Niagra Falls History...it's okay...many people spell it wrong...it really should be Niagara Falls History

Niagra Falls history or properly spelled it should read Niagara Falls history, is full of intriguing facts. From how Niagara Falls was created to the interesting ice bridges that were a tourist attration in the late 1800's. There is so much Niagara Falls history. Below you will find my compilation of the most interesting historical facts.


Niagara Falls history

How did Niagara Falls get its name?


The name Niagara Falls comes from the Native Americans who first discovered the falls. Niagara is a Native American word for "Thundering water". If you have ever visited Niagara Falls Canada you will know that it is appropriately named the "thundering water falls" as it roars day and night.

How far does Niagara Falls move every year?

The history of Niagara Falls tells us that the falls have moved back 7 miles or 11.3 kms in the last 12,500 years! Scientists believe that the original location of Niagara Falls was at Queenston/Lewiston.  Movement happened because the water in the Niagara River eroded away the rocks of the Niagara Escarpment to form the "Great Gorge" - which is absolutely spectacular to look at.   Today the "Great Gorge" is where the Niagara River runs through.  

The reason for Niagara Falls to move is the volume of water flowing over the falls causing the rock underneath the water to erode.  Thus, making Niagara Falls the fastest moving waterfall in the world.  

Niagara Falls has moved from Lake Ontario closer to Lake Erie (see the location map) at a rate of 5 feet or 1.5 meters per year in the last 200 years.

But... the rate by which the falls move has varied over time.  

In 1953 the water control dam was built to divert water into the hydro intake tunnels; this would assist in controlling the water level flowing over the falls.  By doing this remedial work on the falls, it has brought the erosion level down to less than 1 foot or 0.3 meters per year.

In Niagara Falls they are hoping to continue remedial efforts on the Horseshoe Falls to be able to reduce the erosion to approximately 1 foot or 0.3 meters every 10 years.  Such remedial work is done by repairing faults and constructing submerged dams.

At present day, the falls have a limestone cap which is a very hard rocks that resists erosion.  If the falls reach soft rock again, erosion will increase.

Niagara Falls movement

Reasons for Niagara Falls moving

Niagara Falls erodes so fast because of the sheer amount of water flowing over the falls.

It erodes because

  • the water carries the rocks and debris from the Niagara river over the falls
  • rocks at the edge of the waterfall break off and weaken the rock underneath
  • Niagara Falls Canada gets very cold and the freezing and thawing of the rocks weakens them
  • Even the frost and the spray can have a dissolving effect

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The Maid of Mist Legend

Maid of Mist Legend

There are many Native American legends that surround Niagra Falls history (or better yet Niagara Falls history). One of the famous legends is the "Maid of the Mist" in which they have since named the attraction after.

This legend tells of a maiden going over Niagara Falls in a canoe to appease the Thunder God Hinum.

The tale goes on to say that the maiden came back to her tribe to warn them about a snake at the bottom of the falls that would poison the Indians water and cause them to die. The maiden was allowed to return to her people to tell them how to kill the snake.

So the Indians speared the snake, it crawled back to the falls and died in the shape of a horseshoe. That is how they believed the falls got their shape.

Interesting Niagra Falls history dates back to the founders of the falls.

Niagara Falls Ice Bridges

Did you know that the water at the bottom of the falls used to freeze in the wintertime creating "ice bridges"? It was a very popular attraction in the late 1800's to walk out on these "ice bridges" on a Sunday afternoon.

The water underneath could cause the bridge to break into pieces at any moment making this a very dangerous adventure. Not until 1912 after three consecutive drowning was walking on the "ice bridges" prohibited.

Did you know that Niagara Falls froze once? In the mid 1800's Niagara Falls was reduced to a trickle.

In the mid 1800's the area next to the Horseshoe Falls was a mess. Shops were set up by businessmen all hoping to make a buck from the tourists coming to view the falls. These businesses were uncontrolled and often harassed the tourists. In 1878, Lord Dufferin, the Governor General of Canada, made a suggestion that a park be established next to the Falls. After some time, properties around the falls were expropriated and most of the buildings demolished. In 1899, a park named after Queen Victoria was created to help preserve the natural beauty of the falls.

The history of Niagara Falls can be very interesting. It is always neat to look back and see what makes up the heritage of our beautiful Niagara Falls.

History of the falls also includes daredevils like a man named Charles Blondin who walked over Niagara Falls on a tight rope. It sounds crazy, but he did it several times and several different ways.

Well, now that you know Niagra Falls history, you can start spelling it Niagara Falls history instead of the ever popular mistake of Niagra Falls history.

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