The view of the falls is so majestic, so truly breathtaking that it’s easy to over-estimate its height. In fact, while the Horseshoe Falls stands 53 metres tall the Rogers Centre – home of the Toronto Blue Jays – towers over it at 86 metres tall (or about 289 feet to 178 in the stadium’s favour).
Niagara Falls – including the Horseshoe Falls, American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls – is one of the world’s best-known natural landmarks (despite the legend, it is not one of the Seven Wonders of the World but is still pretty darned impressive and worthy of anyone’s bucket list).
Here are a few more cool facts about Niagara Falls you’ll want to know before you visit:
The water that flows over the rim of the falls is about two feet deep, due to some of it being diverted for hydro production further upstream. Before that, it ran about 10 feet deep. It’s the depth at the bottom of the falls that is truly awe-inspiring – 52 metres, or about 170 feet.
About 600,000 gallons of water (2.2 million litres) goes over the Horseshoe Falls every second. In a minute you could fill about 55 Olympic-sized swimming pools with all that water.
If you were impressed by wirewalker Nik Wallenda’s trip across the falls a few years ago, you might be surprised to learn the first person to survive going over the falls was not a professional daredevil. On her 63rd birthday, Annie Edson Taylor, an American schoolteacher, went over and lived to tell the tale.
She did it in a barrel and was able to brag about it for the next 20 years of her life until her death in 1921. Many other stunters were not so lucky, and anyone who tries to do it today – if they survive – faces a date in court.
File this one under “horrible but sadly true” – to entertain tourists at the falls, in 1827 a boat was loaded with exotic animals including one or more bears, buffalo, raccoons and an eagle and sent plunging over the falls. The two bears were able to jump free and swim to shore, and the eagle flew away.
Of course, many fish end up going over the falls and as Wikipedia reports, there is at least one instance of a tourist below in the Cave of the Winds being injured after getting struck by a salmon passing by in mid-air.
And every night of the year, the falls are lit up by an illumination system based on the Canadian side. Frequently, the colours are changed to honour an important cause such as the fight against breast cancer or to commemorate an important historical date.
Finally, the horseshoe-shaped falls were formed, of course, by erosion from all that water. In fact, the horseshoe shape gets about two and a half feet deeper (or three-quarters of a metre). It used to be more, but diverting water for hydro production slowed the process.