Facts About The Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls, one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world. Have you been there before? While it might not be the tallest waterfall in the world, it looks magnificent nonetheless. What do you know about the waterfall? Have you ever heard about the daredevils who attempted to challenge the waterfall? Or perhaps the history of it in general? We have compiled a list of interesting facts for you - so buckle up and sit tight, as we are off to discover the Niagara Falls.
Origin of the Waterfall
The waterfall was believed to be formed around 12,000 years ago, at the end of the Ice Age when the ice melted and flowed into the Niagara River. And through years of erosion and periodic rock-falls, it slowly became the waterfall that we know of today. It was first discovered by the Native Americans in the area, who also harnessed its power.
This might be a known fact for North Americans - but for those who don't know, the waterfall actually stretches between two countries, the US and Canada. The waterfall itself lies between Ontario in Canada and New York. The waterfall also consists of three parts, from largest to smallest - the Horseshoe Falls (also known as the Canadian Falls), American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls.
If the name “Niagara” doesn’t sound English to you, you are correct - it is believed to be a derivative of the Iroquoian word “Onguiaahra”, which means “The Strait” in English, which was then Anglicized by the missionaries to Niagara that we know of today. However, there are also other theories as to the origin of the name. Some also believed it to be connected to another native word meaning “Thundering Waters”.
Humans have long dreamt of harnessing the power of magnificent sites as such - and we did it. Nowadays, Niagara Falls is one of the world's greatest sources of hydroelectric power. In 1893, a small 2,200-kilowatt plant was built on the Canadian side to generate electricity. However, with the advance in technology, it can now generate more than 2.4 million kilowatts of electricity, enough to power 24 million 100-watt light bulbs.
Number of Visitors
Being one of the most famous tourist attractions, it gathers millions of visitors per year. How many you may ask? According to reports, in 2017, a total of approximately 12.9 million people visited Niagara, with the majority on the Canadian side (~8.4 million visitors). To give you a perspective - Finland, a country in Europe, only has a population of five to six million.
While Tesla is renowned for his rivalry with industrialist Thomas Edison, they also have a bit of history concerning Niagara Falls, and Tesla’s victory here changed the course of human history...in a way. At the time, the competition in electricity was between Edison’s DC current vs Tesla’s AC current - and the choice of utilizing Tesla’s AC current at the hydropower plant here at Niagara laid the foundation of the electricity network that we have today.
Oldest State Park in America
Apart from the magnificent waterfall itself, Niagara also has an important status as the oldest state park in the US. Niagara Falls State Park, located in Niagara County, New York, was found in 1885 after the Niagara Appropriations Bill was signed into law. Paving the way to future preservation works in the country.
Daredevils have been attempting stunts at Niagara Falls for years, where the tightrope stunt there can be traced back to 1859. Fast forward a century and a half, though it is more difficult to do so these days, people are still doing it. Nik Wallenda, for example, completed the stunt in 2012 - to abide by international immigration law, he had to carry a passport on the journey and was greeted by Canadian border controls once he entered Canadian territory. Ah. Borders.
Fastest Tightrope Crossing
Throughout history, numerous people have tried crossing the Niagara Falls on a tightrope. However, the record was set by Clifford Calverley - he made a crossing on a ¾ inch steel cable in just a little over 6 minutes… he also reportedly performed a few stunts on the cable while crossing. I honestly do not understand why people would do that.
Apart from tightrope walks, people also attempted different kinds of stunts at Niagara Falls. One of them is the barrel drop - though we are not sure why someone would want to try it. Annie Edson Taylor, a 63-year-old schoolteacher, dived down the waterfall in a barrel...and survived. And in case you are thinking about it - it is illegal, and a bad idea in general.
Water Flow Per Second
Niagara Falls is huge - but can you guess how much water is flowing per second? Well, a lot. 3,160 tons of water. Yes, 3,160 tons of water per second - not per day, nor per hour, but seconds. It is a combination of three falls together - 75,750 gallons of water per second over the American and Bridal Veil Falls, and 681,750 gallons over the Horseshoe Falls.
681,750 gallons over the Horseshoe Falls...so what does it mean? When the water reaches the bottom there is also an impact - and a very strong one. At the Horseshoe Falls, 2,509 tons of force hit the base of the falls. To give you a perspective, a blue whale weighs 200 tons - so we are talking about 12 blue whales.
Lake Sturgeon Fish
Talking about fauna and flora - the lower Niagara river also supports one of New York State's endangered fish, the Lake Sturgeon. The Lake Sturgeon, a temperate fish occurring in freshwater systems of North America from the Hudson Bay through the Mississippi River drainages. At the moment, there are only six remaining lake sturgeon populations with more than 1,000 adult fish.
The Collapse of Honeymoon Bridge
We should never underestimate mother nature, at times even the strongest man-made structures do not stand a chance in the face of mother nature. In 1897, the construction of the Upper Steel Arch Bridge, also known as Honeymoon Bridge was completed. However, in 1938, it collapsed under pressure from the buildup of ice in the gorge below the falls. Luckily, no one got hurt.
Here they are - some of the facts about Niagara Falls. Have you heard these facts before? If you have never been there, perhaps you would like to visit there one day? If you would like to go there someday, why not share this with someone you would like to go with?