Leaving Lake Erie area, we traveled up to Grand Island between Buffalo, NY and Niagara Falls, NY. Lake Erie ends in Buffalo and becomes the Niagara River. Basically, four of the great lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, and Erie all drain thru the Niagara River over Niagara Falls and into the last great lake – Lake Ontario. Interesting that these five Great Lakes contain almost one fifth of the worlds fresh water and it all ends up in Lake Ontario. Ontario eventually empties into the St. Lawrence river and to the Atlantic Ocean. But more about the St. Lawrence later when we get there.
The Niagara River flows about 40 miles from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. On the west side of the river is Canada and the east side is New York, USA. The river is not very wide, but we saw no indication of a wall being built to keep the Canadians out, guess they are just not that interested??? We walked across the Rainbow Bridge to Canada had to show passport each way and pay $1 to return thru a turn stall.
The falls are about half way down the river and consist of three distinct falls the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and Horseshoe Falls. They are separated by Luna Island between American and Bridal Veil and Goat Island between Bridal Veil and Horseshoe both accessible from the USA side via trolley or foot.
The falls were created slowly and over the last 12,000 years have moved at least 7 miles upstream in that time. It has moved as much as 6 feet in one year, but today the erosion has slowed partially due to water being redirected to feed hydroelectric power plants. They divert more water overnight to preserve the natural beauty during the day.
The American side has a nice NY State Park designed by Fredrick Law Olmstead the same man who designed Central Park in NYC and many other parks. This state park is also the first state park in the USA developed in 1885. It is very nice with many walking paths and natural areas complementing the flora and fauna of the area and the falls, but the Canadian side really has the best views of the falls themselves.
American Falls – After several large rock slides, in 1969 these falls were dewatered, diverting all water to horseshoe falls for six months so that Geologists and Engineers could study the rock faces and effects of erosion to determine if there were a safe way to preserve what was there. It was determined that the would be too costly to remove the rock from the base of the falls and that nature should be allowed to take its course.
Bridal veil falls – This is a small fall with a long history. The Cave of the Winds is under/in front of these falls where an elevator takes you to a maze of walkways in front of the falls. Looked really wet and not so much fun for $20 each???
Horseshoe Falls is the largest of the falls and as named is the shape of a horseshoe. The Maids of the Mist ferrys on the American side and a comparable ferry on the Canadian side take people up to theses falls and into the mist. This looked pretty cool, but also very wet and $20 each?? Not sure, but we did not go. But the ferrys seemed full all day long, on both sides. Horseshoe is also the largest of the three, of the 700,000 gallons of water per second that go over the falls, a little less than 90% goes over these falls.
Tesla – The with the water power of Niagara Falls Tesla proved that AC current could be used more efficiently and effectively than DC. Look it up I really don’t understand, but Randy does and is very impressed, statues on both sides of the falls, Tesla created modern electricity.
Practically speaking this can be a very expensive visit, parking alone on Goat Island is $10. We parked at the Discovery Center – free and walked both sides of the falls leisurely in around 5 hours including a sitdown snack – only cost was the snack. Peace and Love