Niagara Falls, WOW! Part 1...
Sep 10, 2007
|We woke this morning to clear skies & a 70 degree temperature. Yippee. We intended to look around a bit on the U.S. side of the Falls & take a tour tomorrow. But when we arrived in town we changed our plans. That old saying "a bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush" got us. Why not go today while the weather is so nice, rather than risk waiting for tomorrow, especially when rain is predicted? Easy decision. So, Niagara Falls, here we come!
Niagara Falls is comprised of two major sections, separated by Goat Island.
Horseshoe Falls is located on the Canadian side of the border and American Falls on the United States side. The smaller Bridal Veil Falls is also located on the American side, separated from the main falls by Luna Island.
The Horseshoe Falls drop about 173 feet. The American Falls drop about 70 feet before reaching a jumble of fallen rocks that were deposited by a massive rock slide in 1954. The larger Horseshoe Falls are about 2,600 feet wide, while the American Falls are 1,060 feet wide. The volume of water approaching the falls during peak flow season is 202,000 cubic feet per second & falls at an accelerating rate of 32 feet per second. Since the flow is a direct function of the Lake Erie water elevation, it typically peaks in late spring or early summer. And did you know that 20% of the fresh water in the U.S. goes over the Falls? We had no idea...
The Falls are renowned both for their beauty and as a valuable source of hydroelectric power. During the summer months, 100,000 cubic feet per second of water actually traverses the Falls, some 90% of which goes over the Horseshoe Falls, while the balance is diverted to hydroelectric facilities.
This is accomplished by employing a weir with movable gates upstream from the Horseshoe Falls. Flow is further halved at night, and during the low tourist season in the winter, remains a flat 50,000 cubic feet per second.
Currently between 50% and 75% of the Niagara River's flow is diverted via four huge tunnels that arise far upstream from the waterfalls. The water then passes through hydroelectric turbines that supply power to nearby areas of the Canada and the USA before returning to the river, well past the Falls.
The oldest and best known tourist attraction at Niagara Falls is the Maid of the Mist boat cruise. This world-famous scenic tour has carried passengers into the whirlpools beneath the Falls since 1846. And what a ride it is. This spectacular ride will live in MY memory for a lifetime!
From the U.S. side, the American Falls can also be viewed from walkways along Prospect Point Park, (which features the 230-foot Prospect Point Observation Tower and the boat dock for the Maid of the Mist). Goat Island offered more views of the falls and is accessible by foot and automobile traffic by bridge above the American Falls.
From Goat Island, the Cave of the Winds is accessible by a 175 ft. elevator ride and leads hikers across catwalks to the famous Hurricane Deck beneath Bridal Veil Falls. The rainsuits you will see aren't optional. We were surrounded by the thundering power of water cascading down from hundreds of feet above. The provided waterproof sandals & rain gear were a must! We were given the option to keep both at the end of our hike. And, we did. The sandals are actually quite comfortable. Most of these attractions lie within the beautiful Niagara Falls State Park, the oldest state park in the USA. We didn't take the time today but plan to come another day to explore this beautiful park. I think we will bring a picnic lunch.
Niagara Falls is renowned for daredevil exploits. Over the past 100 years, 15 people have gone over the falls for fame or fortune in or on a device like a barrel, kayak or ski jet. Scorecard: 10 survived, 5 died. In 1960, a seven year old boy accidentally went over the falls. Happily, he lived.
And finally, Niagara Falls is famous as a honeymoon destination for amorous Americans and canoodling Canadians. For more than 200 years, Niagara Falls has drawn couples from all over the world who get married or honeymoon here. One can certainly understand why. We fell in love with its awesome beauty & power!
Wednesday's weather is predicted to be sunny & warm so Larry & I plan to walk across the Rainbow Bridge to the Canadian side for more photo opportunities. I believe we are going late in the day as we plan to also enjoy the nightly illumination. A totally different perspective, I'm sure. I can't wait to go see & feel this thundering beauty again!
P.S. As usual I have taken way too many pics for one post. So, I am going to split them up into 3 seperate parts. Hope you enjoy!