The Niagara Falls is one of the most incredible sights on Earth. It is a natural border between America and Canada. Millions of people visit the falls every year and are amazed by their vastness. There are plenty of photos online and in magazines of the pictures, but nothing compares to the real-life view that you get when you see it up close and personal. The falls are amazing and mysterious, which is why a team of scientists decided to investigate it back in 1969. This is what scientists found at the bottom of the Niagara Falls that left them so disturbed.
A Natural Wonder
Around 18,000 years ago, the falls didn’t exist. They were formed then ice sheet from the North Pole left behind vast areas of landscape, what we know today as North America. When the vast chunks of ice started to melt, the fall came into existence. When the glaciers melted, a considerable amount of water was sent into the Niagara River.
It took a lot of time for the water to erode the cliffs, and the falls were formed. By the end of the 19the century, the world’s first hydroelectric generating station was built near the falls. Soon, it started producing electricity. Unfortunately, the electricity could only carry 300-feet, so everyone knew that improvements had to be made. Nicola Tesla was the man who made those changes. He found a way to send electricity to long distances bu using alternating current. Today, the fall’s power plants produce more than two million kilowatts of power.
Draining the Falls
The scientists wanted to see if it was possible to see what was going on behind the falls. They thought that if they could stop them from flowing, they could find out the mysteries behind them. Tempering nature is a challenge, and many people wondered if what the scientists had planned was even possible. How is it possible to stop such a powerful force?
Less Water At Night
This may sound strange, but the amount of water changes at night. This isn’t something that happens; naturally, it is due to a human factor. Local companies are allowed to take water from the falls, but only at night. During the ’50s, the locals signed a treaty to take more water at night when there weren’t too many tourists there, and they wouldn’t notice a difference.
Three Separate Waterfalls
Technically, the Niagara Falls belong to Canada and the United States. There are parts of the falls that belong only to the United States. The American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls are two parts of Niagara Falls, and they belong only to America. There are not parts of the falls that belong to Canada exclusively.
New York’s Concerns
According to the people of New York who visit Niagara Falls regularly, the waterfalls had been experiencing change over time. These New Yorkers noticed that every time a gallon of water goes down the cliffs, the falls lose a bit of their charm. It was believed that the stones that accumulate at the bottom of the falls could cause problems in the future. The concerns of the New York citizens reached Canada, and an organization that takes care of the shared waters was contacted. They are called the International Joint Commission, and they discovered that something had to be done with the accumulated rocks at the bottom of the waterfalls. They even contacted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for their opinion on the matter.
Nobody could come up with a solution for the accumulated rocks, so they decided to shut down the falls. They were going to do it temporarily so that all of the stones could be removed from the water. In the summer of 1969, over 1,000 trucks carried rocks and Earth to the falls just to get them to stop flowing. The loads were dumped upstream of the waterfall for three days. A cofferdam was created, and the falls stopped flowing. The water was redirected from there to the Horseshoe Falls.
The locals were very worried for two reasons. First, they knew that you couldn’t control water. What would happen if the water was rerouted the wrong way, causing a significant flood? Also, they were worried about the tourists. What would happen if they failed to get the falls flowing again? Many locals made money from the tourists. If the falls stopped, the money would dry up as well. The tourists did stop visiting the falls that summer, but those who did show up got to see something that nobody will ever see again. They also had the opportunity to take rocks and incredible coins from the riverbed.
The people who watched while the waters of the fall over the falls when it drained saw skeletons in the water. It was unclear whether the skeletons belonged to animals who had drowned or people who had fallen in the falls at one point. When one of the skeletons was examined, it was determined that the man died when he jumped into the falls. The year that he died was unknown. Another skeleton was a woman, and there was no apparent cause of death apart from drowning. It is believed that the woman saw her loved one drown, and decided to meet him in the same spot.
The fact that the experts were able to stop the falls from flowing was incredible. Fortunately, the falls started flowing again, and today, the Niagara Falls are as incredible as ever. Had the experts not been able to stop the water so they could remove the stones back in 1969, we might have lost one of the greatest wonders of the world.