park's Adventure Theater, shows the history of the Niagara Falls, dating back to the earliest legends.The film also shows the creation and...

. Much of the episode Return of the Technodrome in the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon series
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987 TV series)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is an American animated television series produced by Murakami-Wolf-Swenson. The pilot was shown during the week of December 28, 1987 in syndication as a five part miniseries and began its official run on October 1, 1988...

 take place near the Niagara Falls and its hydroelectric plant. Illusionist David Copperfield
David Copperfield (illusionist)
David Copperfield is an Emmy Award-winning American illusionist, and was described by Forbes as the most commercially successful magician in history. Copperfield's network specials have been nominated for 38 Emmy Awards and won a total of 21 Emmys...

 performed a trick in which he appeared to travel over the Horseshoe Falls in 1990. The falls, or more particularly, the tourist-supported complex near the Falls, was the setting of the short-lived Canadian television show Wonderfalls
Wonderfalls
Wonderfalls is a comedy-drama television series that was broadcast on the Fox television network in 2004.The show centres on Jaye Tyler , a recent Brown University graduate with a philosophy degree, who holds a dead-end job as a sales clerk at a Niagara Falls gift shop...

in early 2004. More recently, location footage of the falls was shot in October 2006 to portray "World's End" of the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.

Music


Composer Ferde Grofe
Ferde Grofé
Ferde Grofé was a prominent American composer, arranger and pianist. During the 1920s and 1930s, he went by the name Ferdie Grofé.-Early life:...

 was commissioned by the Niagara Falls Power Generation project in 1960 to compose the Niagara Falls Suite
Niagara Falls Suite
The Niagara Falls Suite is a musical composition written by Ferde Grofe in 1960, and performed at Niagara Falls in 1961.- Composition :Grofe was commissioned in 1960 by the Niagara Falls Power Generation project to compose a symphonic suite...

 in honor of the completion of the first stage of hydroelectric work at the falls. Each movement is dedicated to the falls, or to the history of the greater Buffalo
Buffalo, New York
Buffalo is the second most populous city in the state of New York, after New York City. Located in Western New York on the eastern shores of Lake Erie and at the head of the Niagara River across from Fort Erie, Ontario, Buffalo is the seat of Erie County and the principal city of the...

 region.

Literature


The Niagara Falls area features as the base camp for a German aerial invasion of the United States in the H. G. Wells
H. G. Wells
Herbert George Wells was an English author, now best known for his work in the science fiction genre. He was also a prolific writer in many other genres, including contemporary novels, history, politics and social commentary, even writing text books and rules for war games...

 novel The War in the Air
The War in the Air
The War in the Air is a novel by H. G. Wells, written in 1907, serialized and published in 1908 in the Pall Mall Magazine. Like many of Wells’s works, it is notable for its prophetic ideas, images, and concepts, in this case, the use of the aircraft for the purpose of warfare and the coming of...

.

Tourism



Peak numbers of visitors occur in the summertime, when Niagara Falls are both a daytime and evening attraction. From the Canadian side, floodlights illuminate both sides of the falls for several hours after dark (until midnight). The number of visitors in 2007 was expected to total 20 million and by 2009, the annual rate was expected to top 28 million tourists per year.

The oldest and best known tourist attraction at Niagara Falls is the Maid of the Mist
Maid of the Mist
The Maid of the Mist is a boat tour of Niagara Falls. The boat starts off at a calm part of the Niagara River, near the Rainbow Bridge, and takes its passengers past the American and Bridal Veil Falls, then into the dense mist of spray inside the curve of the Horseshoe...

boat cruise, named for an ancient Ongiara Indian mythical character, which has carried passengers into the rapids immediately below the falls since 1846. Cruise boats operate from boat docks on both sides of the falls.

