Niagara Falls, NY

NEWS ALERT: Niagara Falls are Running out of Water

Stuart Gustafson

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(photo courtesy of WikiCommons)

I know it’s shocking, but the Niagara Falls are running out of water, and will soon be dry. It’s kind of like that song, Running on Empty, except this title will now be No More Water Over the Falls. For those of us who love to travel, this is a shame.

Read more of my articles at www.newsbreak.com/publishers/@561306.

You think I’m kidding, don’t you? I typically don’t kid when I’m talking about travel, given that I’ve had the U.S. Registered Trademark America’s International Travel Expert® for over ten years. Readers and travelers rely on me for my travel information, the helpful hints, and quite useful how-to guides.

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(Photo by By ErwinMeier)

To see the expanse of the entire Niagara Falls, you really need to go into the Skylon Tower on the Canadian side. The picture above is the view that you get of the falls when you are over 450 feet above the ground.

To understand the water flow, look at the upper part of the photo; in the background is Lake Erie, the smallest of the five Great Lakes. This photo is looking North to South, and the water is flowing from Lake Erie, into the Niagara River, over the Falls, back into the Niagara River, and eventually feeding into Lake Ontario, the farthest east of the Great Lakes. The bridge at the left side of the photo is Rainbow Bridge. The arch bridge was erected near the site of the Honeymoon Bridge, which had collapsed in 1938 because of an ice jam in the river.

The American Falls

What are called Niagara Falls are actually three separate waterfalls, two on the American side of the international border, and one on that lies along the border between the U.S. and Canada.

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(Photo by the author)

The “American Falls” are actually two waterfalls; the larger is called American Falls, and the smaller one is Bridal Veil Falls. The jagged edge of American Falls was caused by several collapses of rock formations along the edge. From edge to edge, the American Falls are about 830 feet wide, and the water is about two feet deep at the point at which it crests over the rocks.

Between American Falls and Bridal Veil falls is a small strip of land called Luna Island (see the arrow above). While there is no documentation to bear it out, the name Luna Island supposedly came from the ability to see lunar rainbows in the mist on a full moon. That sounds sketchy to me, but “that’s what they say.”

Luna Island is about 130 feet wide between the two falls, and visitors are able to come within a few feet of the falls. There are no reported incidents of people falling over or intentionally jumping over the barrier fences.

On the opposite of Luna Island from American Falls are the Bridal Veil Falls, the third and smallest of the Niagara Falls. These falls are about 60 feet wide, and are just to the right of the blue arrow in the photo above.

Goat Island

Goat Island is an island in the middle of the Niagara River that separates the Canadian Horseshoe Falls from the American Bridal Veil Falls. It got its name in the late 18th century when John Stedman had kept a herd of goats on the island. He left them there over the winter, and when he returned in the spring, all but one of the goats was dead. So he named the island “Goat Island.”

Tourists can visit Goat Island as well as Luna Island for different views of the Falls other than the main observation points on both sides of the international border. Another reason more people may travel to the area and visit Goat Island is because it has a statue to Nikola Tesla, most famous for his contributions to the Alternating Current method of electricity. With the increasing popularity in the Tesla brand of automobiles, more owners are likely to travel to the island to have a picture taken near the monument.

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(photo by Wikipedia User:Thomaswm)

Horseshoe Falls

Certainly the most spectacular of the Niagara Falls are the Horseshoe Falls that straddle the U.S.-Canada border. Not counting the amount of water that is diverted upstream from the Niagara River for hydroelectric purposes, about 90% of the remaining water goes over the Horseshoe Falls. The almost perfectly circular arc-shaped falls are 170 feet high, and are subject to continued erosion due to the intense flow of water.

More than a dozen people have intentionally “gone over” the Horseshoe Falls as either daredevil stunts or just “because it’s there.” Most have survived, although it is against the law. A few have gone over the falls more than once, and several have lost their life doing it; more than one body has never been found.

Visiting Horseshoe Falls in the winter is a beautiful sight. While the water is still flowing over the falls, much of the water has become frozen and colored lights create beautiful ice-scapes.

What About Drying It Up?

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(photo courtesy of WikiCommons)

There’s not much danger of Niagara Falls actually drying up and running out of water. The photograph above was taken in 1969 as part of an effort to clear away much of the rock that had broken away and lay at the bottom of the gorge. Clearing away some of the rock, especially under American Falls, allowed the water to flow over the edge and directly back into the Niagara River. The engineering project was more of an aesthetics activity than one needed for the proper flow of the water downstream. It was also done to determine the structural integrity of the American Falls while the water in the river was diverted to the Canadian side. As the water flow came to a halt, engineers were shocked to find several dead bodies in the rocks, including one woman who was lodged headfirst between some of the rock.

Will They Have to Shut it Down Again?

Erosion is still a concern today as the force of the tremendous flow of water over the falls continues to eat away several feet a year. There have been some suggestions of covering the face of the falls with heavy metal plates to reduce or even eliminate the effects of the eroding power of the water.

Until then, millions of visitors will continue to travel to the area to enjoy the beauty of Niagara Falls from both sides of the international border.

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Articles on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday about travel, relevant local/regional items, some finance. Always with a slant to ask you to think.

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