When Father Louis Hennepin first laid eyes on Niagara Falls the year was 1678. It was he who would stimulate the imaginations of people around the world with his writings of the mighty cataract and the gorge and river that ran above and below it. As the years wore on more and more adventurers would visit the falls. Some would write essays about it that would later be published in European newspapers and journals. Others would document the falls in paintings and sketches.
As early as 1800 travel journals were being published outlining all the magnificent features of this new frontier. Hotels were built to handle the influx of visitors to the area. The Pavillion Hotel, The Clifton Hotel and The Prospect Hotel all sprang up along the banks of the mighty Niagara River in the early to mid 1800’s. In 1848 the Suspension Bridge was opened at the Whirlpool Rapids connecting Canada with the U.S and allowing a free flow of visitors from either side of the border. In the year 1850 approximately 60,000 visitors came to Niagara to view the falls. It was only the beginning.
Not all visitors to the falls were there to take in the scenery. Many came to Niagara Falls with the intention of conquering the Mighty Cataract. Some did it for the glory, while others did it for monetary reasons. Some would live to tell the tale, while others would not.
Over the years the faces and names have changed, just as the face of Niagara Falls has changed, but it is the exploits of everyone, regardless of whether they triumphed over the falls or not, that give Niagara Falls its colorful history.
Drawn from Nature by W. Vivian – on stone by T.M. Baynce
Daredevils of Niagara Falls
A Comprehensive History of everyone who went over the Niagara Falls–the people and the places
Over the Falls:
Shooting the Rapids:
Swimming the Rapids
The Maid of the Mist:
Miracles of the Falls