Ontario Canada’s Biggest Tourist Attraction Niagara Falls Stops Flowing

Did Niagara Falls stop flowing?  On March 29, 1848, people in Niagara Falls freaked out. On that day one of the biggest tourist attractions in the world stopped flowing. No water flowed over the great cataracts for over 30 hours.

By 1848, a Niagara Falls vacation was already very popular and villages on both the Canadian and U.S. regions of the falls were more than eager to accommodate visitors. The river’s power was also used to run factory machineries and mills.

Image Courtesy of Niagara Falls Library.

A farmer going for a walk just before midnight was the first to observe something fishy. In fact, it was the absence of noise that alerted him. At the river’s edge he noticed the lack of water.

Came dawn, residents woke up to an eerie silence. The massive river was just a trickle. Factories and mills were shut down since their needed power had stopped.

Fish and turtles died and some foolish people walked on the dry river bed picking up bayonets, guns, and tomahawks as keepsake.

What happened to the falls? Some thought Niagara Falls dried up for good? Some suspected a supernatural cause, which led to an increase in church services. Some people saw this as the end of the world and they prayed hard for the return of water and the world to remain.

No one could explain why Niagara Falls stopped. Eventually, word arrived from Buffalo (the nearest large city) that strong winds had pushed large chunks of ice into Lake Erie, blocking the lake’s outlet into the Niagara River. The ice jam was now an ice dam.

News about the dry Niagara Falls spread inward and outward. Thousands flocked to town to see the sight and crossed the river on foot, horse, and carriage.

As dangerous as this all sounds, for no one knew when the gushing waters might return, one company used the absence of water to make some safety improvements. The Maid of the Mist tour boat was (and still is) a popular Niagara Falls tourist attraction since it was taking visitors below the falls, but it always needed to steer clear of some dangerous rocks. With the riverbed being dry and the rocks exposed, the boat’s owner got rid of the rocks with explosives.

On March 31, a distant roar came from upriver. The noise became louder and louder. Sounding like a giant thunder, a wall of water came rushing down the river and over the Niagara Falls. The river was finally running again. The Niagara Falls dry spell was over.

One can only hope that no one was out there anymore.

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