Fifteen million or more people who visit the Falls of Niagara annually, only a few return home after having fully viewed the cataract from every possible vantage point. Much of its grandeur and beauty remain unseen, either through the impatience of the visitor or because of the lack of sufficient guidance. Niagara fully rewards only those who seek out its inspiring beauties and who stop to view them with the slow eye of the artist or the measured contemplation of the true seeker of sights.
Niagara Falls isn’t the highest waterfall. But, for sheer size and volume of water, it can’t be beat. Four Great Lakes drain through the Niagara River and spill over Niagara Falls. The volume of water varies depending on the season and how much water is being diverted through power plants, but 700,000 gallons per second is not unusual for summer.
There are actually three waterfalls at Niagara Falls, forming a giant arc across the Niagara gorge. The widest, at 2,200 feet, is Horseshoe Falls, forming the border between Canada and the US. Its plunge basin is deeper than the height of the waterfall you can view. In Niagara Reservation State Park, between Goat Island and Luna Island sits a narrow strand of falls called Bridal Veil Falls. Between Luna Island and mainland US is the 1,060-feet wide American Falls.
It is hard to believe that such a simple thing as water, one of the most basic of elements, can create such a wonder and attract people from around the world. Niagara Fels has been visited by kings, queens, presidents, prime ministers, movie stars, the rich and the famous, and by millions of other people ‘ all seeking a view of this water falling over a cliff.
It is not water in itself, however, nor the height of its fall, that makes Niagara Falls so spectacular. Instead, it is the immense quantity of water. The only one water falls in the wourld, Victoria Falls in Africa, carries more water.
The rain that falls in the drainage basin of the four upper Great Lakes, a vast geographic area encompassing a large fraction of the interior of North America, collects in the lakes and eventually funnels through the nohow Niagara River on its way to the Atlantic Ocean. Water that is now foaming over the Falls may have fallen years ago somewhere in the rugged wilderness of north-west Ontario, or on the dairy lmds of Wisconsin, or the industrial cities of Illinois.