Niagara River

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Niagara River
NiagaraRiverNASA.jpg
Satellite image of the Niagara River. Flowing from Lake Erie in the south (bottom of image) to Lake Ontario in the north, the river passes around Grand Island before going over Niagara Falls, after which it narrows in the Niagara Gorge. Two hydropower reservoirs are visible just before the river widens after exiting the gorge. The Welland Canal is visible on the far left side of this image. (Source: NASA Visible Earth)
OriginLake Erie
MouthLake Ontario
Basin countriesUnited States & Canada
Length58 kilometres (36 mi)[1]
Avg. discharge5,796 m³/s (204,800 cfs)[2]
Basin area684,000 square kilometres (264,000 sq mi)[1]
 
Jump to: navigation, search
Niagara River
NiagaraRiverNASA.jpg
Satellite image of the Niagara River. Flowing from Lake Erie in the south (bottom of image) to Lake Ontario in the north, the river passes around Grand Island before going over Niagara Falls, after which it narrows in the Niagara Gorge. Two hydropower reservoirs are visible just before the river widens after exiting the gorge. The Welland Canal is visible on the far left side of this image. (Source: NASA Visible Earth)
OriginLake Erie
MouthLake Ontario
Basin countriesUnited States & Canada
Length58 kilometres (36 mi)[1]
Avg. discharge5,796 m³/s (204,800 cfs)[2]
Basin area684,000 square kilometres (264,000 sq mi)[1]

The Niagara River (/nˈæɡrə/ ny-AG-ra) is a river that flows north from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. It forms part of the border between the Province of Ontario in Canada (on the west) and New York State in the United States. There are differing theories as to the origin of the name of the river. According to Iroquoian scholar Bruce Trigger, "Niagara" is derived from the name given to a branch of the locally residing native Neutral Confederacy, who are described as being called the "Niagagarega" people on several late-17th-century French maps of the area.[3] According to George R. Stewart, it comes from the name of an Iroquois town called "Ongniaahra", meaning "point of land cut in two".[4]

The river, which is occasionally described as a strait,[5] is about 56 kilometres (35 mi) long and includes Niagara Falls in its course. The falls have moved approximately 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) upstream from the Niagara Escarpment in the last 12,000 years, resulting in a gorge below the falls. Today, the diversion of the river for electrical generation has significantly reduced the rate of erosion.

Power plants on the river include the Sir Adam Beck Hydroelectric Power Stations on the Canadian side, and the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant (built in 1961) on the American side. Together, they generate 4.4 gigawatts of electricity. The International Control Works, built in 1954, regulates the river flow. Ships on the Great Lakes use the Welland Canal, part of the Saint Lawrence Seaway, on the Canadian side of the river, to bypass Niagara Falls.

The total drop in elevation along the river is 99 metres (325 ft). The Niagara Gorge extends downstream from the Falls and includes the Niagara Whirlpool and another section of rapids.

The Niagara River also features two large islands and numerous smaller islands. Grand Island and Navy Island, the two largest islands, are on the American and Canadian sides of the river, respectively. Goat Island and the tiny Luna Island split Niagara Falls into its three sections, the Horseshoe, Bridal Veil, and American Falls. Squaw Island lies further upstream, alongside the city of Buffalo.

The Niagara River and its tributaries, Tonawanda Creek and the Welland River, formed part of the last section of the Erie Canal and Welland Canal. After leaving Lockport, New York, the Erie Canal proceeds southwest until it enters Tonawanda Creek. After entering the Niagara River, watercraft then proceed southward to the final lock, where a short section of the canal allows boats to avoid the turbulent shoal water at the river intake and enter Lake Erie.

The Welland Canals used the Welland River as a connection to the Niagara River south of the falls, allowing water traffic to safely re-enter the Niagara River and proceed to Lake Erie.

The American Falls with Goat Island to its right.

History[edit]

Queenston, Ontario, then known as Queenstown, Upper Canada, in a c. 1805 watercolour by army surgeon Edward Walsh. The Niagara River is clearly visible.

