14 October 2014
The impressive American Falls on the US side of the border with Canada
This morning was warm and sunny and we were on the bus at 7am and heading to the Imax Theatre to watch a short movie about the Niagara Falls – and those who had tried (and some had succeeded) in going over the Falls in a barrel! Then it was time to head to the Maid of the Mist cruise pier for our cruise to the Falls. We were issued with red plastic ponchos that were supposed to keep us dry from the mist from the massive Falls, fairly successfully as we passed by the American Falls, but completely useless if you were brave enough to stay on deck when approaching the Horseshoe Falls – we took the opportunity to take shelter inside at that stage!
Niagara Falls is the collective name for three waterfalls that straddle the international border between Canada and the United States; more specifically, between the province of Ontario and the state of New York. They form the southern end of the Niagara Gorge.
From largest to smallest, the three waterfalls are the Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls. The Horseshoe Falls lie mostly on the Canadian side and the American Falls entirely on the American side, separated by Goat Island. The smaller Bridal Veil Falls are also located on the American side, separated from the other waterfalls by Luna Island. The international boundary line was originally drawn through Horseshoe Falls in 1819, but the boundary has long been in dispute due to natural erosion and construction.
Located on the Niagara River, which drains Lake Erie into Lake Ontario, the combined falls form the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world with a vertical drop of more than 165 feet (50 m). Horseshoe Falls is the most powerful waterfall in North America, as measured by vertical height and also by flow rate. The falls are located 17 miles (27 km) north-northwest of Buffalo New York and 75 miles (121 km) south-southeast of Toronto, between the twin cities of Niagara Falls, Ontario, and Niagara Falls, New York. Niagara Falls were formed when glaciers receded at the end of the Wisconsin glaciation (the last ice age), and water from the newly formed Great Lakes carved a path through the Niagara Escarpment en route to the Atlantic Ocean. While not exceptionally high, the Niagara Falls are very wide. More than six million cubic feet (168,000 m3) of water falls over the crest line every minute in high flow, and almost four million cubic feet (110,000 m3) on average.
The Niagara Falls are renowned both for their beauty and as a valuable source of hydroelectric power. Managing the balance between recreational, commercial, and industrial uses has been a challenge for the stewards of the falls since the 19th century.
The massive Horseshoe Falls taken from the Skylon Tower
Our next stop was the Skylon Tower which gave us fabulous views over the Falls and Niagara City, and gave us a better perception of the layout of the massiveness of the Falls, as we ate our buffet lunch.
Construction on the Tower was started in May, 1964, the Grand Opening was October 6, 1965, there are 3 observation decks (2 dining rooms, 1 indoor/outdoor observation deck). The total height of the tower from base to top of flashing beacon is 520 feet (160m), the height of the tower above Maid of the Mist pool is 775 feet (236m). The weight of concrete for the tower is 48,000,000 lbs. (21,772,800 kilograms, the weight of concrete for base of Tower is 13,200,000 lbs. (5,987,520 kilograms) All windows in the three level Dome are washed monthly by steeple jacks using free suspension from the outside. There are three elevators taking 52 seconds to get to the top. The number of steps in each of the two stairways from lower exhibition floor to observation floor is 662 steps. The Revolving Dining Room has a seating capacity of 276 persons revolves 1 complete revolution per hour, 3 h.p. motor required to turn floor . Visibility of observation on a clear day is 80 miles (129km) (Wikipedia).
Our view of the American Falls as we were having lunch
Part of Niagara City and the massive Casino from the Skylon Tower
Next we set off for our drive north to Toronto, with Lake Ontario appearing from time to time on our right hand side, and passing vineyards and farms, and the seemingly never-ending beautiful autumn trees.
(Left) The awesome Skylon Tower dwarfing the surrounding buildings – not recommended if you are afraid of heights!
When we arrived in Toronto it was fine and warm as we boarded the St Marie I cruise on beautiful Lake Ontario. This was followed by a visit to the CN Tower and a city tour. The idea of the CN Tower (right) originated in 1968 when the Canadian National Railway wanted to build a large TV and radio communication platform to serve the Toronto area, as well as demonstrate the strength of Canadian industry and CN in particular. These plans evolved over the next few years, and the project became official in 1972. The CN Tower and other similar structures are categorized as “towers”, which are free-standing structures that may have observation decks and a few other habitable levels, but do not have floors from the ground up. The CN Tower was the tallest tower by this definition, until 2010.
Marlene is looking a little hesitant, Pete is a little more confident, and the lower photo is what you can see through the glass flooring – scary stuff!
Our Chinese banquet that night was at the Forestview Restaurant in Toronto, then we headed off to our motel, tired and footsore!
Tomorrow we we head for Montreal, via Ottowa, the capital of Canada.