Have you ever been in another country? Have you ever stood in two countries at the same time? You can be in both the United States and Canada if you visit Niagara Falls.
Niagara Falls is located on the border of Ontario, Canada, and New York. There are actually three waterfalls there — Bridal Veil Falls, American Falls and Horseshoe Falls. Bridal Veil Falls is the smallest, and Horseshoe Falls is the largest. Both Bridal Veil Falls and American Falls are located completely within the United States.
If you visit this time of year, you may see that the falls are frozen! At least, they might look frozen. But because of efforts to keep ice from jamming up the falls, they haven’t been completely frozen over in more than 100 years.
Because it is the largest, Horseshoe Falls gets the most water, some 85,000 cubic feet per second (or more! The most ever recorded was 225,000). All that water is a source for tremendous power. Niagara Falls produces more electricity than any other source in New York.
Niagara Falls produces more than electricity, though. Because the area is so beautiful, tourists come from around the world to see it. The United States and Canada made an agreement to take care of the falls, limiting the amount of power that can come from them (and the equipment they’d have to build around the falls) so people can still enjoy their natural beauty.
Many people have jumped or ridden down the falls. It’s very dangerous, and it’s illegal. Since 1901, 15 have gone over the falls on purpose, many of them getting injured and needing to be rescued. A few did not survive. Others have tried to walk over the falls using a tightrope.
Most people who want to see both sides of the falls simply travel across Rainbow Bridge, which connects the two sides of Niagara Gorge.
Activity: Hydroelectric power
Niagara Falls is a source of hydroelectric power. Do this experiment at home to see how that works.
A large plastic bottle
Cut the top off of the bottle, and make six holes in the base with a pencil. Cut a straw into six equal-sized pieces, and put them into the holes, taping them down. Make three holes at the top of the bottle, and put a string through each hole. Tie those strings together with a fourth piece of string. Holding the bottle by the last string, pour a jug of water into the bottle and see what happens. What should happen is that water will come out of the straws, making the bottle spin. That’s water power!