Niagara Falls History
The most interesting events and facts in history of Niagara Falls. See how Niagara was created, about famous people visiting Niagara
Niagara Falls history article is about creation, how the most famous waterfalls were created, first settlers, Niagara development, famous people, including Nikola Tesla, and other history highlights.
We will also cover the chronology and important dates in history of Niagara evolution, from being the unknown natural occurrence to the most famous waterfalls in the world and one of the seven world’s natural wonders.
Daredevils and stunters are also part of this history lesson.
History of Niagara Falls – Creation
- Niagara Falls history starts a long time ago, when it was carved out by the receding Wisconsin Glacier, more than 10,000 years ago.
- North American Great Lakes and the Niagara River were made by the same forces that created the Niagara Falls.
- All were dug by a continental ice sheet, that drove through the area like a giant bulldozer, deepening some river channels to make lakes and damming others with debris.
When the ice melted, the upper Great Lakes emptied into the Niagara River, which followed the rearranged topography across the Niagara escarpment. In time, the river cut a gorge through the north facing cliff or “cuesta” (Spanish: slope).
Niagara Falls History – The First Settlers
- The first ancient Niagara Falls settlers were the Iroquois.
Iroquois in Niagara Falls history
- The name Niagara originates from an Iroquois word “Onguiaahra” meaning “The Strait.”
- Louis Hennepin, a French priest, is regarded as the first European to visit the area in the 1670s.
- Tourism started in the early 19th century and has been a vital part of the local economy since that time. That was a beginning of a great progress in Niagara Falls history.
- Most of the early settlers in what is now Niagara Falls were United Empire Loyalists.
- The Lundy, Bender and McMicking families were among the Loyalists, who became some of Niagara Falls earliest European inhabitants.
Niagara Falls History – Development and Progress
- In 1848, the first bridge opened across the Niagara River – very important in Niagara Falls history, for future economy growth and progress.
- Niagara Falls markets itself as a honeymoon destination and is self-proclaimed as the Honeymoon Capital of the World.
- That was a great campaign, that boosted tourism and economy.
- Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge has been built by German-born John Augustus Roebling in 1855.
- In 1886, Leffert Buck replaced Roebling’s wood and stone bridge with the steel bridge that still carries trains over the Niagara River.
- The first steel archway bridge near the Falls was completed in 1897, known today as the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge.
- In 1941 the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission completed the third current crossing in the immediate area of Niagara Falls with the Rainbow Bridge.
Niagara Falls History – City Foundation and Expansion
In 1856 a small village named Elgin merged with a small community just to the south. Named Clifton, it was in the Victoria Avenue, Center Street, Clifton Hill area. The enlarged town took the name Clifton.
In 1881 Clifton changed its name to the Town of Niagara Falls and the following year Drummondville became the village of Niagara Falls.
The two communities merged to create the city of Niagara Falls in 1904.
From 1963 townships of Stamford, Chippawa, Willoughby township and a small portion of Crowland township became part of Niagara Falls.
Modern History of Niagara Falls
- The Niagara Falls Power company offered a $100,000 prize for anyone who could develop a method to transmit electricity long distance.
- Within two years, three large hydroelectric generating plants began operating in the area around the Horseshoe Falls.
- In 1883, Westinghouse created an illumination system for Niagara Falls using AC current, thanks to Nikola Tesla. Nikola Tesla, great Serbian scientist and inventor, developed AC generators that will change the world soon.
Nikola Tesla and his great inventions
- During the Ontario Provincial election of 1905, the main issue became “Niagara Power”. At the urging Adam Beck, Mayor of London, Ontario, the Provincial Conservative Party ran on an election platform of “water power of Niagara should be free”.
- The first major project of the Ontario Power Commission was to build a 110,000 volt transmission line from Niagara Falls to Toronto.
- In November of 1908, work began on the Ontario Power Commission power transmission line.
- It was completed in October of 1910 when the first public power was switched on.
- By 1914, the Ontario Power Commission was supplying over 100 municipalities and running short of power.
Famous people in Niagara Falls History
Charles Dickens wrote (American Notes, 1842):
“… I was in a manner stunned, and unable to comprehend the vastness of the scene. It was not until I came on Table Rock, and looked — Great Heaven, on what a fall of bright-green water! — that it came upon me in its full might and majesty.”
Mark Twain wrote:
“NIAGARA FALLS is a most enjoyable place of resort.”
…and some of the famous Niagara Falls visitors:
- Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother Jerome visited Niagara Falls with his bride in the early 19th century.
- Theodore Roosevelt in 1901
- The archbishop of Canterbury in 1904
- Nikola Tesla
- King George VI, 1939
- Shirley Temple 1944
- Nehru, Indian prime minister in 1949
- Princess Margaret, 1958
- Marilyn Monroe
- Christopher Reeve (as a Superman had few scenes in Niagara Falls), 1979.
- Princess Diana with Prince William and Prince Harry, 1991
- And many presidents, prime ministers, celebrities …
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