Two twin cataracts, separated by an sland, flowed majestically over a foam curtain.
Niagara, which means “thunder water” is the name that the Native Americans gave to the waterfall, which today constitutes a spectacular border between the United States and Canada. From Lake Erie, the Niagara River flows quietly for almost 56 km, but when it reaches Lake Ontario, it advances into a series of thresholds and swells and then flows into the waterfall, into a curtain of fine, rainbow splashes. Here the water rushes from about 55 m high, in a sea of foam and with a deafening gurgle, as in a bottomless abyss.
Goat Island, on the edge of the waterfall, divides the river into two. American Falls, on the eastern side, forms a straight line nearly 300 m long; Horsesshoe Falls, on the Canadian side, is twice as long and, as the name suggests it is shaped like a horseshoe.
The waterfall is magnificent on both sides, but the Canadian shore offers the best view.For those who want to admire it closely, the Horsesshoe waterfall can be faced in a small boat, Maid of the Mist, which runs through the splash and mist curtain.
Niagara Falls came into sight about 12,500 years ago. Due to the melting of a massive glacier, the water flowed from Lake Erie and stretched north, where it formed Lake Ontario, into a basin nearly 100 m below. Initially, the ridge over which the water falls was 11 km further north – where is Queenston now – but over the centuries it has been eroded by the action of those 7,000 tons of water that advances every second over it. At a speed of 1.2 m per year, it will take 25,000 years for the ridge to reach Lake Erie.
Queenston Heights resounded in the turmoil of the battle when British and American troops clashed in the 1812 war.
Later, near the waterfall there were heard the cheers of those who attended to one or another of the stunts over the Niagara.
The first to take on this stunt risk was Sam Patch of Passaic Falls, New Jersey, who jumped off of Goat Island in October 1829, and survived.
In 1901, Mrs. Annie Edson Taylor, a 43-year-old teacher from Bay City, Michigan, who didn’t know how to swim, was the first to cross Niagara in a barrel in three seconds.The teacher then held a series of conferences, as the “Queen of the Cascade”, hoping to make a fortune of it, but died poor 20 years later.
Of those who tried to imitate his sparrow in the next 60 years, three succeeded and three were killed. George Stathakis of Buffalo, New York, in 1930 was also survived. He survived the fall, but was suffocated into the barrel he remained locked in under the waterfall. He stayed there for no less than 22 hours, unfortunately having enough oxygen for only 3 hours.
In 2012, a 33-year-old American, Nik Wallenda managed to become the first person in history to cross the Niagara Waterfall over a steel cable. In just 25 minutes, he routed a journey of 550 meters, at a height of 58 meters. During the crossing, extremely focused though, the acrobat managed to spoke with his father through some headphones on which they were both connected.