Robin's Website

Niagara Falls

The Niagara Falls are in eastern North America, on the border between the United States and Canada. The name refers to three waterfalls on the Niagara River; the Horseshoe Falls (sometimes called the Canadian Falls and the largest of the three), the American Falls, and the smaller Bridal Veil Falls. The American Falls and the Horseshoe Falls are separated by Goat Island which is part of, and can be accessed from, the American side. The Bridal Veil Falls are separated from the other waterfalls by Luna Island.

The waterfalls were formed when glaciers receded at the end of the last ice age and water from the newly formed Great Lakes carved a path through the Niagara Escarpment on their way  to the Atlantic Ocean. Relative to other famous waterfalls in the world, they are not particularly high, although what they lack for in what respect is made up for not only in their accessibility, but also their width.

The first description of the falls by a European came from Father Hennepin, who arrived here in 1678. Ever since his time, the numbers of people coming here has grown. From a historical perspective, the French were the first Europeans in the area when they made Niagara part of a vast fur-trading empire. The French were then ousted by the British, whom ended up locked in a struggle with the early United States. Both sides settled down on separate sides of the river, which formed a natural barrier and the advent of railways and steamboats soon established the site as a tourist site. In the 1890's, the task of clearing the land both sides to make it a suitable place for visitors began under the Niagara Parks Commission on the Canadian side and the Niagara Frontier State Park Commission in New York on the American side.

The parks in the Niagara area today are not just about the falls - there are heritage sites including forts and battlefields and the seven mile long Niagara Gorge which includes two hydroelectric power stations. The resorts are popular with honeymooners, foreign dignitaries, film stars and the tourist masses alike. It has to be said, many visitors who come here are disappointed not by the natural wonder, but by the impact of commercialism. Towers loom in the background, far from blending in, including the Skylon, The Casino Tower, The Minolta Tower (now the Tower Hotel) and the Gorge Observation Tower. Across the gorge runs the Rainbow Bridge which connects the city of Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada, with Niagara Falls, New York, USA. A popular way to view the falls from on the river, which is approximately 190 feet deep below the falls, is to take the Maid of the Mist boat tour which takes passengers past the American and Bridal Veil Falls and then into the dense mist of spray inside the curve of the Horseshoe Falls. Another viewing option is to take a helicopter ride here. Furthermore, some people come here to see the falls in winter, when the river ices. Not recommended is tightrope walking or taking a barrel over the falls - for a rundown on daredevil activities, see Wikipedia Here.

Back to Top