145 Niagara Falls Facts That Will Amaze You About This Wonder

Martha Martins
Feb 29, 2024 By Martha Martins
Originally Published on Dec 05, 2021
This magnificent waterfall adorns the continent of North America
Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.7 Min

At some point in our life, we have surely used the metaphor of Niagara Falls to signify something magnificent and unending.

This magnificent waterfall adorns the continent of North America and boasts of being the tallest waterfall in the world. This voluptuous waterfall has been flowing for a long time in history, making it one of the top tourist attractions in the world.

Have you ever given a thought about why we use the term Niagara Falls and not Niagara Fall? As opposed to the popular notion, there are a set of three waterfalls that are together termed the Niagara Falls. Two of these, Horseshoe Falls or Canadian Falls lie on the Canadian side in southern Ontario, while the other two, the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls, lie on the US side in New York City. The gallons of water gushing down such great heights every second makes up a spectacular view to behold. The falls owing to its scenic beauty attracts tourists from all over the world, the Niagara Falls State Park, built on its sides has opened exciting fun-filled activities for the visitors to enjoy. Be it in winters or the summers, you should definitely keep Niagara Falls on your bucket list if you ever plan on visiting North America. Probably, this is the reason why it pours over 700,000 gallons of water per second, flowing at a speed of 25 mph (40.2 kph). While most people attribute Niagara Falls that cover North America to be the tallest waterfall, but it is not. The Yosemite Waterfall is the tallest waterfall of North America and Niagara, the largest, owing to its steep height and wide area covering the Horseshoe Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and American falls in unison. However, in terms of height, Niagara Falls comes second after the Victoria Falls of Africa, the tallest waterfall in the world.

Want to unearth more facts about Niagara Falls? Read on to learn everything you need to know about this mighty waterfall. If you find this helpful you can also check out interesting facts about Brazil Iguazu Falls and Angel Falls Venezuela here.

Fun Facts About Niagara Falls

Some fascinating facts about Niagara falls which you should know whether you visit or you don't visit this natural wonder.

The Niagara Falls is a creation of the melting glaciers of North America during the last Ice Age, some 12,000 years ago. The five important glacial meltwater lakes known as the Great Lakes emerged out of the retreating ice sheets. Out of the five Great Lakes, the water draining out of Lake Erie creates the Niagara River, which makes its way down from the Niagara Gorge as Niagara Falls. Thereafter, it enters Lake Ontario. Carrying all the waters, Lake Ontario drains into the St. Lawrence River, which finally debouches itself into the Atlantic Ocean.

The word Niagara has been derived from an Iroquois word "Onguiaahra" which means "thundering waters", owing to the massive sound it generates while plunging down. There is plenty of courageous freshwater fish that traverse across Niagara falls. Their bodies are designed to survive falling from the great height and the foam formed at the plunging site acts as a cushion for the dropping fish. Who knew that one can even get a Honeymoon Certificate at the Niagara, issued by the mayor for free? No wonder it is called the Honeymoon Capital of the World.

Geographical Facts About Niagara Falls

Located in the continent of North America, the strategic location of Niagara Falls at the boundary of southern Ontario in Canada and the New York City of USA makes it accessible to both countries.

The height of the American Falls is 70-110 ft (21-34 m) when measured up to the rocks of the talus slope while it is 188 ft (57 m) when measured up to the river bed. The Horseshoe or Canadian Falls is 167 ft (50.9 m) but the length of its brink (26,000 ft or 792.4 m) exceeds that of the other two falls, making it the largest among the three. Since the Great Lakes, Niagara River along with the entire Niagara system is a recent geological origin, the erosion rates of the Niagara River are extremely high, causing it to erode at a rate of 1.5 ft per year and is also the fastest retreating waterfall in the world. The waterfall has astonishingly retreated almost 7 miles since the time of its formation around 12,000 years ago. The Niagara Gorge, made out of soft sedimentary layers comprising of limestone, shale, and sandstone along with gushing water flow makes it vulnerable to backward retreating. This is also the reason why the water flowing at its full flow down the gorge appears green in color. The huge volume of sediments mixed in the foaming waters reflects a greenish hue. Just where the water drops from the great heights, a natural whirlpool forms, having a depth of 127 ft (39 m).

During the frigid winters, the water of the Niagara River freezes which results in the formation of ice floes. These floes while falling down the gorge, freezes even more and form an ice bridge from top to bottom, which gives a spectacular view of the falls. The journey starting from the Great Lakes, the Niagara River, Niagara Falls, Lake Ontario, St. Lawrence River to the Atlantic Ocean takes around 15 hours. The total volume of water at Niagara is enough to build seven Olympic-size pools

You might wonder from where does so much water come from? You will be surprised to know that most of Niagara's water is fossil water that melted during the northward glacial retreat during the Ice Age. While other sources include precipitation in the form of rain and snow that maintains the falls' flow.

