A Brief Description of Niagara Falls.
Straddling the US-Canadian border, Niagara Falls draws around 12 million visitors per year, who might not realize that Niagara Falls is actually composed of three falls: American, Bridal and Horseshoe. They converge and crest over a 170-foot dolomite and shale cliff to plummet to the raging river below. All three waterfalls form the area that is collectively referred to as Niagara Falls, which reaches into the province of Ontario and New York state.
Four Great Lakes — Superior, Erie, Huron and Michigan — supply the water to the Niagara River that creates the three falls that combine to form Niagara Falls. Once over the falls, the water flows for 15 miles until it empties into Lake Ontario. Within the Great Lakes and the Niagara River flows 20 percent of the world's freshwater, according to Niagara Falls Live.The second largest falls in the world, Niagara is surpassed in size only by Victoria Falls in southern Africa.
Niagara Falls was formed 12,000 years ago, making it fairly young in geographic terms. In 1615, a Jesuit priest named Gabriel Lalemant officially recorded the Iroquois Indians name for the river, "Onguiaahra," which means "the strait," and when spoken sounds like "Niagara." It was later be simplified to its current spelling by English-speaking people.
In the 1820s, the first tourists began to visit the area to view the stunning scenery, and a stairway was constructed to lead down to Table Rock for easier tourist access to the falls, but it is now closed.Tourism grew after 1820 to such an extent that it became the area's leading industry. Hotels sprang up around the falls to meet the ever-increasing tourist demand for lodging. John August Roebling, the famous designer of New York's Brooklyn Bridge, designed the world's first suspension bridge for the Niagara Railway across the river so that tourists would be able to more easily travel to the area.
During winter, the mist from the falls freezes to form huge mounds of ice that measure up to 50 feet thick. The ice often stretches all the way across the falls and spans several miles to form an ice bridge. Prior to 1912, tourists walked across the ice bridge, but the practice was outlawed after three tourists died when the ice broke away on Feb. 4, 1912.