things i learned in niagara falls, new york

I learned that our Gray Lines tour guide, an American citizen whose ancestors are from India and who was born in Uganda, has been leading tours here since 1994.  I am reminded daily how much immigrants add to the fabric of our society.  But then I’ve always known that.

I learned that I always prefer to avoid tours because of the combustible mix of personalities, selfish people, and the alliances and cliques that inevitably form.

I learned that Trump-supporting Texans really annoy me.  Especially ones who obviously could care less about being politically correct.

I learned that views of Niagara Falls are not as good on the American side of the Falls as they are on the Canadian side; the views are decent from the Maid of the Mist and the Observation Tower, but they’re not as spectacular as from the Canadian shore.


American Falls & Bridal Veil Falls from Maid of the Mist


Bridal Veil Falls and Cave of the Winds from Maid of the Mist


Horseshoe Falls from Maid of the Mist


American & Bridal Veil Falls, and the Observation Tower, from Maid of the Mist

I learned that three waterfalls make up Niagara Falls: American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Horseshoe Falls.


View of all three falls from the Observation Tower – American, Bridal Veil, and Horseshoe (left to right)

I learned that the Maid of the Mist, with passengers wearing blue ponchos, departs from the American side, while Hornblower Cruises, with red ponchos, departs from the Canadian side.  Both go boldly into the middle of the churning water in the semi-circle of Horseshoe Falls.


View of the Canadian side & Hornblower Cruises from the Observation Tower

I learned the view of Horseshoe Falls from Terrapin Point on Goat Island is disappointing.


view of Horseshoe Falls from Terrapin Point

I learned that I could feel the immense power of the Niagara River from above American Falls.


View above American Falls from Prospect Point



View of the Niagara River before it plummets over American Falls

I learned that standing on the Hurricane Deck at Cave of the Winds beneath Bridal Veil Falls is like standing in the midst of a typhoon.


Cave of the Winds beneath Bridal Veil Falls


Cave of the Winds beneath Bridal Veil Falls


Looking down on the Hurricane Deck at Cave of the Winds

I learned that the Niagara River flows from south to north, which seems counter-intuitive.


Map of Niagara Falls State Park

I learned that four of the five Great Lakes (Superior, Michigan, Huron, and Erie) drain into Lake Ontario via the Niagara River and Niagara Falls. These five Great Lakes make up almost one-fifth of the world’s fresh water supply.

I learned that 750,000 gallons of water per second hurtle over the Falls.

I learned that erosion and rockfalls moved the brink of Niagara Falls upstream up to six feet each year in its early days, but modern influences, such as diverting the water into power generators at night, have caused the Falls to wear away less quickly.

I learned that there have been many attempted and successful suicides at the Falls. In addition, some adventurous people have done daring stunts, such as tightrope walking or going over in barrels, in hopes of making a hefty profit.

I learned that Niagara Falls State Park is the oldest state park in the country, having opened in July 1885.

I learned that the American side of the Falls is more of a natural environment, while the Canadian side has more glitz and commercialism.

I learned that the strange name of “Goat Island” came from its first owner, John Stedman, who raised a herd of goats on the island.  All but one goat died during a cold winter around 1780.

I learned that in 1879, people couldn’t see the Falls because the views were fenced off, or blocked by “Indian bazaars,” hotels and other tawdry attractions. A person could see the Falls only by paying a fee to see it through a small peephole. The best observation points were “appropriated for private profit, and the shores swarmed with sharpers, hucksters, and peddlers who perpetually” harassed all visitors.


The Great Niagara Spectacle

I learned that during the Industrial Revolution, industrialists harnessed the force of the water using water wheels to drive their mills and factories. The whole Falls area at that time was an unsightly series of belching smokestacks.

I learned that a statue of Serbian-American inventor and engineer, Nikola Tesla, on Goat Island was a gift from the Yugoslavian government.


Statue of Nikola Tesla on Goat Island

I learned that the Niagara generating stations supply one quarter of all power used in New York State and Ontario; power grids stretch out all across the area.

I learned that the Power Arch of Adams Power Plant, the world’s first commercial hydroelectric power plant, serves now as a memorial to Niagara’s industrial heritage.


Power Arch of Adams Power Plant

I learned that Native Americans, such as Chief Clinton Rickard — Ro-Wa-Da-Gah-Ra-Deh, Loud Voice, founder of the Indian Defense League of America — played a part in Niagara Falls history.


Statue of Chief Clinton Rickard

I learned that at Whirlpool State Park, class VI white water surges down the gorge into a massive whirlpool, considered perhaps the most dangerous stretch of the river.


Whirlpool State Park

I learned that the area caters to middle class tourists and has its fair share of drive-up motels.

I learned that Niagara Falls is not considered a National Park, so I couldn’t get a sticker and cancellation stamp. 😦


“PROSE” INVITATION: I invite you to write a 1,000-1,500-word post on your own blog about a recently visited particular destination (not journeys in general). Concentrate on any intention you set for your prose.

In this case, my intention was to write a “things I learned each day” list.

It doesn’t matter whether you write fiction or non-fiction for this invitation.  You can either set your own writing intentions, or use one of the prompts I’ve listed on this page: writing prompts: prose & poetry.  (This page is a work in process.) You can also include photos, of course.

While I’m in Spain walking the Camino de Santiago from August 31 – October 25, and then in Portugal from October 26 – November 6, I kindly request that if you write a prose piece, please simply link it to the appropriate post, this one or my next one as soon as it publishes.  I will try my best to read your posts while I’m on my journey, but I won’t have a computer or the time or ability to add links to my posts.

My next scheduled prose post will be on Tuesday, October 23.

This will be an ongoing invitation. Feel free to jump in at any time. 🙂

I hope you’ll join in our community. I look forward to reading your posts!

the ~ wander.essence ~ community

I invite you all to settle in and read a few posts from our wandering community.  I promise, you’ll be inspired!  See below in the comments for any links. 🙂

Thanks to all of you who wrote prosaic posts following intentions you set for yourself.  🙂