Information and Pictures
The name "Niagara" is said to originate from an Iroquois word "Onguiaahra" meaning "The Strait."
The region's original inhabitants were the Ongiara, an Iroquois tribe named the Neutrals by French settlers, who found them helpful in mediating disputes with other tribes.
For the first two centuries after European settlement of the area, land on both sides of Niagara Falls was privately owned.
Development and commercial ventures threatened the natural beauty of the area, and visitors sometimes had to pay entrepreneurs a fee to view the Falls through holes in a fence.
The original Niagara Falls were near the sites of present-day Lewiston, New York, and Queenston, Ontario, but erosion of their crest has caused the waterfalls to retreat several miles southward. See an aerial view
Niagara Falls Pictures
Niagara Falls - It will take your breath away.
Maid of the Mist - the cruise that takes you right to the foot of the falls. They even supply raincoats.
Journey Behind Falls - A great tour if you would like to see the falls closeup. Read the Legend of Behind the Falls.
Niagara Gardens - The whole area was full of brightly colored tulips.
Niagara at Night - They light up the falls at night, too cool!
Some Niagara Falls Facts
During the 19th century tourism became popular, and it was the area's main industry by mid-century. Napoleon's brother visited with his bride in the early 19th century.
In October 1829, Sam Patch, who called himself The Yankee Leaper, jumped over the Horseshoe Falls and became the first known person to survive the plunge. This began a long tradition of daredevils trying to go over the Falls and survive.
In 1901, 63-year-old Annie Edson Taylor was the first person to go over the Falls in a barrel; she survived virtually unharmed. Since Taylor's historic ride, 14 other people have intentionally gone over the Falls in or on a device. Some have survived unharmed, but others have drowned or been severely injured.
In what some called the "Miracle at Niagara", Roger Woodward, a seven-year-old American boy, was swept over the Horseshoe Falls protected only by a life vest on July 9, 1960, as two tourists pulled his 17-year-old sister Deanne from the river only 6 metres from the lip of the Horseshoe Falls at Goat Island. Roger was plucked from the roiling plunge pool beneath the Horseshoe Falls after grabbing a life ring thrown to him by the crew of the Maid of the Mist boat. His survival, which no one thought possible, made news throughout the world.
Already a huge tourist attraction and favorite spot for honeymooners, Niagara Falls visits rose sharply in 1953 after the release of Niagara, a movie starring Marilyn Monroe.