Facts About Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls is amazing! Learn more about this special place and impress your friends when you check out some fun and interesting facts about Niagara Falls.

Niagara Falls State Park:

  • Niagara Falls State Park is the oldest state park in the U.S. Established in 1885 as the Niagara Reservation, it was 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 was a visionary for Niagara Falls State Park. He also designed Central Park in New York City.
  • Niagara Falls State Park stretches over 400 acres, with close to 140 acres of that under water.
  • 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 in the Welcome Plaza at Prospect Park.

Niagara Falls:

  • 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 is capable of producing over 4 million kilowatts of electricity, which is shared by the United States and Canada.
  • Four of the five Great Lakes (Superior, Michigan, Huron, and Erie) drain into the Niagara River before emptying into Lake Ontario. These five Great Lakes make up almost one-fifth of the world's fresh water supply.
  • 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.
  • In 1969, an earthen dam was built across the head of the American Rapids, de-watering 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.

Unique Niagara:

  • 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.
  • During the last Ice Age, starting about 1.7 million years ago, continental glaciers up to two miles thick covered the Niagara Frontier region.
  • 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.
  • 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 buildup of ice in the gorge below the falls. The bridge had been closed days before in anticipation of the collapse.

Niagara Animals, Flora and Fauna:

  • 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.
  • According to local legend, there were no black squirrels in Niagara Falls in the early 1800s, but there were in Canada across the river. When the first suspension bridge was built across the Niagara River, the avenue was open and the black squirrels crossed the river to the United States. We may never know if the story is true, but you can certainly catch a glimpse of this elusive critter in Niagara Falls today if you keep a sharp lookout!