The dawn of July 1, 2000 saw me with my wife, both children and two nephews packed into the comfort of a Dodge Caravan for a visit to Niagara Falls. A 435 mile journey from the Queens, NY was covered by us in 8 hours that included a couple of breaks of half an hour each. I cannot help but salute the US government for building such wonderful roads cutting through both the plains and the mountains.
I had heard about the Falls, read about it and seen it on the television. However, Onguiaahra, the original name of Niagara Falls meaning "the great thunderer of waters" is a song of eternity, can only be realized when one is physically face to face with the falls. "Om", the primordial sound of the Universe also spelt by the Buddhists as "Ong" can be heard at the falls and the unending eternal flow of waters is not only a natural wonder of beauty and majesty but also the eternal chanting of Om. Perhaps the natives who had known the superb spectacle for thousands of years and always heard the roar long before they actually saw the falls, must have perceived the same thing what I did and as such named the falls "Onguiaahra".
The geographic location on the Niagara River happens to be an international border which divides the United States and Canada.
The water source of the falls is from the Niagara river. The mighty river plunges over a cliff of dolostone and shale.
Niagara Falls is the second largest falls on the globe next to Victoria Falls in southern Africa. One fifth of all the fresh water in the world lies in the four Upper Great Lakes Michigan, Huron, Superior and Erie. All the outflow empties into the Niagara river and eventually cascades over the falls. At the bottom of the falls, the water travels 15 miles over many gorges until it reaches the fifth Great Lake-Ontario.
American Falls and Bridal Veils Falls is the name given to the Falls on the American side. The length of the brink is 1060 feet and the height of the falls is 176 feet. A volume of 150,000 U.S. Gallons per second of water gushes down from these falls.
Canadian - Horseshoe Falls is the name given to the Falls on the Canadian side. The length of the brink here is 2600 feet and the height of the falls is 167 feet. A volume of 600,000 U.S. Gallons per second of water falls from here.
The tremendous volume of water never stops flowing, nor does it decrease in volume. However the falling water and mist create ice formations along the banks of the falls and river. This can result in mounds of ice as thick as fifty feet. If the Winter is cold for long enough, the ice will completely stretch across the river and form what is known as the "ice bridge". This ice bridge can extend for several miles down river until it reaches the area known as the lower rapids.
The ride in the "Maid of the Mist" boat is an exciting experience of both sight and sound. Besides the great thunder of the falls, is the great mist rising caused by the impact of the falls.