Niagara Falls Facts & Information Numbers and words cannot adequately convey the majesty of Niagara Falls, but they can offer a frame through which we can gain some perspective on this natural wonder. Here is a collection of interesting Niagara Falls State Park information, fun facts & figures, park legends and history: Niagara Falls State Park is the oldest state park in the U.S.A., established in 1885 as the Niagara Reservation, the first of several such reservations that eventually became the cornerstones to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Frederick Law Olmsted, landscape architect of Niagara Falls State Park, also designed Central Park in New York City. In 1969, an earthen dam was built across the head of the American Rapids, dewatering the American Falls. For six months, geologists and engineers studied the rock face and the effects of erosion. It was determined that it would be too costly to remove rock at the base of the American Falls, and that nature should take its course. 3,160 tons of water flows over Niagara Falls every second. This accounts for 75,750 gallons of water per second over the American and Bridal Veil Falls and 681,750 gallons per second over the Horseshoe Falls. The water falls at 32 feet per second over the falls, hitting the base of the falls with 280 tons of force at the American and Bridal Veil Falls and 2,509 tons of force at the Horseshoe Falls. Niagara Falls are capable of producing over 4 million kilowatts of electricity, which is shared by the United States and Canada. Four of the five Great Lakes drain into the Niagara River, (Superior, Michigan, Huron and Erie) before emptying into Lake Ontario. These five Great Lakes make up almost one-fifth of the world's fresh water supply. Over 12,000 years ago, Niagara Falls extended seven miles down river to what is now Lewiston, New York and Queenston, Ontario. Over the years, the brink has eroded, sometimes as much as six feet per year, to its present site. Niagara Falls State Park stretches over 400 acres, with close to 140 acres of that under water. During the last Ice Age, starting about 1.7 million years ago, continental glaciers up to two miles thick covered the Niagara Frontier region. Audubon designated the Niagara River Corridor as an Important Bird Area (IBA) in 1996, the first internationally recognized area in the world. The river supports thousands of wintering gull and waterfowl species. The lower Niagara River supports one of New York State's endangered fish, the Lake Sturgeon. The Niagara River ecosystems support many of New York State's protected animal species, such as the Lake Sturgeon, Peregrine Falcon and American Bald Eagle. The Niagara River Gorge is home to 14 species of rare plants, some threatened and endangered. In 1901, 140 of the 170 trees native to western New York were found growing on Goat Island. The total number of flora species documented on Goat Island over the last two centuries is just over 600. The first person to see and describe Niagara Falls in depth was Father Louis Hennepin, a French priest who accompanied LaSalle on his expedition to the Niagara region in 1678. Green Island, situated between Goat Island and the mainland, was named after Andrew Green, first president of the commission at the State Reservation at Niagara. He was a very prominent professional in New York City and was critical to the construction of Central Park, as well as the planning of northern Manhattan and today's Bronx. Green helped establish great cultural institutions, such as the Museum of Natural History®, Metropolitan Museum of Art®, and the Bronx Zoo®, and most importantly, led the Greater New York movement that joined the municipalities around Manhattan Island into today's 5-borough city. Three Sisters Islands were named after the daughters of Parkhurst Whitney, a hotelman and prominent local citizen. The daughters names were Asenath, Angeline and Celinda Eliza. A statue of Chief Clinton Rickard, who was the founder of the Indian Defense League in 1926, can be found near the Great Lakes Gardens in Niagara Falls State Park. In November 1896, electrical power was transmitted from the Adams Power Plant in Niagara Falls, New York to Buffalo, New York. This was the first time in the world that alternating current was transmitted over a long distance. At one time, before Goat Island became part of Niagara Falls State Park, there were suggestions on what the island could be used for. Mr. Vanderbilt planned to use the island as a pleasure ground for people riding his trains to the falls. P.T. Barnum wanted to turn Goat Island into circus grounds! In 1885, a horse-drawn carriage ride around the falls cost $1 per hour. On January 27, 1938, the Upper Steel Arch Bridge, known locally as the Honeymoon Bridge, collapsed under pressure from the build up of ice in the gorge below the falls. The bridge had been closed days before in anticipation of the collapse. For additional Niagara Falls State Park information, please call (716) 278-1796.