Hadrian's Wall

Hadrian's Wall
Hadrian's Wall at sunset

Friday, October 2, 2009

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls isn't far from the town of Tonawanda in western New York where I grew up. We went there on dates and after proms and sometimes just when we were bored and needed something to do. I've seen the falls in every season and every kind of weather, crammed with tourists and virtually deserted. I have always felt that the most beautiful time to see the falls is in winter, when most tourists are long gone.
It's dangerous at the falls in the winter. Ropes seal off the most dangerous parts and you may not get as close to the falls as you can in summer. This is due to several things.

First, being close to Buffalo and Lake Erie, there is almost always a thick layer of snow on the ground. Then, because of the continuous mist that is produced by the falls, there is a layer of ice over the snow. On top of the ice is a layer of moisture. Extremely slippery!

That's why certain areas are roped off - so you don't slip and slide right through the bottom of the fence and over the falls.
But it is exactly this combination of factors that makes the falls so beautiful in winter. Every tree, every bush, every fence rail is coated with a thick layer of ice. When the sun comes out, it's like fairyland - everything glitters.

It's also very cold. So wrap up well if you decide to make the trip.

I remember in 1969 the falls were "turned off". The US Corps of Engineers wanted to study if there was anything that could be done about the huge rocks that sat at the bottom of the falls due to erosion. It was dammed somehow above the falls. A mere trickle of water was left. It was so odd! And also somehow just not right.

The falls were turned off from June 12 to November 25 of that year. Tourism took a nosedive. Everyone was happy when the dam was removed and the mighty waters of the Niagara River were free once again. Years later, the engineers decided to do nothing about the rocks and let the falls continue to erode naturally.

I've always wondered what it must have been like for early explorers on the river. What if they didn't know about the falls? The undertow of the Niagara River is very strong and by the time they realized they had a problem it might have been too late to get back.

You hear the falls before you ever get close enough to see them. The tremendous roar and power of the water is hypnotic. Niagara Falls has an interesting history. Tightrope walkers crossed the falls and many people have tried to go over the falls in barrels and other contraptions.
An interesting website to learn more about Niagara Falls is http://www.niagarafrontier.com/.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, Niagara Falls! Slowly I turned, step by step! Inch by inch!... Oh. That's another story. Silly me.

    Yes, indeed. I enjoy watching the Falls at night under a full moon with a mostly clear sky. At night there are colored lights at the base of the Falls on both the American and Canadian side. I prefer the American side as you can get about 40 feet away from the edge. In winter I liked to watch chunks of ice fall toward their imminent doom and be shattered upon the basalt below. Only to be swallowed up by the greater force of the Niagara river. Mmmm...sweet oblivion...how I welcome thee.

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