Find volumes of fun information about Niagara Falls

Historical Facts About Niagara Falls

Now that we know about the evolutionary history of Niagara Falls, let us take a look at some of its interesting historical facts.

Niagara falls have stood experiencing a host of events starting from the world's first attempts of hydel power generation to the exploration of several curious people in history. The first tribal settlers near Niagara falls appeared between 1300-1400 AD. Soon after, a French explorer named, Samuel de Champlain, was among the first people to encounter the mighty falls and draw a map of the place. The Niagara Falls also stood as a witness to the Battle of Lundy's Lane or the Niagara Falls War of 1812.

To ferry people across the Niagara Gorge, the first ferry service commenced in 1820. One of the important Niagara parks, the Niagara Reservation, overlooking the Niagara Falls is the first and the oldest state park of the United States covering an area of 400 acres, with 140 acres underwater, was built in 1885. The world's first hydroelectric power generation plant was built in 1895 by Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse. A once in a blue moon moment occurred when the water flows of the falls stopped completely for 30 hours straight during the winters of 1848 when ice fields blocked the free flow of the Niagara River, coming out of Lake Erie.

Since its inception, the overwhelming curiosity around Niagara Falls has led to quite a handful of daredevils trying to explore the vast stretches of the falls. The first attempt was made by William Porseth in 1827, who didn't go himself but cleverly designed a boat like a pirate ship, boarding several animals like a bison, goose, dog, and pairs of bears and raccoons, sent them down the falls. While the bears survived, all the other animals perished. In 1859, the first person to take a leap into the Niagara Falls was Sam Patch, who jumped off 80 ft from the Horseshoe Falls into the whirlpool rapids and managed to survive. But he was fined $2,600 and was banned from entering Canada throughout his life. For obvious reasons, Sam Patch was known as the Yankee Leaper. Yet another brave-hearted man named Charles Blondin, was the first to traverse across the Niagara Falls from the top of the Niagara Gorge, on a tightrope in just 20 minutes. Right after him, in 1876, an Italian woman named Maria Spelterini traversed across the gorge on a tightrope. She was the first and still remains the only woman to walk across Niagara Falls. Another steel-hearted stunt was performed by Captain Matthew Webs in 1883, who dared to jump into the whirlpool rapids of Niagara Falls. To his misfortune, he suffered massive injuries and could not survive in the whirling waters after jumping from such a massive height. A 63-year old enthusiastic female school teacher was curious enough to explore Niagara Falls. In 1901, Miss Annie Edson Taylor set herself on a barrel and launched into the waterfall, and returned suffering minor injuries.

Tourism Facts About Niagara Falls

A major tourist destination of the world, here are some tourism facts about Niagara Falls which you should know before visiting the place.

Owing to the natural scenic beauty, Niagara Falls has been well preserved as a top tourist attraction by the two cities- New York on the USA's side and Ontario on Canada's side. The two cities on either side of the falls are connected by bridges like the Rainbow Bridge, Whirlpool bridge, and Queenston-Lewiston bridges. From both countries, the Maid of the Mist boat service offers exclusive boat tours that take the tourists to the base of the mighty waterfall to enjoy the spray-like mist wetting the skin. The Niagara Falls Museum preserves the memory of the Battle of Niagara Falls in 1812. The Niagara Falls State Park is yet another major attraction and boasts of being the oldest state park in America.

The annual Winter Festival of Lights lights up Niagara Falls in beautiful colors in winter evenings attracting a host of tourists from across the world. For enjoying a bird's eye view of the Niagara region, including the American Falls, Horseshoe Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, New York, Ontario, and the Niagara River, climb up to the Skylon Tower at the Canadian side of the Niagara Falls. Stroll around the Butterfly Conservatory in the Niagara parks viewing over 40 butterfly species.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for 145 Niagara Falls facts that will amaze you about this Wonder then why not take a look at Andaman sea, or antarctic ocean facts.

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Written by Martha Martins

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Linguistics

Martha Martins picture

Martha MartinsBachelor of Arts specializing in Linguistics

Martha is a full-time creative writer, content strategist, and aspiring screenwriter who communicates complex thoughts and ideas effectively. She has completed her Bachelor's in Linguistics from Nasarawa State University. As an enthusiast of public relations and communication, Martha is well-prepared to substantially impact your organization as your next content writer and strategist. Her dedication to her craft and commitment to delivering high-quality work enables her to create compelling content that resonates with audiences.

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