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A Short History of Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls has a rich history that has led to the creation of a tourist destination that millions of people flock to each year. The largest draw however is of course the mighty Horseshoe and American Falls, which have been attracting visitors to the area for more than 100 years.

coverSpanning over the Canadian and American border, the formation of the falls began at the end of the Ice Age. Twelve thousand years ago, the water plunged over the edge of the Niagara Escarpment, which eventually wore away the rock layers, moving the Falls to its current location.

Niagara Falls’ residents were mostly comprised of Native Americans living around the region. In 1678, Father Louis Hennepin was the first European documented to visit the area. On his return trip from Niagara Falls to his home in France he published tales of his trip in a book that would bring world-wide attention to the region. After his book was published many were intrigued by the city and wanted to explore further, which began the discovery of Niagara Falls.

Once a rail system was created in the 1800s, Niagara Falls would see an increase of visitors that would turn the city into a tourist hot spot. In 1804, Napoleon Bonaparte’s younger brother and his wife honeymooned at the falls, which began the city’s reputation as being the “Honeymoon Capital of the World.”

The freezing and thawing of the Niagara River presently wears away at the rocks under the surface, which means the falls are always moving. Modern technologies have caused the falls to wear away at a slower pace which has been done to preserve the falls. The volume of water moving down the falls has been reduced by hydroelectric power, a technology that the city is very proud to harness.

Some More Quick Facts

  • There are three waterfalls categorized under “Niagara Falls” (Canadian Horseshoe, American, and Bridal Veil Falls)
  • The Canadian Falls is 167 feet tall with 600,000 gallons or 2,271,247 liters per second travelling through the Falls
  • The word ‘Niagara’ is derived from the Iroquois Indian word “Onguiaahra” meaning “the strait”
  • The flow was halted over both the Horseshoe and American Falls on March 30th 1848 due to an ice jam in the upper river
  • Part of the movie Superman II was filmed in Niagara Falls
  • 20% of the worlds freshwater lies in the Great Lakes and most flows over Niagara Falls