I came to Niagara remembering 2 things: It was the Honeymoon destination and a place where people travelled over the falls in a barrel. I came away from Niagara learning 3 things.
- Niagara State Park was the very first state park in America. In 1885, New York State signed the Niagara Appropriations Bill into law, creating what is now Niagara Falls State Park and is claimed to be the oldest continuously-operating state park in the US and the first established via eminent domain. (One of the things I am most proud of our country is our dedication to preserving natural wild spaces)
- The first recorded person to survive going over the falls was school teacher Annie Edson Taylor, who on her 63rd birthday, October 24, 1901, went over the falls in a barrel in 1901. Her motives were financial but she never made much money from her adventure. (I have no plans to do anything quite so daring on my 63rd birthday next year. I more likely will be sitting on a beach birdwatching)
- The water flow over the falls is regulated. The normal flow of water volume flowing over the Horseshoe Falls is approximately 100,000 cubic feet/second. From November to April, the water in the river below the Falls does not fluctuate substantially because the water flow remains constant at minimum 50,000 cubic feet/second. From April to November the water level below the Falls rises an average of 3 feet each morning between 8 and 9 am. Similarly, the water drops an average of 3 feet each night between 8and 9 pm. At night, when Hydro Control Dam gates are lifted for diversion of Niagara River water into the hydro tunnels, the flow over the Horseshoe Falls drops to a minimum 50,000 cubic feet of water/second. (While I appreciate the need to manage water flow and provide clean electricity to New York and Ontario, I am saddened by the taming of a mighty river)