Facts You Didn't Know about the Niagara Falls

Liam Macleod
17.05.2019
Facts You Didn't Know about the Niagara Falls
Author: Liam Macleod
17.05.2019 14:58PM

The beauty of Niagara Falls is difficult to describe, but I’ll give it a shot. The huge triple waterfalls - Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and the Bridal Veil Falls - are the kissing point between Canada and the USA. On one side lies Niagara Falls, Ontario, and on the other is Niagara Falls, New York. This Natural Wonder of the world is full of history, fun facts and trivia. Here’s a few of the best ones we could find.

It packs a punch.

It’s the biggest waterfall in North America, but there are nearly 500 waterfalls around the world that are higher. However, the three waterfalls of Niagara create the highest flow rate of any waterfall on the planet - it could fill an Olympic sized swimming pool in half a second.

It’s a Daredevil’s Paradise.

Many daredevils have made successful attempts to cross the gorge, starting with the Jean François Gravelet, who crossed Niagara Gorge in 1859. Between 1859 and 1896, a wire-walking craze emerged, resulting in frequent feats over the river below the falls. Only one man fell to his death, at night and under mysterious circumstances, at the anchoring place for his wire.

  • 1876 - 23-year-old Maria Spelterini was the first woman ever to cross the Niagara Gorge on a tightrope. She made four crossings over 18 days, including one while blindfolded. Tightrope crossings of the falls ended—by law—in 1896.
  • 2012 - 116 years later, high wire artist Nik Wallenda crossed the falls, after receiving special permission from both governments. Wallenda crossed near the brink of the Horseshoe Falls, unlike walkers who had crossed farther downstream. According to Wallenda, it was the longest unsupported tightrope walk in history. He carried his passport on the trip, and was required to present it upon arrival on the Canadian side of the falls.

It’s raining fish.

Fish commonly fly over the falls. Visitors on the Cave of the Winds tour have been stuck by them on their way down - so keep an eye out! Around 90% of the fish that go over the falls survive.

It’s a barrel of fun.

In 1901, 63-year-old Michigan school teacher Annie Edson Taylor went over the falls in a barrel. She survived, bleeding, but otherwise unharmed. It was intended as a publicity stunt, but after exiting the barrel, she said, "no one ought ever do that again”. There have been many attempts since, but some were not so lucky.

It’s only half the flow.

On average, Niagara Falls flows over 28 million litres of water… per second! Although there’s a ton of water tumbling down the falls, around 50-75% of the water flowing in the Niagara River is diverted away for human consumption. Less water is diverted in summer to provide a better show for tourists, but it’s hard to imagine even more water than there is. The peak flow over Horseshoe Falls was recorded at 225,000 cubic feet (6,400 m3) per second.

It’s got history.

The Maid of the Mist is the oldest tourist attraction in North America - it made its first voyage way back in 1846. However, it goes back even further than that - the Falls were created by the Wisconsin glaciation about 10,000 years ago. The same forces also created the North American Great Lakes and the Niagara River.

It’s (slowly) eroding.

It is estimated that 50,000 years from now, the remaining 20 miles (32 km) to Lake Erie will have been undermined, and the falls will cease to exist. The current rate of erosion is approximately 1 foot (0.30 m) per year, down from a historical average of 3 feet (0.91 m) per year.

The Marilyn Monroe connection.

The Falls have been a tourist attraction and honeymoon destination for over 200 years, but visits to Niagara rose sharply in 1953. That was the year the movie ‘Niagara’ was released, starring Marilyn Monroe and Joseph Cotten.

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