A destination that is on almost every tourist’s wish list, Niagara Falls is visited by millions every year and you might be one of them. While it is one of the most stunning natural wonders in the world, not many are aware of the geological history and other facts related to the waterfalls. Let’s get a little more familiar with the falls.
Three beautiful waterfalls
It’s not just one waterfall but three of them that combine to make the spectacular Niagara Falls. Horseshoe Falls is the biggest of the three and flows along the international border line between Canada and the US. As a result, two-thirds of it is in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada and the remaining one-third in Niagara Falls, New York, USA. The two other waterfalls that form the Niagara Falls are the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls, both of which lie in New York, USA close to the Horseshoe Falls.
Height and Width of the Falls
With a width of about 2600 feet, the crescent shaped Horseshoe Falls is very wide in comparison to the American Falls that is 1,060 feet wide. Bridal Veil Falls is the smallest of the three waterfalls and has a width of about 55 feet. The height of the Horseshoe Falls is around 188 feet from top to bottom while American Falls is shorter, ranging from 70 to 110 feet due to boulders below. Bridal Veil waterfalls has a height that is almost as much as the Horseshoe Falls with a total drop of about 181 feet.
Around 10,000 years ago, the end of the Wisconsin Glaciation led to the formation of the Great Lakes, the Niagara River and the Niagara Falls. Due to the glaciation, a continental ice sheet travelled through the area. The glaciers melted with time and receded, and the water coursed along the Niagara Escarpment resulting in these natural formations. Erosion over several years on the cliffside, rocks and the ground by the Niagara River and the waterfalls also led to the creation of the Niagara Gorge.
Do the Falls Freeze?
Even at the peak of winter, the waters of the falls keep flowing even though it may look frozen from the outside. Way back in 1932 and even as recently as 2014-15, the region had a long and cold winter but the water still continued to flow. Giant icicles form on the falls and ice sheets are formed on the river but ice booms made of steel (ice cutters) on the river keep the water from jamming up.
• Around 100,000 cubic feet of water tumbles every second over the crest of the falls, mostly the Horseshoe Falls, during summer.
• The Niagara Falls is also a major source of hydroelectric power.
• Several daredevils have attempted various stunts over the falls including 63 year old teacher Annie Edson Taylor who, in 1901, went over the falls in a barrel and survived!