Spectacular Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls is one of the most spectacular and popular sights in North America. This charming and beautiful natural wonder attracts tourists from all over the world. Honeymooners and stuntmen also like this place.
Niagara means “roaring water”. Niagara Falls is located on the Niagara River, between Lakes Erie and Ontario. It actually consists of two waterfalls, the Horseshoe Falls and American Falls.
The Horseshoe Falls is on the Canadian side of the border in the province of Ontario. Its height is about 56 metres and length of its curving line is about 670 metres. About 90 per cent of the water flows over the Horseshoe Falls.
The American Falls is on the United States side in the state of New York. It is about 58 metres high and 320 metres wide.
At the falls, the Niagara River plunges into a steep deep gorge. The gorge extends beyond Niagara Falls for about 11 kilometres. It is about 61 metres deep and consists of layers of different kinds of stone. Through the years, the gorge has become longer and longer. The ledge of the Horseshoe Falls wears away at a rate varying from about 8 centimetres to as much as 2 metres a year. The ledge of the American Falls erodes more slowly because less water flows over it. Each year, about 2.5 centimetres wears away.
Niagara Falls was formed about 12,000 years ago, when the last great ice sheet melted from the region. Lake Erie was overflown with the melting ice and formed the Niagara River. The river ran over a high cliff called the Niagara Escarpment.
In the area lived Indian tribes long before the first Europeans arrived. Louis Hennepin, a Roman Catholic priest, was the first who wrote about Niagara Falls in a book published in 1683.
There are two bridges over Niagara Falls: Rainbow Bridge and Whirlpool Rapids Bridge.
Excellent views of the falls can be seen from the brink of the precipice, from one of the observation towers, or in a helicopter from above.
At night, wide beams of colored lights illuminate the falls.
No trip to Niagara Falls is complete without a visit under the falls. Thrilling and awesome, this close-up view of the falls is an unforgettable experience.
Many people have tried to conquer this majestic waterfall. In October 1829 Sam Patch jumped into the gorge below the falls and survived. Since then it has become a tradition for many brave men. On October 24, 1901, 63 year-old Annie Edson Taylor, a teacher from Michigan, was thrown into a waterfall in a barrel, she survived but injured.
There are a lot of films where we can see Niagara: Niagara (starred Marilyn Monroe and Joseph Cotton), Superman II (1980), Niagara: Miracles, Myths and Magic in IMAX, the film Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End and many others.
Spectacular Niagara Falls
Daredevils of Niagara
• Jean Francois Gravelet known as “The Great Blondin” was probably the first of the daredevils of Niagara Falls. He was a professional tightrope walker who came to America from France. On the 30th of June, 1859, he made his first tightrope walk. Everyone was amazed when he suddenly stopped and without hesitation made a back somersault. He crossed the Falls 21 times! Once he even carried his manager on his back. The trip lasted 42 minutes.
• Australian Henry Bellini came to Niagara Falls in 1973 and made his first tightrope walk across the river using a 457-metre-long rope. Then he jumped from his tightrope into a boat.
• On the 11th of July 1886, Graham Carlisle, a barrel maker from England, became the first person ever to go over the Falls in a wooden barrel. He survived. Soon after, he repeated the stunt, but was seriously injured. Graham Carlisle went over the Falls no less than 5 times!
• In 1892, Clifford Calverly pushed a wheelbarrow across a tightrope over the Falls.
• In 1901, Annie Taylor, a 63-year-old school woman to go over the Falls in a wooden barrel. When her trip was over, she said: “Nobody should ever do that again.” Annie wanted to be rich and famous, but she died forgotten and poor.
• Bobby Leach, from England, was a circus stuntman. Bobby became the first man to go over the Falls in a steel barrel. He succeeded but broke both his knees and his jaw and had to spend six months in hospital.
• On the 27th of September, 1989, Peter DeBernardi and Geoffrey Petkovich became the first people who made a “team” trip over the Falls. They survived and were fined.
• On the third of July, 1984, Karel Coucek became the first Canadian to go over the Falls. His fall took just 3.2 seconds, but his steel barrel was caught up in the currents at the base of the Falls for 45 minutes. Luckily, he had enough oxygen and survived.
• On the third of October, 2003, Kirk Jones became the first person to go over the Falls in nothing but the clothes he was wearing! Kirk Jones had a few bruises but his bank account was more seriously injured – he was fined 2,300 dollars! Kirk said that it was a failed suicide attempt, but his family said he was seeking fame and fortune. His friend hadn’t learned how to operate the video camera, so his stunt wasn’t caught on film.