Niagara Falls – worth a visit?
Niagara Falls is so popular with tourists. Many say they love the falls, others simply hate them. But why? What’s so special about Niagara Falls?
Well, first of all the three falls straddle the international border between the United States and Canada. More specifically they are the border between Ontario, Canada and the State of New York, USA. The three falls are called „Horseshoe Falls“, „American Falls“ and „Bridal Veil Falls“. In my opinion the Horeshoe Falls is the most spectacular out of the three but I may be a little biased as I am a huge Canada fan.
But how did the Falls form?
Niagara Falls were formed when glaciers receded at the end of the Wisconsin glaciation (the last ice age), and water from the newly formed Great Lakes carved a path through the Niagara Escarpment en route to the Atlantic Ocean. While not exceptionally high, the Niagara Falls are very wide. More than six million cubic feet (168,000 m3) of water falls over the crest line every minute in high flow, and almost four million cubic feet (110,000 m3) on average.
Yes, I know this yellow Cape thing is hardly flattering but it was better than getting soaking wet.
The falls are just stunning and there are lots of things to do. Many tour operators offer guided tours around the falls. We chose to go with Cataract Tours and our guide Carlos was just amazing. He was funny, patient and in an exeptionally good mood. He took the time to tell us various facts and funny stories about the Falls.
Fun Facts about Niagara Falls
- Niagara Falls is comprised of three waterfalls: American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and Horseshoe Falls.
- The American and Bridal Veil Falls were turned off in 1969 by the U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers to study the effects of erosion.
- The water that flows over the Falls is at 25-50% capacity at any given time.
- The first person to go over the Falls in a barrel was 63-year-old school teacher Annie Edson Taylor.
- The Cave of the Winds attraction at the Falls is torn down and re-built every year.
- Niagara Falls State Park is the oldest State Park in the United States.
- The birth of Niagara Falls can be traced back more than 12,000 years to the end of the last glacial period.
- Despite myths to the contrary, Niagara Falls does not freeze in the winter. However, the flow of water was reduced to a mere trickle for a few hours on March 29, 1848 because of an ice jam upstream in the Niagara River.
- During periods of peak flow in the summer and fall, more than 700,000 gallons of water per second pour over Niagara Falls.
- Four of the five Great Lakes drain into the Niagara River, (Superior, Michigan, Huron and Erie) before emptying into Lake Ontario. These five Great Lakes make up almost one-fifth of the world’s fresh water supply.
- At one time, P.T. Barnum wanted to turn Goat Island (inside Niagara Falls State Park) into a circus ground.
- Energy from the Niagara River has been harnessed for hydro-electric power generation as far back as the mid-eighteenth century.
- Power generation facilities along the Niagara River supply more than one-quarter of all power used in New York State and Ontario.
- 50 to 75 percent of the water flowing along the Niagara River is diverted from going over the Falls to hydroelectric power generating stations.
- One of the oldest surviving United States flags is permanently displayed at Fort Niagara. It was captured by the British during the War of 1812.
- Castellani Art Museum of Niagara University features a world-class collection of contemporary art and „Freedom Crossing: The Underground Railroad in Greater Niagara“ gallery.
- The historic village of Lewiston was the site of the first battle of the War of 1812 and the last stop for slaves escaping to freedom on the Underground Railroad.
- The original Flight of Five locks that were built in 1840 still exist along the Erie Canal in Lockport.
- Surrounded by water, Niagara USA is a fishing mecca that offers exciting opportunities in and on Lake Ontario, the Niagara River and the Erie Canal.
The only thing I found sad is that Niagara Falls has turned into Little Las Vegas with Casinos, Hostels and Motels everywhere. The falls are really crowded so be sure to go in the morning. We took the bus from Toronto to Niagara Falls and then entered the US „on foot“. We didn’t stay at Niagara Falls because we had already booked a rental car and left at night to drive down to Syracuse, New York.
If you are not a lover of „touristy“ things then Niagara Falls might not be the place to go for you. I loved it though and would go back in a heartbeat !!!!
So after reading all those fun facts – is Niagara Falls worth a visit? Leave a comment below. Can’t wait to read it!
PS: Viki has put up a post about her road trip through Canada which included a visit to the Falls. Check it out –> 2 Week Road Trip through Ontario and Quebec – Canada for Firsttimers