Featured writer: Michelle Grabuski
Magnificent, powerful, beautiful, awesome, stunning, surreal, and hypnotic. Any of these adjectives could describe Niagara Falls. The amount of water that passes over the three waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls is incomprehensible, 6 million cubic feet of water every minute goes over the crestline and with the three waterfalls combined, it has the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world. The water level at the crestline is two feet high. Horseshoe Falls is on the Canadian side and by far the most impressive of the three waterfalls. The American Falls on the United States side has large boulders at the bottom and a smaller waterfall called Bridal Veil Falls is separated from American Falls by Luna Island. All three of the waterfalls are unique and have their own beauty. Water from four of the five great lakes (Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron and Lake Erie) passes over the falls and goes into Lake Ontario, then through the St. Lawrence River and into the Atlantic Ocean.
Niagara Falls is a little over an hour and a half drive from Toronto, where we were spending the night. We could hear the roar of the water after getting out of the car. I couldn’t wait to see it for myself. The rush of the river towards the falls is massive and swift. We just stood there in awe watching the water and taking pictures for the longest time, absorbing the beauty.
There is a gift store at the top of the falls and we bought “Journey Behind the Falls” tickets to go down to the Table Rock Scenic Tunnel that opens behind the falls. This was fun being near all of that water rushing down and even standing back many feet, the spray comes into the tunnel. I had my camera hidden beneath the poncho they gave me on the elevator ride down. Next to the tunnel is an observation plaza so you could look up at the falls. This was so close to the falls I didn’t even bother with my camera, I didn’t want to take the chance with amount of spray all over.
Niagara Falls is the name of the city on the Canadian side and the United States side. The Canadian Niagara Falls is like a mini Las Vegas. We had to cross the border to check out the New York Niagara Falls. Yes, we did have to go through a border patrol gate, but that didn’t take long. On the New York side by American Falls is a 282 foot tall observation platform that extends out over the Niagara Gorge with views of all of the falls and Rainbow Bridge. There is an elevator down to the base where you can access the Maid of the Mist boat tour. There is also a boardwalk called the “Cave of the Winds” so you can get a close view of American Falls.
After being in two countries to get different perspectives of the falls and gorge, it was time for a nice dinner at Skylon Tower. We got seated with the perfect view of the falls and we had a nice buffet dinner and watched as the lights started turning on, illuminating the falls in different colors. The falls were first lit in 1860 to celebrate a visit from the Prince of Wales using volcanic and turbo lights. There were a variety of lightening sources after that but in 1925 a Niagara Falls Illumination Board was created to provide and finance a permanent lighting system. They installed carbon searchlights and Niagara Falls has been lit most nights since then, except for during World War II and a few times after that when facilities couldn’t keep up with the electrical needs, until 1950 when the board guaranteed there would be enough power to keep the lights on.
Five people have lost their lives trying to go over the falls in either a barrel, kayak or jet ski, but nine have survived and two people even did it twice. Some famous visitors include: King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, the Duke and Duchess or York, Princess Margaret, Sir Winston Churchill, Shirley Temple-Black, Drew Barrymore, and Princess Diana with Prince William and Prince Harry. There have also been movie scenes filmed here: Niagara with Marilyn Monroe, Superman II with Christopher Reeve and many more. Niagara Falls is great place to visit and enjoy the power of mother nature.