The Niagara River and Falls have been known outside of North America since the late 17th century, when Father Louis Hennepin, a French explorer, first witnessed them. He wrote about his travels in A New Discovery of a Vast Country in America (1698).[6]

The Niagara River was the site of the earliest recorded railway in America. It was an inclined wooden tramway built by John Montresor (1736–1799), a British military engineer, in 1764. Called "The Cradles" and "The Old Lewiston Incline," it featured loaded carts pulled up wooden rails by rope. It facilitated the movement of goods over the Niagara Escarpment in present-day Lewiston, New York.[7]

Several battles occurred along the Niagara River, which was historically defended by Fort George (Canadian side) and Fort Niagara (American side) at the mouth of the river and Fort Erie (Canadian side) at the head of the river. These forts were important during the French and Indian War and the American Revolutionary War. The Battle of Queenston Heights took place near the river in the War of 1812.

The river was an important route to liberation before the American Civil War, when many African-Americans escaping slavery on the Underground Railroad crossed it to find freedom in Canada. The Freedom Crossing Monument stands on the bank of the river in Lewiston, to commemorate the courage of the escaping slaves and the local volunteers who assisted them in secretly crossing the river.

In the 1880s, the Niagara River became the first waterway in North America harnessed for large-scale generation of hydroelectricity.[8]

On the Canadian side of the river the provincial agency Niagara Parks Commission maintains all of the shoreline property, except the sites of Fort George and Fort Erie (both National Historic Sites are maintained federally by Parks Canada), as a public greenspace and environmental heritage.

On the US side New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation maintains the state parks that line Falls and Niagara River.

Today, the river is the namesake of Niagara Herald Extraordinary at the Canadian Heraldic Authority.

Cities and settlements[edit]

The Spanish Aero Car crossing the Niagara Whirlpool
Sign in Niagara Falls, Ontario, warning people not to climb over guard rail overlooking the Niagara River. Photo by George Garrigues

Population centers along the Niagara River include:

NameCountry
Buffalo United States
Chippawa Canada
Fort Erie Canada
Lewiston United States
Grand Island United States
Niagara Falls United States
Niagara Falls Canada
Niagara-on-the-Lake Canada
North Tonawanda United States
Porter United States
Queenston Canada
Tonawanda (City) United States
Tonawanda (Town) United States
Wheatfield United States
Youngstown United States

Pollution[edit]

The Niagara River is listed as a Great Lakes Areas of Concern in The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement between the United States and Canada.

Crossings[edit]

The Niagara River has a long history of both road and rail bridges spanning the river, both upstream and downstream of the Falls. This history includes numerous bridges that have fallen victim to the harsh conditions of the Niagara Gorge, such as landslides and icepacks.

Parks[edit]

Niagara Glen features many rapids downstream of Niagara Falls

The following parks are located along the Niagara River:

NameCountry
Beaver Island State Park United States
Bowen Road Park Canada
Broderick Park United States
Browns Point Park Canada
Buckhorn Island State Park United States
De Veaux Woods State Park United States
Dufferin Islands Natural Area Canada
Earl W. Brydges Artpark State Park United States
Falkner Park United States
Fisherman's Park United States
Floral Clock Park Canada
Fort Niagara State Park United States
Gratwick Riverside Park United States
Griffon Park United States
Jayne Park United States
Joseph Davis State Park United States
King's Bridge Park Canada
MacFarland Park Canada
Niagara Falls State Park United States
Niagara Glen Nature Reserve Canada
Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens Canada
Nike Base Park United States
Queen's Parada Park & Memorial Park Canada
Queenston Heights Canada
Riverside Park United States
Strawberry Island State Park United States
Sugar Bowl Park Canada
Veterans Memorial Park United States
Queen Victoria Park Canada
Whirlpool State Park United States

A Niagara River Greenway Plan is in progress in the United States.

