Thunder Wall

Niagara Falls State Park, the oldest state park in the United States, opened on this day in 1885.  Niagara Falls spans the Niagara River and is shared by Canada and the United States.  It is made up of three separate falls: the American and Bridal Veil Falls on the US side, and the much larger Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side.

Water from four of the five Great Lakes (Superior, Michigan, Huron and Erie), rumbles down the Niagara River toward a spectacular 170+ foot plunge to Lake Ontario.  A pounding 3,160 tons of water pours over Niagara Falls every second.

Fred@Niagara Falls, Ontario Canada-1969
Horseshoe Falls, Ontario Canada (1969)

The sheer force and majesty of these falls is truly magnificent.  I’ve had the chance (twice!) to take a tour behind the falls.  Dressed in black slickers my family and I rode the elevator down deep into the bedrock of Horseshoe Falls.  Shuffling like penguins through the dim, misty tunnel we made our way to a large opening carved into the rock where a wall of water thundered over us.  It was chilling, thrilling, and oh so worth the trip!  On the left is a picture of my dad, with Horseshoe Falls roaring behind him.

Unfortunately, the falls have also attracted a wide variety of crackpots and daredevils.  People have gone over in barrels, rubber balls, a kayak (without a helmet or life vest!), and a jet ski (I’m serious!) Few have lived, many have died.  The most remarkable story is of 7-year-old Roger Woodward, who went over the falls as a result of a boating accident on July 9, 1960.  Wearing only a swimsuit and a life jacket, he was plucked alive from the bottom of the falls by the Maid of the Mist crew.  Click on this link to read the full story: Niagara_Falls_Miracle

Fun Frozen Fact:  On March 29, 1848, an ice jam occurred on Lake Erie near the mouth of the Niagara River.  This natural dam caused the water flow to drop to a trickle.  Many locals took the opportunity to explore the riverbed and some found artifacts from the War of 1812.

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