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    Wednesday, July 15, 2009


    Nature Creates Ice Art - Part 3- Niagra Falls

    More Ice Art at: and at

    The Day the Niagara Falls Froze Over

    Tue, Jun 23, 2009


    Image: Photographer unknown via Niagara Falls Public Library

    It’s an amazing snapshot – so amazing that many have been quick to cry fake: North America’s most iconic falls, apparently frozen mid-flow – but what moment in time is frozen in sepia within this frame? One might think the answer would be simple, but with the origins of this photo veiled in a mist of uncertainty like the spray produced by the falls themselves, nothing is guaranteed.

    It seems claims of Photoshop frolics are misguided in this case; yet while the shot looks authentic, because its photographer is unknown, we can’t be sure precisely when it was taken. 1911 has been the date aired most on the web, but it could just as easily be 1912, when much of the surrounding Niagara River was frozen. The other point here is that in the photo the falls are not entirely frozen over, with several small spouts of water visible gushing out from beneath the crust of ice crystals.

    American Falls frozen over, probably 1936
    Image: Photographer unknown via Niagara Falls Public Library

    According to historical records, during only one year, 1848, has freezing weather caused the thousands of cubic feet of water per second flowing over the Niagra Falls to run dry, an event thought to have been caused by ice jamming and damming upriver. Ice bridges spanning the Niagara River from bank to bank have formed as a result of various other colder winters, and in 1936, when the photo above was probably taken, the American Falls are said to have frozen over completely.

    Great mass of frozen spray and ice-bound American Falls Niagara, 1902 or 1890
    Image: Photographer unknown via Niagara Falls Public Library

    The years 1909, 1938 and 1949 are others in which the water usually rushing over these famous falls may have been reduced to a trickle – if not over the Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side of the border the Niagara Falls straddle, then at least over the shallower American Falls. Meanwhile, back in 1912, an ice bridge broke apart as several people were crossing it, sending three to their deaths as the ice on which they stood plunged them into oblivion.

    Cave of the winds in winter niagara falls, date unknown
    Image: Photographer unknown via Ellishouse

    To conclude, if there is one specific day when the Niagara Falls might be said to have frozen solid in recent history, it most likely took place in 1848, and even so, the news reports of the time were patchy on detail. More likely, we are looking at several days over the course of a century and a half when the falls gave the appearance of having fully frozen over, when in fact they only did so partially. One thing’s for sure though: it hasn’t happened in some considerable time. Nobody say climate change.

    Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

    Frozen Niagra Falls?

    by dragonhatcher (02/04/2007 - 22:56)

    Niagra Falls

    Do the Falls Freeze over in the Winter?

    Yes and No...... We'll try to explain

    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. There can also be a great deal of "mini-icebergs" which flow down the Niagara River from frozen Lake Erie. The flow of ice has been reduced considerably by the yearly installation of the "ice-boom" on Lake Erie. The ice-boom is a long floating chain (2miles- 3.2 KM) of steel floats strung across the Niagara River from Buffalo New York to Fort Erie Ontario. It is set in place during the month of December and removed during the month of March or April. It is maintained by the New York State Power Authority. The ice boom helps prevent the ice from clogging the river and most importantly the hydroelectric companies water intakes.

    Spring Ice flowing underneath the North Grand Island Bridge HOWEVER.... The flow of water was stopped completely over both falls on March 29th 1848 due to an ice jam in the upper river for several hours. This is the only known time to have occurred. The Falls did not actually freeze over, but the flow was stopped to the point where people actually walked out and recovered artifacts from the riverbed!


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