I finished the Niagara challenge just before I set out on a three-week trip to New Zealand. I wanted a super-local challenge before I went to the other side of the planet.
The Niagara Falls Virtual Challenge takes you 70mi (113km) from the charming town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada to Fort Niagara State Park the oldest state park in the USA. The Niagara Falls natural wonder is one of the greatest attractions of North America with over 13 million visitors each year. I’ve done a portion of this walk in real life (in better weather mind you) and look forward to maybe trying it again this summer. It’s a fascinating view, and a fun place to visit, with lots of other attractions nearby.
Here are some of my favourite facts about Niagara:
- The word Niagara comes from the word “onguiaahra” which means “a thundering noise”.
- The Falls at Niagara are about 12,000 years old. Falls were formed when melting glaciers formed massive fresh-water lakes (the Great Lakes) one of which (Lake Erie) ran downhill toward another (Lake Ontario). The rushing waters carved out a river in their descent and at one point passed over a steep cliff like formation (the Niagara escarpment). From the original falls going over the Niagara Escarpment, the water began to wear its way back up the river. The path that it left is known today as the Niagara Gorge (a deeply-cut and very scenic river path). Currently, Niagara Falls wears its way back another approximately 1 foot/year.
- Niagara Falls is one of the most beautiful places in the world, where the electrification of the world started. Niagara Falls are the final victory of Tesla’s Polyphase Alternating Current (AC) Electricity, which is today lighting the entire globe. Nikola Tesla designed the first hydro-electric power plant in Niagara Falls. This was the final victory of Tesla’s Alternating Current over Edison’s Direct Current. Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse built the first hydro-electric power plant in Niagara Falls and started the electrification of the world. Adam’s Power Station (Power House), the only remains of the old Niagara Falls Power Plant, may become a science museum. This museum would be devoted to Niagara Falls Power Plant, the first hydro-electric power plant in the world, this location is a great turning stone in the history of electricity. Adam’s Station (Power House) is registered as a National Landmark Historical Site. Water is redirected from travelling over the Falls in order to drive large hydro-electric turbines that produce electricity for Southern Ontario and Western New York State. Hydro Electricity generated in Niagara Falls at the Sir Adam Beck 1 and Sir Adam Beck 2 power stations from redirected waterflow serves the electrical needs of Southern Ontario and Western New York.
- “Uncle Toms Cabin”, a famous novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe was partly inspired by the writers trip to Niagara Falls and her subsequent interest in Reverend Josiah Henson who smuggled runaway slaves across the Niagara River into Canada.
- One of the bloodiest battles of the War of 1812 took place on July 25, 1814 at Lundy’s Lane in Niagara Falls, Ontario. A total of 7500 Americans and Canadians fought for six hours. At the end, 1,000 soldiers lay dead or wounded.