Before you visit Niagara Falls, learn some Niagara Falls facts that are interesting, quirky, and informative.
Niagara Falls has a fascinating history and heritage that will enthrall visitors.
Niagara Falls Facts #1: Where Is Niagara Falls Located?
Niagara Falls is a spectacular waterfall located on the Niagara River. The Niagara River flows north from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. Niagara Falls is located on the US-Canadian border between the Canadian province of Ontario and the US state of New York.
Niagara Falls Facts #2: Niagara Falls Can Be Seen From Two Countries
Niagara Falls is located across the US-Canada international border. Visitors can see it from USA and Canada from the cities of Niagara Falls located on either side of the border.
Tourists can even cross over to the other side, see the Falls and other attractions and then cross back. Valid visa, passports or other travel documents will be necessary to cross the border.
Niagara Falls Facts #3: The Cities Of Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls stretches across the US-Canadian border. The towns on either side of the border in which Niagara Falls is located are also called Niagara Falls. Tourists have to visit the namesake cities, Niagara Falls, ON or Niagara Falls, NY to view Niagara Falls (the waterfall).
These towns offer many attractions to keep visitors engaged and stay longer.
Casinos, theatres, waterparks, shopping, and boat rides are just some of the tourist attractions in Niagara Falls.
The neighbouring wine regions on either side of the border are also huge attractions.
Niagara Falls Facts #4: Niagara Falls’ 3 Waterfalls
Niagara Falls is actually a collection of three waterfalls – American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and Horseshoe Falls.
American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and a small portion of Horseshoe Falls are located in the United States. Horseshoe Falls is located almost entirely in Canada. It is the largest of the three waterfalls. Horseshoe Falls gets its name because of its horseshoe shape.
Luna Island separates American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. American Falls and Horseshoe Falls are separated by Goat Island.
Niagara Falls Facts #5: Did You Know That Viewing Niagara Falls Is Free?
Whether you see Niagara Falls from the US side or the Canadian side, it is completely FREE! Entry to Niagara Falls State Park on the US side from where Niagara Falls can be viewed is free. On the Canadian side, it can be viewed for free from various vantage points along Niagara Parkway.
Niagara Falls Facts #6: Niagara Falls Is Open Throughout The Year
Niagara Falls is open for viewing 24 hours a day throughout the year. Niagara Falls State Park on the US side remains open every day of the year. Even on the coldest day of winter, visitors can view Niagara Falls.
Niagara Falls Facts #7: Age Of Niagara Falls
At an estimated age of 12,000 years, Niagara Falls is young as far as waterfalls go. It was formed by erosion as glaciers receded at the end of the Ice Age.
Niagara Falls Facts #8: Niagara Falls Is Not The Only Natural Formation On Niagara River
Though Niagara Falls is the most popular natural formation on the Niagara River, it has other equally breathtaking natural formations.
The Upper Niagara Rapids are located on the Upper Niagara River, just before the river plunges into Niagara Gorge. Downstream from Niagara Falls, one can find the Whirlpool Rapids, Niagara Whirlpool and Devil’s Hole Rapids.
Niagara Falls Facts #9: Formation of Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls is thought to have started forming about 12,000 years ago at the end of the Ice Age. Torrents of water from the receding glaciers formed the Niagara River which plunged over Niagara Escarpment at what is now known as Lewiston.
The immense force of the river’s waters tore through the rock layers creating the Niagara Gorge and movement of Niagara Falls further upstream.
Niagara Falls Facts #10: The Iconic Maid Of The Mist Boat Ride
Until the construction of the first bridge across the lower Niagara River, the only means of transportation between the two shores of Niagara River was by boat.
Before 1846, rowboats ferried passengers across the Niagara River. In 1846, a steamboat called Maid of the Mist made its maiden voyage across the Niagara River below Niagara Falls.
The Maid of the Mist steamboat ferried people, mail, cargo and luggage. It was large enough to carry a stagecoach and horses.
In 1848, construction of a suspension bridge across the lower Niagara River dented business and the Maid of the Mist was converted into a sightseeing boat that operates to this day.
There is a boat ride similar to the Maid of the Mist on the Canadian side called Hornblower Niagara Cruise.
Passengers on these boat rides get to see Niagara Falls from a very close range.
Niagara Falls Facts #11: Niagara Falls and Hydroelectric Power
Niagara Falls is a great source of hydroelectric power. The Niagara Power Generating Stations produce one-fourth of the power required for Ontario and New York State.
Sir Adam Beck Power Generating Stations on the Canadian side and the Robert Moses Hydroelectric Power Plant on the US side near Lewiston, NY are located on either side of the Niagara River.
They are built directly opposite each other. Their electrical grid systems are connected to each other by high voltage transmission lines.
Water from Niagara River is diverted above Niagara Falls through underground tunnels to the power plants. Water flow to Niagara Falls is controlled by water diversion to the hydroelectric power plants.
Niagara Falls Facts #12: What Was The Original Position of Niagara Falls?
