Niagara Falls — Facts, Falls, Fish and Film

So, I’ve come to realize I’ve misspelled Niagara at every opportunity. The spelling in this post title is correct, in the video captions at the end . . . not so much.

How did Niagara Falls get its name?

“One of the earliest native tribes called themselves the “Onguiaahra”. It is a name from which the “Niagara River” originated.

The French explorers that came to Niagara gave this Indian tribe the name “Neutrals” because of their position and status as peace keepers between the two warring Indian nations – the Huron’s and the Iroquois.

Niagara originates from the Neutral Indian name  “Ongniaahra” meaning “Thunder of Waters.”  (

Interesting facts about the falls

From (

  • Niagara Falls State Park is the oldest state park in the United States of America, established in 1885 as the Niagara Reservation.
  • In 1969, an earthen dam was built across the head of the American Rapids, dewatering the American Falls. For six months, geologists and engineers studied the rock face and the effects of erosion. It was determined that it would be too costly to remove rock at the base of the American Falls, and that nature should take its course.
  • The Falls are capable of producing over 4 million kilowatts of electricity, which is shared by the United States and Canada.
  • The Niagara River is actually a strait, connecting two large bodies of water, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.
  • Four of the five Great Lakes drain into the Niagara River, (Superior, Michigan, Huron and Erie) before emptying into Lake Ontario. These five Great Lakes make up almost one-fifth of the world’s fresh water supply.
  • At one time, before Goat Island became part of Niagara Falls State Park, there were suggestions on what the island could be used for. Mr. Vanderbilt planned to use the island as a pleasure ground for people riding his trains to the falls. P.T. Barnum wanted to turn Goat Island into circus grounds!

People over the falls

Over the years a lot of people have gone over the falls intentionally as a stunt, intentionally as a suicide attempt, and accidentally. Most don’t survive.


“Between 1901 and 1985, ten people went over the Falls in a ball, barrel or rig. Seven were successful while three died in the attempt. […] Thus far 15 people have challenged the Falls of Niagara between 1901 and 1995. Five have died.” (

Suicide Attempts:

“Niagara Falls has earned a grisly reputation as the suicide capital of the U.S., second only to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. […] Experts estimate there are between 20 to 25 suicides at the Falls each year.”

“In June of this year, a 51 year old woman who had been swimming in the river above the falls got swept into the rapids and plunged down horseshoe falls. It was believed to be a suicide.”

“In March 2009, a 30-year-old man miraculously survived after he threw himself off the Falls in a suicide attempt. He became only the third person to survive the plunge without protective equipment.”  (

Accidental Falls:

“A 19-year-old Japanese student apparently fell to her death after climbing over a safety railing for a photograph at Niagara Falls. When local police and firefighters went searching for her, they instead uncovered the body of an unidentified, unrelated man from the whirlpools at the bottom of the falls.”

“In the more than 100 years that Niagara Falls has been a popular tourist attraction–these days, about 11 million people visit annually–a mere seven accidental deaths have occurred at the falls. Only one person has ever survived accidentally going over the falls . . .” (

Do Fish go over the Falls?

“The simple answer is  – yes they do. They do all the time and most survive the rigorous journey. The fish is for the most part is much better built to survive the journey than most humans.” (

This video was made using iMovie and iPhoto on a MacBookPro and then uploading it to YouTube.

14 thoughts on “Niagara Falls — Facts, Falls, Fish and Film”

  1. Growing up in southern Ontario, we were close enough for day trips to the Falls every once in awhile. Generally it was the sort of thing to be done when we had company in town who hadn’t seen the falls. It’s been years since I’ve been there though.

    1. I’ve been there three or four times in my life. I always find it to be awesome. I enjoy the American park better than the chaos of the Canadian strip. It’s been a while since I’ve been on that side, though. Next time.

    1. Yes. I was surprised by the high number of suicides every year. I guess it makes sense. It would be easy to jump or fall into the rapids at any point along the way. In fact, while we were there I had thoughts about being grateful our son was 27 years old and not 4. There were places where you could fall in if you ventured too far into the trees.

  2. I love Niagara Falls and waterfalls in general . . .

    Except waterfalls created by too much rain in too little time . . . like all the flooding in New England this week. 😦

    Note to self: Niagara (NOT Viagra with an “N.”)

  3. I’m always misspelling Niagara, too. (Had to check that twice to make sure it was right.)

    Enjoyed the video and photos. I didn’t realize they have black squirrels there. 🙂

    1. Phonetically, we don’t pronounce that first “a” after the “g”. And Nancy’s point above about Viagra makes sense too. We’re used to seeing it spelled that way for that word.


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