Have you ever heard of the falls freezing? Well it may be hard to believe when you look at the power of the waters at the falls, but in 1848 Niagara Falls was reduced to a trickle for 30-40 hours because of an ice jam at the mouth of Lake Erie.
The riverbed at the base of the falls was drying quickly so people ventured out into it and found artifacts such as bayonets, muskets and tomahawks from the War of 1812. Workers from the Maid of the Mist also took advantage of the situation and blew out rocks which were usually hazardous to their voyage. Scientists believe the ice jam was caused by winds blowing so strongly up the lake that the water at the mouth of the Niagara River froze. It was not unusually cold that day. Can you imagine seeing Niagara Falls frozen? They say a huge crack was heard as the ice gave way and the falls returned to their normal fury. Frozen Niagara Falls would have been amazing to see and is definitely one of the most interesting facts on Niagara Falls.
In 1953 the Horseshoe Falls was stopped by building a series of dams to allow for remedial work to be done on the falls. And in 1969 engineers built dams to reduce the water flowing over the American Falls. This was done to study the rock formations to see whether it was possible to remove the talus or rock at the base of the American Falls. They decided they would let mother nature have her way and leave the talus alone.
Many people ask if the falls can be turned off? The falls cannot be turned off. Those three times mentioned above are the only times where the falls have been stopped. The water can be turned down though.
Did you know there used to be more ways to view the falls? That’s right. Today you can view the falls many cool ways, like the Journey Behind the Falls.
The Journey Behind the Falls was built in 1888 and opened for business in 1899 and for many years was known as “Behind the Sheet” or the “Scenic Tunnel”. At that time you could pay to climb down a spiral staircase and have a tour through the tunnel with guides and lanterns. You could also pay for a certificate when you came back up to announce the feat you just performed. The elevator shaft was blasted in 1903 and in 1925 was expanded to two elevators. The Journey Behind the Falls tunnels that are there today were blasted in 1944.
Terrapin Tower was also another way to view the falls. Looking back at pictures Terrapin Tower can be seen near Goat Island along the crest line of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. It was a 45 foot (14m) observation tower with a deck at the end of the pier.
At the top of the tower there was a small balcony that visitors reported as a majestic viewing platform of the falls and the gorge below. It stood for 50 years from 1833-1873 and was then blown up. By all accounts I have read the Terripin Tower was described as a rude structure put together by stones found in the area. In 1955, the area where the Terrapin Tower once stood was filled to create an artificial viewing area of the falls. Today you can view the Horseshoe Falls from this point. Not that I would ever have had the courage to climb the Terrapin Tower but I do find it and others interesting facts on Niagara Falls.
Another really interesting fact about Niagara Falls is that the Maid of the Mist sailed down the Niagara River through the Whirlpool.maid of the mist In June of 1861 he Maid of the Mist was not doing well financially so they accepted a bribe of $50.00 to sail the boat down the Niagara River through the whirlpool. They actually did it and although it seemed at times that the rapids would win, the Maid of the Mist came out victorious and holds the record for the only boat to make it down the river. That was quite a feat for $50.00 but I guess $50.00 was a lot of money back in 1861. I know it adds to the interesting facts on Niagara Falls, but really taking a boat through the whirlpool, crazy!
Interesting facts on Niagara Falls are plentiful but I think one of the most talked about happened on June 9, 1960 when seven year-old Roger Woodward went over the Horseshoe Falls with only a life jacket on and lived. He was boating with his fathers’ friend, Jim Honeycutt and his seventeen year-old sister, Deanna. They took the boat past the Hydro dam which is considered the point of no return for small boats. When they were about a half a mile from the brink they realized they were in trouble and tried to drive the boat to Goat Island. The boat overturned and Roger and James went over the falls while Deanna was able to swim to Goat Island and was heroically pulled to shore by on lookers. Roger was actually rescued at the base of Niagara Falls by the Maid of the Mist crew but James was found four days later down river. Roger Woodward goes down in history to be the first person to survive a trip over Niagara Falls only wearing a life jacket. Those kids, Roger and Deanna were two miraculous interesting facts on Niagara Falls.
No one can hold back the power of Niagara Falls. She holds her own and will do whatever she pleases, whenever she pleases. I guess that is why there are so many interesting facts on Niagara Falls. Although people may try, they can never guess what she will do next.