Niagara Falls is actually a group of three waterfalls that sit across the border of Ontario, Canada and New York, USA.
These three waterfalls are the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls, which lie on the American side of the border, and the Horseshoe Falls which lie mostly on the Canadian side.
The word “Niagara” was derived from Iroquois Indian word “Onguiaahra” meaning “the strait”.
The total height of the combined waterfall is 167 feet or 51 meters, with an average flow rate is 85,000 cubic feet per second.
Ice Age History of Niagara Falls
The history of the Niagara River and Whirlpool Rapids is summarized on the website Niagara Falls Live:
The Niagara River … is a legacy of the last Ice Age. 18,000 years ago southern Ontario was covered by ice sheets 2-3 kilometers thick. As they advanced southward the ice sheets gouged out the basins of the Great Lakes. Then as they melted northward for the last time they released vast quantities of meltwater into these basins.
About 5,500 years ago the meltwaters were once again routed through southern Ontario, restoring the river and Falls to their full power. Then the Falls reached the Whirlpool.
It was a brief and violent encounter, a geological moment lasting only weeks, maybe even only days. … When it was all over it left behind a 90-degree turn in the river we know today as the Whirlpool, and North America’s largest series of standing waves we know today as the Whirlpool Rapids.
The Falls then re-established at about the area of the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge upriver to our right, and resumed carving its way through solid rock to its present location.
Straddling the Canadian-United States International Border and both in the Province of Ontario and the State of New York, Niagara Falls attracts some 12 Million tourists to her majestic awesome beauty each year.
The Niagara is a fairly young river, only 12,000 years old!, …
One fifth of all the fresh water in the world lies in the four Upper Great Lakes-Michigan, Huron,Superior and Erie. All the outflow empties into the Niagara river and eventually cascades over the falls.
Approximately 500 years ago the river encountered an obstacle that caused it to ‘split into two channels’, thus Goat Island was formed …
On the eastern part of the island, the American Falls took shape, the Horseshoe Falls, is on the western side, where the river angles some 90 degrees. The water flow on the American side of the falls is much less in strength because of Goat Island, whereas Horseshoe Falls has no obstruction to divert it. It should be noted that a third much narrower falls exists. … currently named Bridal Veil Falls.
5 Things to do when you visit Niagara Falls
- Hop on the Maid of the Mist boat that will bring you to the base of the falls.
- Head down to Clifton Hill and take a ride on the Clifton Hill SkyWheel, Canada’s largest observation wheel.
- Take a ride on Niagara Helicopters and be thrilled.
- Go to Skylon Tower and observe the falls from 233 meters.
- Journey Behind the Falls to get a peek of the magnificent falls while standing directly behind the roaring water.
What separates Niagara from other waterfalls is its combination of height and volume that makes Niagara Falls so beautiful and awe-inspiring.