Amazing Places: Niagara Falls
The Niagara falls are along the border between the Canadian province of Ontario and the U.S. state of New York.
It is categorized by three names: (a) American Falls (between Prospect Point and Luna Island) far left , (b) Bridal Veil Falls (between Luna Island and Goat Island) mid left
and (c) Canadian/Horseshoe Falls (between Goat Island and Table Rock) right.
The word "Niagara" is derived from the Iroquois Indian word "Onguiaahra" meaning "the strait"
Twenty percent of the worlds freshwater lies in the Great Lakes, and most flows over Niagara Falls.
It's flow on March 30th 1848 due to an ice jam in the upper river.
The first person to go over the Falls in a barrel and survive was a 63 year old female schoolteacher.
The Niagara river is approximately 12,000 years old.
18,000 years ago southern Ontario (Canadian Province) was covered by ice sheets 2-3 kilometers thick. The ice melted northward for the last time releasing vast quantities of melt water into these basins.
The Niagara Peninsula became free of the ice about 12,500 years ago. As the ice retreated northward, its meltwaters began to flow down through what became Lake Erie, the Niagara River and Lake Ontario, down to the St. Lawrence River, and, finally, down to the sea. There were originally 5 spillways from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. Eventually these were reduced to one, the original Niagara Falls, at Queenston-Lewiston. From here the Falls began its steady erosion through the bedrock.
However, about 10,500 years ago, through an interplay of geological effects including alternating retreats and re-advances of the ice, and rebounding of the land when released from the intense pressure of the ice (isostatic rebound), this process was interrupted. The glacial meltwaters were rerouted through northern Ontario, bypassing the southern route. For the next 5,000 years Lake Erie remained only half the size of today, the Niagara River was reduced to about 10% of its current flow, and a much-reduced Falls stalled in the area of the Niagara Glen.
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.
The Horseshoe Falls drop about 173 feet (53 m), the height of the American Falls varies between 70-100 feet (21 m) because of the presence of giant boulders at its base. The larger Horseshoe Falls are about 2,600 feet (792 m) wide, while the American Falls are 1,060 feet (323 m) wide.
Man has not been able to completely control the flow of the water over the falls, even modern engineers have tried. Much of the water today is fed through underground channels and pipes to nearby hydro electric power stations.
If the Winter is cold for long enough, the ice will completely stretch across the river and form what is known as the "ice bridge". This ice bridge can extend for several miles down river until it reaches the area known as the lower rapids. Until 1912,visitors were allowed to actually walk out on the ice bridge and view the Falls from below.
February 24th of 1888 the local newspaper reported that at least 20,000 people watched or tobogganed on the ice. On February 4th 1912 the ice bridge broke up and three tourists lives were lost.
Being the most powerful waterfall in North America, they are very wide. More than six million cubic feet (168,000 m³) of water falls over the crest line every minute in high flow and almost 4 million cubic feet (110,000 m³) on average.
Most complete views of Niagara Falls are available from the Canadian side of the river.
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