Niagara Falls History

It is estimated that 12,000 years ago when the falls were formed, the edge of the falls was as much as seven miles further down river than it is today. Until the 1950s, when the flow of water began to be controlled, the brink of the falls moved backward an estimated three feet every year because of erosion.

The water that runs over the falls comes from the Great Lakes. Ninety percent of the water goes over the Horseshoe Falls. Originally, as much as 5.5. billion gallons of water per hour flowed over the falls. Today the amount is controlled by the Canadian and American governments to slow erosion. In addition, some of the water is diverted to provide power for the United States and Canada, making Niagara Falls the largest source of electric power in the world.

The Horseshoe Falls are 170 feet high. The brink of the falls is approximately 2,500 feet from one side to the other. The American Falls are 180 feet high and 1,100 feet long.

The river below Niagara Falls averages 170 feet deep. Daredevils who go over the falls usually hit the bottom of the river before popping back to the surface.

Niagara Falls has been one of the most popular destinations for honeymooners in the world since promoters for the area helped institute “honeymooning” as a tradition in the mid-nineteenth century. The 1953 film Niagara starred Marilyn Monroe as a honeymooner with a wandering eye. The film marked Monroe’s explosion as a film phenom—perhaps because the film features a full two minutes of Monroe’s soon-to-be-famous backside as she walks toward the falls for a better view.

Twelve million tourists from all over the world visit Niagara Falls every summer.