Saturday, September 02, 2006

I got this photo in email. It is Niagara Falls in 1906 (either that or 1911), when it froze over completely. I simply cannot imagine that body of water freezing solidly enough for people to walk out on the ice. My family visited Niagara Falls the summer that I was 16. On the Canadian side, my dad and I went down in an elevator behind the side of the falls and went out onto a walkway that took you very close to the edge of the Falls, close enough to get completely wet from the spray. You had to don a yellow slicker to go down there. My mom was claustrophobic, so she wouldn't get on the elevator. The thing I remember the most was the noise from the falls, which sounds so powerful you can hardly believe it. The thought that it could get cold enough to freeze all that power in motion boggles the mind.

It has just occurred to me that this photo could be a fake. How about it, Canadians? Did this really happen?
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Michelle said...

Hmmm....I wonder too. Now I am going to be looking into it. You got me interested. Have a great night!

Carmi said...

Hi Judy. I found the answer! Here's the URL:

The key passage is here:

The tremendous volume of water never stops flowing, 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.
Until 1912,visitors were allowed to actually walk out on the ice bridge and

view the Falls from below. February 24th of 1888 the local newspaper
reported that at least 20,000 people watched or tobogganed on the ice.
Shanties selling liquor, photographs and curiosities abounded. On February
4th 1912 the ice bridge broke up and three tourists lives were lost.


Carmi again. So short answer: yes, it did freeze. But from above.

sage said...

Judy, sounds like Carmi got your answer--I lived about an hour south of Buffalo for several years and loved to see the Falls in the winter and in the spring, when big chunks of ice was coming down

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

I just read what Carmi said and it is amazing. That photograph is really extraordinay! I was hoping it was NOT a is so hard to know these days when anything can be 'faked' by anybody...!
Such an interesting thing about Niagra Falls! How wonderful that you visited there...!

ET said...

I remember seeing different photos of the same time of it being frozen.
We visited the falls two days before Labor Day about 1973 and was totally overwhelmed by how huge it was.

Alan G said...

Interesting information. Had no idea that the falls had frozen in the past. With the falls being so loud under normal conditions it must have been really eerie to experience that silence at the falls themselves. To each his own, but I don't think I would have walked out there.

Peter said...

That is a wonderful photo Judy and the information that Carmi got was very interesting, we were certainly a bit more adventurous back in 1912.

srp said...

I would certainly be afraid to walk out on the ice there. In Gary, Indiana the winters were cold enough for Lake Michigan to freeze partially. Close to shore you could see these mounds of ice with pointed tips that built up from the waves while they froze. We walked out on the ice there, but not very far.

utenzi said...

Michele sent me by, Judy.

I remember when I was a kid there was a big news story about Niagara Falls because it stopped. People nearby woke up because the noise that they were so used to had stopped. That was in 1969 when ACORE built some coffer dams to enable them to work on the edge of the falls.

Also, in March of 1848 the water stopped from natural causes. Apparently a big sheet of ice had broken up during a thaw and "dipped" near the fall temporarily stopping the flow of water over the falls. This lasted for something like 30-40 hours. Newspaper accounts of that time differ in the specifics.

Nikki-ann said...

I can't comment on the photo, but Niagara Falls is just stunning. I went in February 2001 (Canadian side) and few over the falls in a helicopter. Just amazing. I didn't get to go behind the falls, but it was pretty loud when we were stood by them (and we got a bit wet there too!).

Hope you're having a good weekend :)

Here from Michele's.

Terri said...

Amazing photo and thanks to Carmi for giving us the answer.

Sue said...

Great photo, and I loved reading Carmi's research on the background of it...

bluesphee said...

that's an awesome picture...thanks for sharing

Anonymous said...

Hey Judy!

I am NOT here sent by Michele, but I saw your name there and thought I should stop by. I'm glad I did! In Minneapolis, we had the Minnehaha Falls. Nowhere near as large as Niagra, but still a wonderful body of water to study. It would form ice bridges, too, so I was pretty certain your photo wasn't a fake.

People don't seem to remember that anywhere with a lot of water tends to get really really cold. "lake effect", the call it.

Now I'm here in IL and I expect the winter will be much more temperate here. 550 miles south and a lot LESS water makes for more warmth and less snow!

Pirate said...

it sure looks real enough to me. i wouldn't have walked on it though.

Jennifer said...

Look how close to the edge they are. That's just crazy.

moon said...

Well, if u remember I was just there this Aug for my Honeymoon.. Niagara Falls is Canada's honeymoon capital lol. We did the same trip down the elevator and through the tunnels look out 2 vantage points and see the wall of falling water, from the Inside of the falls...Incredible!..with the same yellow slickers. To then come out where u did, very close to the falls. It really is something to Feel. I say feel because the sound and the rush of the water shakes through your body. I hope to go back someday. Maybe for an aniversary lol.

Shephard said...

Wow, that's an amazing photo. I've never been to Niagra Falls. It's on my list!