Niagara Falls: History and Geography

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

The Niagara Falls are one of the most beautiful natural phenomena in the world. It is mesmerizing in its majesty and power. Hundreds of travelers from all over the world come every day to see this amazing and unique natural monument.

General Information

Top view of Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls is a complex of three waterfalls. It is located on the border between two countries: the United States (New York State) and Canada (Province of Ontario) on the river of the same name. The coordinates of this place are 43.0834 degrees north latitude and 79.0663 degrees west longitude. The waterfall connects the lakes that make up the Great North American Lakes system: the Erie and Ontario. On the shores of the Niagara River near the Falls on both sides are two towns with the same name Niagara Falls.

When going to Niagara Falls, it is worth thinking out your route in advance, because you can get here in two ways: by flight to New York or by plane to the Canadian city of Toronto. There are excursions from both cities, but it is not necessary to take them at all, because you can get here on your own by bus.

Niagara Falls in the US and Canada

Each of the three cascades of Niagara has its own name. The waterfalls located in the United States are referred to as “American” and “Fata”. In Canada, the Horseshoe Falls are located.

Observation deck near the falls

Cascades of water rush down from a height of just over 50 meters, but the visible part is only 21 meters because of the piling of rocks at the foot. Niagara is not among the highest waterfalls in the world, but due to the enormous volume of water flowing through it, it is considered one of the most powerful on Earth. In one second it passes through more than 5.5 thousand cubic meters of water. The width of the Horseshoe Falls is 792 meters and the American Falls is 323 meters.

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Niagara Falls in winter

The climate in the area of the waterfall is temperate continental. In summer it is quite warm and sometimes hot, in winter the temperature is minus, and the waterfall is partially frozen. You can come here all year round, because in any season it is beautiful in its own way.

Frozen Niagara Falls

The waters of Niagara are actively used to provide energy to the surrounding areas of Canada and the United States. Several hydroelectric power plants have been built on the banks of the river.

History of Origin and Names

Rocks near the falls

The Niagara River and the Great North American Lakes originated about 6,000 years ago. The Wisconsin glaciation triggered their formation. The movement of the glacier, which swept away everything in its path, completely changed the topography of the area. The rivers flowing through the area were filled up, and in some cases, on the contrary, widened. After the melting of the glaciers began, water from the Great Lakes began to flow into the Niagara River. The rocks forming its bottom were soft in some places, so the water eroded them, forming a steep precipice – so there was a famous natural landmark in the form of a waterfall.

Waterfall in the evening

The first mention of Niagara Falls dates back to the beginning of the 17th century. In 1604, an expedition of Samuel de Champlain visited the mainland where the waterfall is located. Later, he described the natural object in his journal according to the other participants of the trip. Champlain did not personally see the falls. Six decades later, a detailed description of Niagara Falls was compiled by a Catholic monk, Louis Ennepin, who traveled in North America.

The word “Niagara” literally translates from the language of the Iroquois Indians as “the roar of water. The waterfall is believed to be named after the indigenous people who lived nearby, the Onigara tribe.

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Extreme or Insane

Helicopter view of the falls

Since the time when traveling became fashionable and more precisely since the early 19th century, tourists began to flock to the shores of Niagara Falls. Some of them wanted not only to see the unique wonder of nature, but also to try to go through it.

A powerful waterfall

The first one to do it was the American stuntman Sam Patch. He jumped into the Niagara River at the foot of the falls in November 1929 and survived. Sam had been preparing for the jump; information about the upcoming stunt appeared long before it was performed. The event, according to his plans, should have been well attended. However, bad weather overshadowed the stuntman’s “performance”. Not many people gathered, and the fee received did not suit Patch. That’s why exactly one week later he promised to do it again. But the daredevil’s second attempt to conquer Niagara ended sadly. Sam never surfaced, and his body was not found until several months later.

Waterfall in Canada

In 1901, Annie Taylor, a 63-year-old American extreme climber, dared to walk through the falls while sitting in a barrel. In such an unusual way the lady wanted to celebrate her birthday. The woman managed to survive, and her name went down in history.

After that incident, Niagara Falls periodically tried to conquer the thrill seekers. The authorities even had to impose a ban on such stunts. But now and again daredevils rushed from the falls. Many of them died, and those who survived were fined.

An interesting fact is the miraculous rescue of a seven-year-old boy named Roger Woodward, who was accidentally swept into Niagara Falls. He was wearing only a life jacket, but nevertheless the child managed to survive.

Excursions and activities

Sightseeing platform near Niagara Falls in the US

Tourists mainly come to Niagara to visit the falls themselves. You can do it both from the American side and from the Canadian side. It is equipped with several viewing platforms from which you can take great pictures of falling down streams of water. The most impressive pictures are from Table Rock Lookout.

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Boat trip near Niagara Falls

For those who want to see the attraction up close and even feel the spray of the jets, you should take a ride on pleasure boats. Tourists are brought in turn to each of the three cascades. Before boarding the pleasure craft everyone is given a raincoat, but even he will not save from the powerful jets of Niagara Falls. The Horseshoe Falls are the most spectacular to watch.

Niagara Falls from above

Another excursion that is sure to be memorable offers travelers to be behind the waterfall. You can also fly over this unique natural object in a helicopter or hot air balloon. The only disadvantage of such entertainment is a rather high price.

Be sure to walk across the Rainbow Bridge, which is located a few hundred meters from the main attraction of Niagara. In clear weather, you can see the bridge from the observation decks.

Queen Victoria Park

There are museums, national monuments, and park areas near Niagara Falls. Queen Victoria Park is especially popular with tourists. It is located in Canada. Here you can walk among the flowers and trees, sit in a cafe and see the main attraction of this area from the observation deck.

The nearby museums are devoted mainly to the history of discovery and interesting facts about Niagara Falls. In them you can see a collection of objects on which desperate daredevils tried to conquer the Falls. As well as wax figures of people whose lives are in one way or another connected with the famous natural monument.

Niagara Falls by night

Niagara Falls is also interesting to see at night. At night there is a real light show. The jets are illuminated by different colors with the help of spotlights. All this looks truly fabulous.

View of Niagara Falls in winter

In winter, the waterfall is no less beautiful. Niagara is a partially frozen waterfall. Only its edges are covered with ice. In the middle of the cascade, the water continues to pour down all year round. During the known history of the falls due to abnormally low temperatures, three times it has frozen completely. Ride to Niagara on a boat in the winter, of course, does not work, but at this time of year you can watch a colorful festival of fireworks. Lighting Falls on those days is on almost around the clock, and the sky fly colorful lights of fireworks.

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Niagara Falls is one of the most impressive and colorful natural sites in the world. Its beauty will not leave indifferent even the most sophisticated tourists. Once you are at the foot of the falls it is impossible not to feel the power and might of this natural phenomenon. Developed infrastructure near the object will allow a bright trip and remember it for a lifetime.

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