On the US/Canada border, spectacular Niagara Falls attracts wedding couples and daredevils. Maybe something in the water makes them take the plunge.
Buffalo, New York, has several claims to fame. It’s the birthplace of one of the great bar foods of all time-the Buffalo Wing. It has football fans who endured the bitter sting of four straight Super Bowl losses. It has some of the worst winter weather between Moscow, Idaho, and Moscow, Russia. However, life in Buffalo has an upside.
Just a few miles away, on the US/Canada border, one of the awesome sights in the natural world can be seen. (And heard) Niagara Falls is one of the most popular and easily accessible waterfalls in the world.
When people think of Niagara Falls, they tend to think of one big, spectacular waterfall. In reality, Niagara Falls is a collection of three smaller waterfalls:
Horseshoe Falls – The biggest of the 3, Horseshoe Falls is usually thought of as the "Canadian Falls." It is on the western side of Goat Island and has a drop of around 170 feet. The precipice or "brink" of the falls forms the general shape of a horseshoe and measures about a half-mile in total length. About a third of this length is actually on the American side of the border. American Falls – Northeast of both Goat Island and Horseshoe Falls, American Falls is located entirely on the US side of the border. American Falls is around 1000 feet wide, and the vertical fall at the base is only around 70 feet. After the water goes over American Falls, it continues to cascade down an enormous pile of boulders for another 100 vertical feet or so, where it reaches the same level as the bottom of Horseshoe Falls. Bridal Veil Falls – Often considered to be part of American Falls, Bridal Veil is separated from American Falls by a small island and has a similar 70-foot drop.
The three waterfalls combine for a breathtaking sight, and the noise made by the falling water is louder than a crowd at the Buffalo Bills game. Around 3/4 of a million gallons will go over the falls in a single second, with 80% of this volume going over Horseshoe Falls. Of course, water isn’t the only thing that goes over Niagara Falls.
Niagara Falls Daredevils
For reasons known only to themselves, people come to Niagara Falls to risk pain, long-term health, and personal well-being. These people come to Niagara Falls to…..get married. Yep, Niagara Falls weddings are big business, and so are the subsequent honeymoons. Niagara Falls calls itself the “Honeymoon Capital of the World,” and every couple who spend their honeymoon here gets a certificate signed by the mayor.
As nice as weddings can be, some people use Niagara Falls for thrills of another kind. For more than a hundred years, people have been going over Niagara Falls in a barrel or other man-made device. Many have survived to tell the tale, and some have not. Here are some notable efforts:
Bobby Leach – In 1911, Leach went over the falls in a steel barrel and came away with a broken jaw and two broken kneecaps, but otherwise unharmed. Years later, he would die from gangrene after slipping on an orange peel. John "Super Dave" Munday – In 1985, the Canadian mechanic survived a trip over Niagara Falls in a barrel and did it again in 1993. (Would you let this man work on your brakes?) Robert Overcracker – In 1995, Overcracker opted to jump off of his jet-ski, just as it cleared the edge of Horseshoe Falls, and use a parachute to slow his fall. The parachute didn't open, and his body was never found.
These brave and daring escapades may have varying results, but there is a lesson to be learned: Brides….after your wedding at Niagara Falls, be careful where you toss that bouquet.