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A Day The Falls Stopped In 1848

The winter had been unusually cold and Lake Erie was completely covered with a three-foot thick layer of ice. It was March of 1848, after a prolonged warm spell, strong winds broke the lake ice up into many large blocks. A powerful east wind drove most of the ice chunks to the western end of the lake. In the late hours of March 29th, when the winds changed direction, the ice filled the mouth of the Niagara River at Buffalo.

Shortly after midnight, woken first by silence and then by the excited shouts of their neighbours, the people of Niagara Falls walked to table rock to find the water was gone.

The American & Bridal Veil Falls became completely dry, while the Horseshoe Falls was reduced to a small waterfall at its centre.

In the hours to follow, the people went down into the riverbed and searched amongst the rocks and boulders. The people found muskets from the War of 1812, human bones, Native offerings to the Great Spirit of Niagara and thousands of gold and silver coins tossed in by tourist over the years.

The phenomenon excited most locals; however a few had fears about it.

On March 31st, the river began to flow with a mighty roar. This was the only recorded occurrence of nature turning off the falls.

120 Years later, in June 1969, the United States Army Corps of Engineers shut off the American and Bridal Veil Falls as an attempt to make the American side as attractive as the Canadian.

The plan was to remove the talus from the base of the falls so the water could fall a greater distance.

During the project, water was sprinkled on the bed of the American Rapids to keep the hot sunlight from expanding the numerous cracks in the rock. Many people were upset to see the falls in such an unnatural state.

By November, the decision had been made to keep the talus, as it would be too costly to remove it, and would give the falls an artificial look.

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3 Responses
  1. Heather Roberts says:

    I have always been fascinated by the Niagra Falls but have never read about them. I’m 37 years old and just now started really reading and looking on several websites about the falls. It’s very thrilling to find so many facts that I’ve neglected reading about for so many years. I look forward to finding out more and more each day.

  2. Will Schmitt says:

    Guys, which Niagara falls r we talking bout here? I am baffled.
    I thought Niagara Falls was in Papua New Guinea.

  3. Sarah King says:

    This is a amazing fact about this Fall

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