American side


From the U.S. side, the American Falls can be viewed from walkways along Prospect Point Park, which also features the Prospect Point Park observation tower
Prospect Point Park observation tower
The Prospect Point Park Observation tower is located in Niagara Falls, New York, USA and just east of the American Falls.The tower stands at 282 feet with the base at the gorge level and visitors entering at the ground level from Prospect Point Park. It sees eight million visitors annually.The...

 and a boat dock for the Maid of the Mist. Goat Island offers more views of the falls and is accessible by foot and automobile traffic by bridge above the American Falls. From Goat Island, the Cave of the Winds
Cave of the Winds (New York)
The Cave of the Winds was a natural cave behind Bridal Veil Falls at the Niagara Falls.The cave was some 130 feet high, 100 feet wide and 30 feet in depth. It was discovered in 1834, and originally dubbed Aeolus' Cave, after the Greek god of winds...

 is accessible by elevator and leads hikers to a point beneath Bridal Veil Falls. Also on Goat Island are the Three Sisters Islands, the Power Portal where a huge statue of Nikola Tesla can be seen, and a walking path which enables views of the rapids, the Niagara River, the gorge, and all of the falls. Most of these attractions lie within the Niagara Falls State Park
Niagara Falls State Park
Niagara Falls State Park is located in the City of Niagara Falls, New York in Niagara County. The park has the American Falls, the Bridal Veil Falls, and part of the Canadian Falls....

.

The Niagara Scenic Trolley offers guided trips along the American Falls and around Goat Island. Panoramic and aerial views of the falls can also be viewed from the Flight of Angels helium balloon ride, or by helicopter. The Niagara Gorge Discovery Center showcases the natural and local history of Niagara Falls and the Niagara Gorge. A casino and luxury hotel was opened in Niagara Falls, New York, by the Seneca Indian tribe. The Seneca Niagara Casino
Seneca Niagara Casino
Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel is a casino located in Niagara Falls, New York and was built to compete with Casino Niagara and Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort in Niagara Falls, Ontario...

 occupies the former Niagara Falls Convention Center. The new hotel is the first addition to the city's skyline since completion of the United Office Building
United Office Building
United Office Building is an art deco skyscraper located in Niagara Falls, New York at 220 Rainbow Boulevard.Designed by architect James A. Johnson. Completed in 1929 on the eve of the Great Depression, the building is one of the most important landmarks in downtown Niagara Falls...

 in the twenties.

Canadian side



On the Canadian side, Queen Victoria Park features manicured gardens, platforms offering spectacular views of both the American and Horseshoe Falls, and underground walkways leading into observation rooms which yield the illusion of being within the falling waters. The observation deck of the nearby Skylon Tower
Skylon Tower
The Skylon Tower, in Niagara Falls, Ontario, is an observation tower that overlooks both the American Falls, New York and the larger Horseshoe Falls, Ontario from the Canadian side of the Niagara River.-History:...

 offers the highest overhead view of the falls, and in the opposite direction gives views as far as distant Toronto. Along with the Minolta Tower
Minolta Tower
The Konica Minolta Tower Centre, opened in 1962, is located in the Fallsview district of Niagara Falls, Ontario and was the first of the modern observation towers built near the brink of the Falls....

 (formerly the Seagrams Tower and the Konica Minolta Tower, now called the Tower Hotel), it is one of two towers in Canada with a view of the falls.

Along the Niagara River, the Niagara River Recreational Trail runs the 35 miles (56 km) from Fort Erie
Fort Erie
Fort Erie was the first British fort to be constructed as part of a network developed after the Seven Years' War was concluded by the Treaty of Paris at which time all of New France had been ceded to Great Britain...

 to Fort George
Fort George, Ontario
Fort George National Historic Site is a historic military structure at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, that was the scene of several battles during the War of 1812...

, and includes many historical sites from the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

.

The Whirlpool Aero Car
Whirlpool Aero Car
The Whirlpool Aero Car or Spanish Aero Car is a cable car located in Niagara Falls, Ontario that transports passengers over a section of the Niagara River referred to as the Niagara Whirlpool.-History:...

, built in 1916 from a design by Spanish engineer Leonardo Torres y Quevedo
Leonardo Torres y Quevedo
Leonardo Torres y Quevedo was a Spanish civil engineer and mathematician of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.- Biography :Torres was born on 28 December 1852, on the Feast of the Holy Innocents, in Santa Cruz de Iguña, Molledo , Spain...

, is a cable car
Aerial tramway
An aerial tramway , cable car , ropeway or aerial tram is a type of aerial lift which uses one or two stationary ropes for support while a third moving rope provides propulsion...

 which takes passengers over the Niagara Whirlpool
Niagara Whirlpool
The Niagara Whirlpool is a natural whirlpool along the Niagara River located along the U.S.-Canadian border between New York and Ontario. The whirlpool is located in the Niagara Gorge, downstream from Niagara Falls...

 on the Canadian side. The Journey Behind the Falls
Journey Behind the Falls
Journey Behind the Falls is an attraction in Niagara Falls, Ontario located in the Table Rock Center beside the Canadian Horseshoe Falls...

