The Power of Niagara Falls

Horseshoe Falls
Horseshoe Falls

I’ve been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to see many amazing sites over the years – natural wonders, great works of art, and man-made structures of historical significance. Many have inspired genuine awe, but only a few have brought me to tears; bowled over by their impact deep inside of me. The Statue of David, the Grand Canyon, and Mount Rushmore are a few that come to mind. The Niagara Falls is another. I’m not sure where the heightened emotional response comes from, but it’s powerful when it hits.

We arrived in Niagara Falls well after dark but, thankfully, not too late to see the 10pm fireworks display. Our Airbnb was located down-river and as we hurried towards the main observation area, we started to hear the relentless pounding of the water before we could see the falls. When they came into view, my eyes immediately welled up and my heart started to beat with what felt like the force of the falls. Their incredible beauty and power stopped me in my tracks.

My husband and I were back in Canada after spending almost half of our month-long road trip in the U.S. (Vermont and Upstate New York). On the other side of the Gorge from us was Niagara Falls State Park – America’s oldest state park – but we had read that the Canadian side has the better views and accommodations. Our Airbnb – it actually turned out to be a B&B (Lion’s Head – was nicely situated and the delightful owner, Helena, a trained chef, provided incredible breakfasts for her guests each morning.

Our room at Lion's Head B&B
Our room at Lion’s Head B&B

After a restful night’s sleep and sumptuous strata for breakfast, we headed off to see the sites. In order to get the most out of our one full day in Niagara Falls, we decided to purchase an Adventure Pass which allowed us to visited four main attractions (White Water Walk, Journey Behind the Falls, Hornblower Niagara Cruise, and the 4D film, Niagara’s Fury). The pass also included bus transportation.

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The Niagara Falls were formed at the end of the last Ice Age when the glaciers receded and the water from the newly formed Great Lakes began to carve a path towards the Atlantic Ocean.  The three waterfalls – Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls – are geological wonders estimated to be about 12,000 years old. Millions of gallons of water spill over the falls every minute – about 750,000 gallons each second. The water’s force has been producing hydroelectric power since the first generating station was built in 1881.

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I read recently that New York State is planning to divert the water from the American Falls sometime in the next few years so they can replace two 115-year-old stone arch bridges. If this happens, it will be the first time since 1969 that the water flow has stopped.  The American Falls was slowed to a trickle in 1969 to study the effects of erosion and buildup of rock at the base of the falls. When that happened, people came from all over the world to see the falls turned off.

1969 water diversion. Photo credit: Niagara Falls Public Library
1969 water diversion. Photo credit: Niagara Falls Public Library

If they do in fact divert the water – a once (or twice) in a lifetime event – it could be a perfect excuse for us to visit Niagara Falls again.

Author: Janis @

My blog is about travel, relationships, photography, and whatever else pops into my head (even, sometimes, issues surrounding retirement and aging).

32 thoughts on “The Power of Niagara Falls”

  1. I’ve been to Niagara Falls several times over the years and I never cease to be amazed by them. As beautiful as photos are, they simply don’t capture the roar of the water that seems to reverberate through your bones. I agree that it is emotionally moving!

    I am one of those people waiting for the American Falls to be “turned off”. It will definitely be something worth seeing.

    1. You are so right about the pounding reaching into your bones. You are lucky to live close enough that a trip to the falls isn’t a major undertaking. If you get word about the scheduled diversion, please let me know, I’d love to witness that.

  2. So, apparently this is more than honeymoon destination ? You have piqued my interest – I did not realize the breadth and width of the Niagara Falls. Thank you for the peek into your unexpected response. It made me as a reader realize how truly powerful and moving the experience was for you.

  3. That is an incredible sight! I’ve never been to the falls yet, but hope to in the near future. Maybe when they are turned off? But, I’m afraid it will be even busier then than it already is. I agree that the view from the Canadian side is better. I have those emotional, indescribable moments sometimes as well, so I’m curious whether it would happen at the Niagara Falls…

    1. Even though we were there in early July, we didn’t find it overly crowded. There were lots of people for sure but we weren’t shoulder to shoulder. Even if a look-out point had a lot of people along the edges, they moved out of the way fairly quickly. I agree that when the American Falls are turned off it will probably be a pretty popular destination.

  4. I’ve been several times and loved every minute. The last trip was years ago with one of my then teen-age sons who convinced me to go jet-boating on the river rapids below the falls. What an experience!

  5. I grew up near Buffalo NY and have been there many times. I actually went there with friends on high school prom night since we didn’t go to the prom. It’s awesome in the old-fashioned sense of the word. It also makes me a bit sad for some reason.

    1. As magnificent as the falls were, I was a little sad at the over-the-top touristy area just a few streets away. My husband and I avoided the area, but were surprised at how trashy it looked. Not sure why they felt the need to have that area when the natural attraction is so beautiful.

  6. Although I lived (relatively) close to the Falls, I never went there. They look glorious in your pics. How cool would it be to be there and film when they turn them off (if they do this second time.)

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