I'd been to the Niagara Falls as a young child with my family. To be honest, I don't remember much from that trip, other than that my dad accidentally slammed his car door shut when I had my finger in the way. Sad that of a trip that included Niagara Falls, a boat ride (judging from the photos), and a trip to Montreal, all I remember is that one incident, and Dad's horrified reaction to the pain he'd accidentally caused. I'd wanted to bring my sons to see Niagara Falls for a couple years and to see the falls again for myself (maybe this time I'll remember them), but last year's concerns about the U.S. Government's furlough (which did occur in October 2013) caused us to postpone our Canadian vacation plans until this past summer.
|The view from the viewing platform of Journey Behind the Falls.|
|Photos can't capture the size of these Class 6 rapids.|
|Our view during lunch.|
Niagara Falls were formed when glaciers receded at the end of the Wisconsin glaciation (the last ice age), and water from the newly formed Great Lakes carved a path through the Niagara Escarpment en route to the Atlantic Ocean. While not exceptionally high, the Niagara Falls are very wide. More than six million cubic feet of water falls over the crest line every minute in high flow.
The striking green color of the water flowing over the Niagara Falls is a byproduct of the estimated 60 tons/minute of dissolved salts and "rock flour" (very finely ground rock) generated by the erosive force of the river itself. The current rate of erosion is approximately 1 foot per year, down from a historical average of 3 feet per year -- reduced because of all the water diverted to power the hydroelectric plans on both sides of the river. It is estimated that 50,000 years from now, even at this reduced rate of erosion, the remaining 20 miles to Lake Erie will have been undermined and the Falls will cease to exist.
There are differing theories as to the origin of the name of the falls. According to Iroquoian scholar Bruce Trigger, "Niagara" is derived from the name given to a branch of the locally residing native Neutral Confederacy, who are described as being called the "Niagagarega" people on several late 17th century French maps of the area.
Know before you go: Purchase the Adventure Pass (for the Canadian side). You'll end up saving money on admission to all the various venues. However, you could easily skip the Niagara's Fury, which, although it explained briefly how the falls were created, didn't add all that much to the itinerary, and seemed to be just an additional excuse to herd tourists into lines, give us ponchos, and get us wet, again (yes, it rains inside the auditorium).