Niagara Falls is a combination of three separate waterfall systems flowing along the Niagara River from Lake Erie into Lake Ontario. Together, the three waterfall systems form the highest water flow rate in the world. The three waterfalls combine for an astounding 165 feet drop. The most recognizable and largest of the three waterfalls, Horseshoe Falls, lies on the Canada side of the border. Horseshoe Waterfalls is the most powerful waterfall in North America. It is approximately 2,600 feet wide and water falls almost 173 feet straight down. The American Falls is the second largest waterfall and is approximately 1,060 feet wide. Water falls between 70-100 feet. The American Falls lie on the American border. The smallest waterfall is called the Bridal Veil Falls, which resides on the American side of the border. Approximately 12,000 years ago, Niagara Falls was formed by receding glaciers. As the ice caps melted, the water flowed and cut the surrounding rock to form the river, lakes and waterfall system.
The first European to document Niagara Falls was Father Louis Hennepin in 1678. From his publications, Niagara Falls became a tourist sensation. Jerome Bonaparte visited Niagara Falls with his wife in the 18th century. In 1848, an ice blockage stopped water from flowing over the falls for approximately 40 hours. On average, over 4 million cubic feet of water flow of the waterfalls a minute.
In 1759, Daniel JonCaire attempted to build a small canal above the falls to power his sawmill. Augustus and Peter Porter purchased the canals around the American Falls, enlarging them enough to power their gristmill and tannery. The Niagara Falls Hydraulic Mining and Power company was formed in 1853. The company enlarged and built new canals to create electricity and in 1881, the first hydroelectric station was completed. By 1896, new hydroelectric generators were capable of producing 100,000 horsepower and sending power to Buffalo. After a landslide destroyed much of the power station, a new and improved station was built. The new station opened in 1961 and was the largest hydroelectric power station in the western hemisphere. Today, the Niagara Falls power station produces 2.4 gigawatts.
Niagara Falls State Park is the oldest park in the State Park system. Located only 17 miles from Buffalo, New York and 75 miles from Ontairo, Canada, Niagara Falls can easily be accessed by visiting tourists. The first person to go over the falls in a barrel was Annie Edson Taylor, in 1901. It is now illegal for people to go over the falls. Other daredevils walk tightropes across the Horseshoe falls, while others jump into the falls from the tightropes.
quick facts & figures
Recorded in 1678
Largest State Park
Electricity Output: 2.4 gigawatts
Horseshoe Falls Width: 2600′
Horseshoe Drop: 173′
American Falls Width: 1060′
American Falls Drop: 70-100′