I am so glad to welcome Ms. Buchanan today. She has written a guest post (along with some photos) that includes facts about Niagara Falls. I hope you enjoy learning about it as much as I did. Of course, you should still read the book because there is so much more to this beautiful novel than just the historical information about the Falls.
10 Things You Never Knew About Niagara Falls
(unless you’ve read The Day the Falls Stood Still)
(unless you’ve read The Day the Falls Stood Still)
1. The amount of water tourists see flowing over Niagara Falls is usually only twenty-five percent of the natural flow. Seventy-five percent of the water is diverted for hydroelectricity.
The Queenston powerhouse, built during the book’s timeframe, was the largest hydroelectric development in the world when it opened in 1922. Eight thousand men toiled day and night to build the canal diverting water from the Niagara River to the Queenston powerhouse.
2. The book’s inspiration, legendary riverman William “Red” Hill (1888-1942), hauled 177 bodies from the river, rescued 29 people, and was awarded four lifesaving medals—the first at age seven. He also shot the lower rapids in a barrel. Three times.
3. Created in 1885, Niagara Falls State Park is America’s oldest state park.
The park was the result of a sixteen-year, hard-fought battle by a group of prominent men led by Frederick Law Olmsted, most widely known for designing New York City’s Central Park.
4. In 1901, Annie Taylor became the first person to survive a trip over the falls in a barrel.
5. Niagara Falls has long been a source of inspiration:
“I have seen the falls and I am all rapture and amazement.” —Henry James
“Niagara was at once stamped upon my heart, an Image of Beauty.” —Charles Dickens
“Oh, it is lovelier than it is great; it is like the Mind that made it: great, but so veiled in beauty that we gaze without terror.” —Harriet Beecher Stowe
6. The term “the day the falls stood still” was coined back in 1848 to describe the day the Niagara River became jammed up with ice and ceased to flow over the falls.
With the falls standing still, the locals of Niagara Falls woke to quiet rather than the thunder of the river plummeting from the brink. With the cliff face of their falls and the riverbed bone dry, some ducked into churches, praying for their salvation with Armageddon so close at hand, and others headed out onto the riverbed, salvaging lost timbers and collecting relics from the War of 1812.
7. Toronto’s Archbishop saw a picture of the falls as a boy and conjured up prayers floating heavenward with the mist, a notion that years later led to the establishment of Loretto Academy at Niagara Falls and the tradition of perpetual adoration.
The Loretto Sisters came to Canada in 1861 and transformed a rundown country inn into a convent and school. The community struggled under severe conditions of deprivation and extreme temperatures until the archbishop deeded the sisters six acres of land overlooking Niagara Falls for a new convent and school for female boarders and day students. Afterward, for almost a century, a sister was always on bended knee in the academy chapel offering up prayers to rise with the mist.
8. A barge with two men aboard became lodged in the rapids just above the falls in 1918.
A barge dredging the entrance of a hydroelectric canal on the American side of the river had broken free of its tug and drifted toward the Horseshoe Falls. After becoming snagged on a rock shoal, William “Red” Hill rescued the two deckhands. The scow still remains at the same spot where it became stuck in 1918.
9. A trolley route, described as the most scenic trolley ride in the world, used to run along the rim of the Niagara Gorge on the Canadian side of the river and then along the teeming rapids at the base of the gorge on the American side if the river.
The Great Gorge Route ceased operation in 1935 after decades of accidents and landslides made the route too deadly and too costly to operate.
10. Niagara Falls was once felt to be at least as terrifying as it was beautiful.
In the mid-1800s many people believed Niagara Falls possessed the power to lure those who gazed at it too long into throwing themselves from the brink. Phrases like “awful grandeur” and “frightful beauty” were commonly used to describe the falls. In fact, in the oration delivered at the opening on the Niagara Falls State Park in 1885, the words “awful symbol of Infinite Power, in whose dread presence we stand” was used to invoke Niagara Falls.
Picture captions and credits:
• William “Red” Hill (right) – Niagara Falls (Ontario) Public Library
• Annie Taylor and her barrel – Niagara Falls Pubic Library, Niagara Falls, NY
• Great Gorge Route − Niagara, copyright 1902 by A. Wittemann, Brooklyn, N.Y.
I'd like to thank Ms. Buchanan for writing the very informative guest post. I just happen to have received an extra copy of THE DAYS THE FALLS STOOD STILL, and I'd like to pass it on to one of you. To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment with your e-mail address telling me something you learned about Niagara Falls. To double or triple your chances, you can blog and/or tweet about this giveaway with a link back to this post. This contest will be open until Tuesday, October 6th at 11:59 p.m. EST; and I will notify the winner the following day. This contest is open to those of you with U.S. or Canada mailing addresses only. Good luck!