Known for decades as an attraction for adventure seekers and honeymooners alike, visited by tens of thousands of awe-struck tourists each year who flock to marvel at the majestic, multi-colored tableaus of its unbridled superfluity, Las Vegas is not the home of Niagara Falls, which is what we really came here to talk about.
The advance of the Cornelian Ice Sheet
While most people probably assume that Niagara Falls is just one waterfall, they would be considered dumb for thinking so if I weren’t also one of them, because there are actually three separate waterfalls. These are Horseshoe Falls (shaped like a curved horseshoe), Bridal Veil Falls (shaped like a gracefully descending bridal veil), and the American Falls (shaped like an obese American). Niagara (in Native American Iroquois, Gahnawehta, meaning “Those Idiots in Barrels”) is the collective name given to the falls, as the river that flows into them is called Niagara, as well as the one that flows out. The international boundary line between Canada and the US was originally drawn in 1819 through Horseshoe Falls, but it has shifted over the years because of erosion, construction, and crafty Canadian subterfuge. The Falls were formed during the last ice age (Official Motto: “You Got Your Mammoths, Now Get Out”) when the advance of the Cordilleran Ice Sheet, which is not a rebel fleet attack maneuver in the new Star Wars movie, but a sheet of ice which nucleated in the northern North American Cordillera extended across the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and [insert more glacial science stuff here] and that’s why the Cubs will never win another World Series.
Just don’t spend your honeymoon at Chuck-e-Cheese
Quite possibly the most famous honeymoon and wedding destination in the US, unless you count Marriott hotels and churches, Niagara has loads of chapels, churches, barges, boats, sloops, steamboats, humvees and helicopters in which you can wow your potential spouse with the joy of overwhelming tackiness. However, considering the fact that over 5,000 people have died there, it seems a little like holding your grandma’s funeral at a Chuck-e-Cheese, aside from the fact that as far as we know there are no recorded deaths from playing Whac-A-Mole. Nonetheless (or neverthemore) thousands of couples have gotten married in the swirling death mist of Horseshoe Falls each year, some of them even sober.
Discretion-deficient daredevils and cannon mouths
No description of Niagara would be complete without a mention of the numerous brain-addled folks who’ve ventured over its edge in everything from barrels to just their own skin. The craze began in 1901 when a 63-year-old schoolteacher named Annie Edson Taylor plunged over the falls in a barrel as a hope of raising money for her retirement, apparently not realizing she wouldn’t be able to spend any of it if she were already dead. She made it successfully, however, and despite her statement that “I would sooner walk up to the mouth of a cannon, knowing it was going to blow me to pieces” than go over again, 14 other discretion-deficient people have voluntarily gone over since, one of them twice, possibly looking for the common sense he lost on his first trip. Other daredevils, apparently afraid of water, crossed over Horseshoe Falls on tightropes, including 22-year-old Maria Spelterini, who went over four times, proving along with Annie Edson Taylor that women are possibly even crazier than men.
- 3,160 tons of water flows over Niagara Falls every second, which, coincidentally, is also exactly the same amount needed to fill the Niagara River below.
- The Niagara River is not a “river”, it is a “strait”, according to the same people that get upset when you say “good” instead of “well”.
- The Falls are not only regarded for their beauty but for their power, which over the past century has been used for powering sawmills, gristmills, tanneries and Lex Luthor’s secret lair, which he time-shares with Electro.
- The Falls generates 2.4 million kilowatts, enough to light 24 million 100 watt bulbs or one 24 billion watt bulb.
- The popular sight-seeing boat “Maid of the Mist” takes visitors to the base of Horseshoe Falls, where passengers can experience the thrill of not dying under millions of tons of crashing water. Taking its first voyage in 1846, the Maid is North America’s oldest running tourist attraction, narrowly beating out “Gill’s Geyser Roulette” at Yellowstone Park.
- With a rate of erosion of 3-4 inches per year, scientists predict the falls will be gone in approximately 50,000 years, at which time all of the signs on the outskirts of town will have to be changed to “Niagara Flats.”