The Freezing Of Niagara Falls Truth Or Fiction


It is thought that Niagara Falls got its name from an Indian name. You see, there is an Iroquois word that means “the strait” used to describe the river, and that word was “Onguiaahra.” Other scholars have said that there was a confederacy of natives referred to by 17th century French maps as the “Niagagarega” people. Even scholars are unsure of the appellation’s complete history.


When visitors see the enormity of Niagara Falls, they frequently ask if Niagara Falls freezes or not, envisioning in their minds the total stalling of all the water frozen as if by magic. When winters get cold enough Niagara Falls does freeze, up to a point. Because of the intense volume of water flowing over the escarpments, the water does not actually stop its flow. What does happen though is that the mist as well as the water does create what is known as ice formations or ice mounds. These mounds may be as high as 50 feet and eventually the mounds join to stretch across the river and create an ice bridge.

Again, if it is cold enough this ice bridge may continue on down the river until it may reach the lower rapids. Years back, the general populace used to climb onto the ice bridge to see the falls from underneath. In fact, it became an acknowledged festival as temporary shanties were built to sell liquor, photographs and assorted tourist paraphernalia. Everyone had a great time on the ice bridge until in 1912, when on February 4th the bridge fell apart. It is unfortunate that 3 lives were lost. They had been visiting the Ice bridge of Niagara Falls

In more modern times we see many smaller icebergs come floating down the river from frozen Lake Erie. Man has done much to prevent the icebergs from joining together unless little icebergs might join. The way that they prevent this is that they have installed what’s known as an ice boom directly on Lake Erie. What the ice boom does is to actually stop larger icebergs from forming and keep the ice from uniting into large blocks. The reason this is done is that if the blocks of ice are large enough they can block the flow of water that is now utilized by the hydroelectric companies. Apparently history taught them the lesson that ice jams can indeed cause a complete blockage since this did happen once in the history of the Niagara Falls.

Back in March 29th, 1848 the flow stopped over both falls. Well stopped is not quite true, let’s say that it stopped enough that people walked on the riverbed and actually were able to claim various artifacts from it.

As for stopping the flow completely that in fact was accomplished for a few months back in 1969. The reason was to accomplish a feasibility study of removing loose rock from the base of the American side of Niagara Falls. The reasoning for this was to somehow enhance the appearance of the Falls. In the end, it was deemed to be too expensive an undertaking and the waterfall was resumed.