—accessible by elevators from the street level entrance – consists of an observation platform and series of tunnels near the bottom of the Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side.

There are two casinos on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, the Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort
Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort
The Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada opened publicly on June 10, 2004. This $1 billion complex with a belle époque theme overlooks the Horseshoe Falls and is one of the most prominent features of the Niagara skyline...

 and Casino Niagara
Casino Niagara
Casino Niagara is a commercial casino located in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. It opened in 1996, on the site of the former Maple Leaf Village amusement park. It was originally an interim casino while the new Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort was constructed. Due to its prime location beside...

. The former is situated in the Fallsview Tourist Area
Fallsview Tourist Area
The Fallsview Tourist Area in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada is the main tourist attraction surrounding the Falls. In recent years, it has become the home many of the hotels in the city, such as: the Hilton Hotel, Marriott, and the recently-opened Comfort Inn Fallsview. Niagara Fallsview Casino...

, alongside many of the area's hotels, whilst the latter is adjacent to Clifton Hill
Clifton Hill (Niagara Falls)
Clifton Hill is one of the major tourist promenades in Niagara Falls, Ontario. The street, close in proximity to Niagara Falls and the Niagara River, leads from River Road on the Niagara Parkway to intersect with Victoria Avenue. The street contains a number of gift shops, wax museums, haunted...

, on Falls Avenue, a major tourist promenade.

See also


  • Federal Power Commission v. Tuscarora Indian Nation
    Federal Power Commission v. Tuscarora Indian Nation
    Federal Power Commission v. Tuscarora Indian Nation, , was a case decided by the United States Supreme Court which determined that the Federal Power Commission was authorized to take lands owned by the Tuscarora Indian tribe by eminent domain under the Federal Power Act for a hydroelectric power...

  • Incline railways at Niagara Falls
  • Niagara Falls, New York
    Niagara Falls, New York
    Niagara Falls is a city in Niagara County, New York, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 50,193, down from the 55,593 recorded in the 2000 census. It is across the Niagara River from Niagara Falls, Ontario , both named after the famed Niagara Falls which they...

  • Niagara Falls, Ontario
    Niagara Falls, Ontario
    Niagara Falls is a Canadian city on the Niagara River in the Golden Horseshoe region of Southern Ontario. The municipality was incorporated on June 12, 1903...

  • Niagara Scow
    Niagara Scow
    The Niagara Scow is the unofficial name of the wreck of a small scow that brought two men perilously close to plunging over the Horseshoe Falls, the largest of the Niagara Falls...

  • Ontario Hydro
    Ontario Hydro
    Ontario Hydro was the official name from 1974 of the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario which was established in 1906 by the provincial Power Commission Act to build transmission lines to supply municipal utilities with electricity generated by private companies already operating at Niagara...

  • Table Rock, Niagara Falls
    Table Rock, Niagara Falls
    This article is about the former rock formation in Niagara Falls. For the retail complex bearing its name, please see Table Rock Center.Table Rock was a large shelf of rock which jutted out from the Canadian shore of Niagara Falls, Ontario, just north of the present day observation and commercial...

  • Welland Canal
    Welland Canal
    The Welland Canal is a ship canal in Canada that extends from Port Weller, Ontario, on Lake Ontario, to Port Colborne, Ontario, on Lake Erie. As a part of the St...

  • Whirlpool Aero Car
    Whirlpool Aero Car
    The Whirlpool Aero Car or Spanish Aero Car is a cable car located in Niagara Falls, Ontario that transports passengers over a section of the Niagara River referred to as the Niagara Whirlpool.-History:...

  • List of waterfalls by flow rate

External links




Fiction

  • The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan
    Cathy Marie Buchanan
    Cathy Marie Buchanan is a Toronto-based writer. The Day the Falls Stood Still, her debut novel, was published in North America in 2009 and Italy and the UK in 2010. It immediately became a New York Times bestseller...

  • The Whirlpool by Jane Urquhart
    Jane Urquhart
    Jane Urquhart, OC is a Canadian novelist and poet.-Biography:Born 200 miles north of Thunder Bay, Ontario in Little Longlac , Ontario, Jane Urquhart is the third of three children and the only daughter of Marian and Walter Carter, a prospector and mining engineer...


Non-Fiction