About 12,000 years ago, Niagara Falls was located between present-day Queenston, Ontario and Lewiston, New York.
From there, the Falls have retreated upstream due to erosion.
Niagara Falls Facts #13: How Far Has Niagara Falls Moved?
Niagara Falls has moved back 7 miles (roughly 11 km) over 12,000 years, making it one of the fastest moving waterfalls in the world.
The Falls has retreated from Lake Ontario towards Lake Erie at a rate of 5 feet per year in the last 200 years. Erosion has reduced in the last 70 years. Due to remedial efforts, the current rate of erosion has reduced to about 1 foot per year.
Niagara Falls Facts #14: The Daredevils Of Niagara Falls
People from all walks of life were fascinated by the sheer power and volume of water flowing over Niagara Falls. It attracted many who performed stunts on or near the Niagara Falls in hopes of attaining fame and fortune. Some were successful, others were not, and there were a few deaths.
These daredevils performed stunts that captivated the public and earned them a place forever in Niagara Falls’ history.
The first person to go over Niagara Falls was a woman. Annie Edson Taylor, an American teacher, survived a fall over the Falls in a wooden barrel on October 24, 1901. She hoped to make some money from the fame, but was unable to.
Many others followed Annie Edson Taylor – Bobby Leach (July 25, 1911), Charles G. Stephens in 1920 (died in the attempt), Jean Lussier in 1928, George L. Statakis in 1930 (died), Nathan Boya in 1961, Karl Soucek in 1984 and others.
There were others who performed tightrope acts across the Niagara River. The Great Blondin, The Great Farini, Maria Spelterina (1876), Steve Peere, Samuel J. Dixon and Henry Ballini are a few tightrope walkers who dazzled the residents of Niagara Falls with their feats.
Nik Wallenda of the famous “Flying Wallendas” was the last person to tightrope walk over the Horseshoe Falls on June 15, 2012. The 1800-feet journey took 25 minutes.
Niagara Falls Facts #15: Niagara Falls State Park
On the US side, Niagara Falls is located in Niagara Falls State Park, the oldest state park in USA. The park was created in 1885 to preserve the natural surroundings of Niagara Falls and to give people a chance to enjoy the beauty of the region.
It is spread across 400 acres, with nearly 140 acres under water (the Niagara River).
Niagara Falls State Park was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead. He also designed the famous Central Park in New York City.
Niagara Falls State Park is the only place on the US side from where Niagara Falls can be viewed.
The park has many attractions for tourists – Maid of the Mist boat rides, Goat Island, Cave of the Winds, Niagara Falls Observation Tower, Niagara Scenic Trolley, and more!
The Upper Niagara Rapids are located in the park.
The park has many islands – Goat Island, Luna Island, and Three Sisters Islands are a few.
Niagara Falls Facts #16: The Historic Underground Railroad
The Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes and safehouses throughout the United States that were used by slaves to flee into free states and Canada. The Niagara River was an important crossing point on this route. Crossing the river meant stepping into Canada and freedom.
There are tours that show the routes and some of the safehouses used.
Niagara Falls Facts #17: Incredible Volume Of Water Flowing Over Niagara Falls
What makes Niagara Falls unique is the amount of water that flows over the Falls per minute.
There are 500 waterfalls that are taller than Niagara Falls, but its shape and volume make Niagara Falls look spectacular.
About 150,000 US gallons of water flow per second over American and Bridal Veil Falls. The largest volume of water flows over Horseshoe Falls, about 600,000 US gallons per second.
Niagara Falls Facts #18: Niagara Falls Does Not Freeze
Despite reports of a frozen Niagara Falls during harsh winters, the waterfall has never completely frozen.
Niagara Falls appears frozen sometimes with ice and snow formation, but there is always some water flowing beneath the ice that is not visible.
On March 29, 1848, flow of water to Niagara Falls was reduced to a trickle because of an ice jam upstream in the Niagara River.
Niagara Falls Facts #19: Historic Sites in Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls has a historic past. Many battles during the historic War of 1812 were fought in or near Niagara Falls. Some of these battlegrounds have been preserved as heritage sites.
There are other historical buildings and sites that must be visited if you have time.
Queenston Heights Park, Chippawa Battlefield Park, Lundy’s Lane Battlefield, Fort George National Historic Site, and McFarland House are some of the historic sites in Niagara Falls, Canada.
Niagara Falls Facts #20: Niagara River Is Actually A Strait
A river is a natural flowing freshwater body that flows into another river, lake, sea or an ocean. A strait is a naturally formed narrow navigable waterway that connects two larger bodies of water.
Niagara River is a strait as it flows between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.
Exploring Niagara Region With A Niagara Falls Trip
Niagara Falls has a lot to offer visitors, whether you visit the American side or the Canadian side.
The view on the Canadian side is much better.
A visit to Niagara Falls, Canada is a must if you are a history buff and love visiting historic and heritage sites.
See some of the best sights of Niagara Falls Canada with fully-guided Niagara tours.