Thursday, December 13, 2012

N is for... Niagara Falls

At least twice each year, we make the drive from Maryland to southern Ontario to visit family, and one of the three border crossings to choose from is at Niagara Falls.  So we see it often.  Many times we just drive through and see the Falls from the bridge, but we've also visited in a touristy way a number of times.  I'm not sure about the kids, but I continue to be in awe of the beauty and power of these waterfalls.

We found a history lesson in America the Beautiful about Niagara Falls - it is one of the largest waterfalls in the world, with an average of 194,400 cubic feet of water flowing over the falls every second.  About 90 percent of that amount flows over the Canadian or Horseshoe Falls.  The water comes from four of the Great Lakes - Superior, Huron, Michigan, and Erie - via the Niagara River on its way to Lake Ontario.  Water from Niagara Falls provides drinking water, hydroelectric power, and industrial use water for about one million people in America and Canada. 

The first European known to describe the falls was Catholic priest Louis Hennepin, a missionary who traveled with the French explorer Rene Robert la Salle.  In 1745, the French built a fort on the American side of the falls.  In 1759, the British took control of the area.  There was quite a bit of fighting that took place around the Niagara Falls area during the War of 1812, when the town of Manchester, New York was captured by the British.  The town was returned to the USA after the war and renamed Niagara Falls, New York.  The town of Niagara Falls, Ontario was originally named Elgin and then Clifton.

Three bridges cross the Niagara River near the falls, and are important ports of entry between the USA and Canada.  One of the earlier bridges was a suspension bridge that had upper and lower decks.  The lower deck was for pedestrians and carriages, and the upper deck for trains.  Before the Civil War, many slaves escaped to Canada by crossing that suspension bridge.  

Niagara Falls has been a popular tourist and honeymoon destination since the 1800s, when a daughter of American Vice President Aaron Burr and her new husband honeymooned there.  It is believed that Napoleon Bonaparte's brother and his bride honeymooned there in 1804. Today, millions of people from all over the world visit Niagara Falls each year.

Luna Island separates fifty-foot wide Bridal Veil Falls from the American Falls, which is 850 feet wide. Starting in the 1840s, tourists could take a guided tour to the Cave of the Wind behind Bridal Veil Falls. After rock falls made the cave unsafe, tours stopped, and the cave was later destroyed by more rock falls and the use of dynamite to remove a dangerous overhang.  Tourists can still take the Cave of the Winds tour even though there is no longer a cave.  The tour includes a visit to the Hurricane Deck, where winds can be up to 68 mph.

Horseshoe Falls, or Canadian Falls, is 2,200 feet wide at the crest.  In 1818, a staircase was built to take tourists to the bottom of the Horseshoe Falls.  Over the years, elevators and tunnels have been added to this attraction, which is now called Journey Behind the Falls.  Since 1916, tourists have been able to ride the Whirlpool Aero Car above the whirlpool rapids.

In 1846 a steamboat named Maid of the Mist began ferry service across the Niagara River.  Today the Maid of the Mist tours are still in operation, taking visitors very close to the falls.  

Have you visited Niagara Falls? Leave a comment and let me know!

Please visit Ben and Me: N is for Nativity to join in and to see what thoughts this week's letter has prompted for other bloggers. 
Blogging Through the Alphabet
To find out more about the Blogging through the Alphabet link-up, and how to participate, visit Ben and Me: Blogging Through The Alphabet

This post was added to the Throwback Thursday Blog-Style link-up hosted by Tots and Me... Growing Up Together! on December 10, 2015.

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Jennifer said...

How absolutely beautiful and what a privilege to be close enough to enjoy it so often. My kids have been asking about this as their Uncle moved to Canada and shared that he saw it. I'm keeping the post open to read with them all that you shared. Thanks!

Stefanie said...

So beautiful. I love Niagra falls. I've been twice. But not since I've started using fancy cameras. I guess I need to go back. =o)

Tess said...

Loved the pictures! I've never seen Niagra Falls. I'd have to double check but I think the county I grew up in was named for the explorer you named.

Leah Courtney said...

I've only been once, but it is beautiful, and I'd love to go back and take my kids. Your pictures are great!

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