Niagara: five secrets of the famous waterfall

Niagara and its famous waterfall can be reached from both the USA and Canada. The border between the countries runs right along the water, along the river. Niagara has an amazing property: it is simply impossible to leave it, and you will look for any excuse to stay longer. The sacred Native American waterfall holds up better than a cowboy’s lasso. We’ve tried to find out what other secrets this beautiful North American destination hides.

The God of Thunder in a Cave

By Russian standards, Niagara is a small river, 56 km long (compare it with the 3500 km long Volga). However, its modest size is made up for by the power with which the river carries its waters. Fast and restless, closer to the waterfall it becomes simply insane. The Indians believed that the god of thunder lived in the cave beneath the waterfall and should be sacrificed to him: flowers, treats, sometimes people. By the way, Niagara translates roughly as “high, loud water” in Native American. The sound of the waterfall can be heard 25 km away.

A century ago, there was a popular attraction here – jumping into the waterfall in a barrel. It was invented by Annie Edson Taylor, who wanted to get rich. She survived (and alas, she was poor), but many of her followers died. One of Niagara’s recent victims was a hapless blogger who decided to “scoop” some water with his hand… It is possible theoretically. Tourists stand for hours by the fence that separates them from the jets flying at breakneck speed, looking at them like mesmerized. More than 3,160 tons of water fall every second. By the way, the water of Niagara Falls is not blue, but green, rather even emerald, which is caused by the special composition of the soil through which it flows.

Being not the highest (only 53 m, in comparison: Angel Falls in Venezuela have a height of 1024 m), Niagara Falls are located at the site of a spectacular natural break in the earth’s crust. It was formed around 12 000 years ago by the movement of glaciers. It is actually a complex of three waterfalls. The most beautiful and largest is undoubtedly the one on the Canadian side. Because of its U-shape, it is called Horseshoe Falls. In turn, its American counterparts are American Falls itself and the smaller Bridal Veil Falls, which are located nearby. It’s jokingly referred to as “British”, apparently emphasizing the extent of the British Empire’s influence on the local order.

At night, Niagara Falls is spectacularly illuminated. Sometimes the colors correspond to national flags or some important historical or political events. For example, this year on June 12, Niagara sparkled with a tricolor in honor of Russia Day.

A boat against the elements

Such a luxurious natural attraction attracts tourists from all over the world by default. So the small towns that are nestled along the river thrive. There are two settlements with the same name among them – Niagara Falls: one is Canadian, the other is American.

It is generally believed that the Canadian one is more fun. Indeed, the main promenade – Clifton Hill Street – is such a mini-mixture of Las Vegas and Disneyland. Hundreds of rides lure gullible tourists with their unsophisticated entertainment. If you are travelling with kids, get ready to pay a hefty sum for all the “Maze of Terror” and “Laughing Rooms”. The main local attraction is the small boat ride right up to the waterfall. The boat first passes very close to the American Falls and then enters directly into the Horseshoe. Get ready: the water will surround you on all sides and literally gush all around you. The red polyethylene raincoats provided on the beach won’t help. By the way, there are the same exact boats sailing from the U.S. shore to Horseshoe, only their raincoats are blue. Apparently, so that the tourists don’t get mixed up in the turmoil.

Another activity on offer only on the Canadian side is ziplining, a high-speed rappel over a waterfall. It is an extreme event, though children over 150 cm tall are also allowed.


Marilyn was here

In 1953 the movie “Niagara” starring Marilyn Monroe was released. It is believed that it was after this film the actress found international fame. Most of the filming took place in the Canadian town of Niagara Falls. While working on the film, the actress lived in the Crowne Plaza Hotel, which was then called the General Brock Hotel – in honor of Sir Isaac Brock, British Major-General, who defended Canada against the Americans. Today Canada and the United States are thick as thieves, but at one time the young U.S. republic was serious about ending the British domination of the continent and taking over Canada. Curiously enough, the main battle between Canada and the United States took place in 1812 (a landmark year for Russia), and the Russian Emperor Alexander I tried to reconcile the warring parties. The hotel has changed names and been renovated over the years, but the eighth floor and Suite 801 will forever be associated with the Monroe name.

By the way, another famous visitor, Queen Elizabeth II, stayed at the Crowne Plaza. Her room is now simply marked as the Elizabeth Room. Anyone can stay in the royal suite. If he plays his cards right at the Casino Niagara, which is connected to the hotel by a system of passageways. By the way, American and Canadian casinos are very democratic. You do not have to wear evening gowns and diamond necklaces. You can come and play in your pajamas, especially since the majority of the audience are jolly 90-year-old women and men.

Fireworks for a neighbor

Next to Niagara Casino is the famous Rainbow Bridge, connecting Canada to the United States. It was built exactly 80 years ago, in 1941: the anniversary will be celebrated on November 1. Before the Rainbow Bridge there was a suspension bridge over the river – the Honeymoon Bridge, which was destroyed in 1938 by an ice drift. There is a rainbow hanging over the bridge almost all the time, so the name is related solely to natural phenomena. In times before COVID-19, it was very easy to get from one country to another (with two separate visas, Canada and the US, of course). Pedestrians walked on the bridge, and cars drove on it. Now traffic is restricted, although it seems they will start letting tourists in and out unhindered from September.

There is an interesting point: one of the main North American holidays, Thanksgiving Day  is celebrated in the USA in November, and in Canada, this day is celebrated in October. Each time, the fireworks are arranged at the border – the country, which is “without a holiday” at the moment, congratulates its neighbor with powerful salvos. Then history repeats itself in reverse.

When the boats that take the tourists to the falls meet, the Americans and Canadians wave and shout to each other with such joy and passion that it becomes clear: these are relatives, who are not allowed to meet as they want.

White Water Walk

To fall even more in love with Niagara, the special White Water Walk hiking trail is worth a walk. Despite the fact that the walk is relatively short (about an hour) and physically limited (you can only walk on a special wooden deck), it will be memorable for a lifetime. You will find yourself in close proximity to the raging river, white with foam. You will see the rapids of the highest, sixth, class of danger, you will be able to catch a magnificent rainbow in your camera.

Before the “walk on white water” you will be given a raincoat and special shoes, but, alas, it will not save you from total drenching: if you get on Niagara, it is impossible to hide from its splashes. That’s why it’s best to hike when the weather is nice and warm or to have professional hiking gear. The trail is open from April through November.

Photo: shutterstock,,, istockphoto, Bohao,