Hydrologic Features[edit]

HYDROLOGIC FEATURES OF THE NIAGARA RIVER
FeatureLocationCountryNotesPhoto
Source of Niagara River42°54′16″N 78°54′21″W / 42.904325°N 78.905869°W / 42.904325; -78.905869 Canada
 United States
The Niagara River originates at the north-east end of Lake Erie, and flows north to its mouth at Lake Ontario.Peace Bridge.jpg
Black Rock Canal42°54′25″N 78°54′07″W / 42.90706°N 78.902053°W / 42.90706; -78.902053 United StatesBlack Rock Canal flows within and parallel to the east shore of the Niagara river near Buffalo, New York, and was built to extend the navigation period in the Niagara River through a greater part of the winter.[9] The canal begins at Buffalo Harbor, on the north-east shore of Lake Erie, then flows north, ending at the Black Rock Lock near the north tip of Squaw Island, New York. The canal is buffered from the Niagara River by Bird Island Pier at its south end, and Squaw Island at its north end.Black Rock Canal Niagara.jpg
Gould Ditch42°55′14″N 78°54′42″W / 42.920689°N 78.911785°W / 42.920689; -78.911785 CanadaHistoric tributary. Once served as a drainage ditch for Gould National Battery plant.[10]
Scajaquada Creek42°55′45″N 78°53′57″W / 42.929091°N 78.899056°W / 42.929091; -78.899056 United StatesTributary.Scajaquada Creek within Forest Lawn Cemetery.jpg
Frenchman's Creek42°56′34″N 78°55′39″W / 42.942648°N 78.927391°W / 42.942648; -78.927391 CanadaTributary.
Chippawa Channel42°57′12″N 78°56′15″W / 42.953344°N 78.937626°W / 42.953344; -78.937626 Canada
 United States
The north-flowing Niagara River bifurcates at the south tip of Grand Island (both sections rejoin at the north tip). "Chippawa Channel" is the river passage on the west side of Grand Island.
Miller Creek42°57′19″N 78°58′31″W / 42.955315°N 78.97537°W / 42.955315; -78.97537 CanadaTributary.
Tonawanda Channel42°57′39″N 78°55′46″W / 42.960757°N 78.929386°W / 42.960757; -78.929386 United StatesWhen the Niagara River bifurcates at Grand Island, the east passage—from the south tip of Grand Island, to a point just north of Tonawanda, New York—is the "Tonawanda Channel".
Baker Creek42°58′22″N 79°00′29″W / 42.972761°N 79.008039°W / 42.972761; -79.008039 CanadaTributary.
Black Creek42°58′52″N 79°01′25″W / 42.980999°N 79.023499°W / 42.980999; -79.023499 CanadaTributary.
Boyer's Creek43°00′07″N 79°01′46″W / 43.00194°N 79.029508°W / 43.00194; -79.029508 CanadaTributary.
Two Mile Creek43°00′39″N 78°54′24″W / 43.010845°N 78.906555°W / 43.010845; -78.906555 United StatesTributary.
Little River (at Tonawanda Island)43°01′23″N 78°53′06″W / 43.022926°N 78.884969°W / 43.022926; -78.884969 United StatesFlows between Tonawanda Island and the New York mainland, within the Tonawanda Channel.
Tonawanda Creek43°01′24″N 78°52′54″W / 43.02338°N 78.881707°W / 43.02338; -78.881707 United StatesTributary.Tonawanda mill dam 8928.jpg
Spicer Creek43°01′31″N 78°53′39″W / 43.025279°N 78.894153°W / 43.025279; -78.894153 United StatesTributary on Grand Island, New York.
Big Sixmile Creek43°01′35″N 79°00′42″W / 43.026494°N 79.011773°W / 43.026494; -79.011773 United StatesTributary on Grand Island, New York.
Little Sixmile Creek43°01′43″N 79°00′37″W / 43.028502°N 79.010217°W / 43.028502; -79.010217 United StatesTributary on Grand Island, New York.
Niagara River Channel43°02′09″N 78°53′38″W / 43.035772°N 78.893809°W / 43.035772; -78.893809 United StatesWhen the Niagara River bifurcates at Grand Island, the east passage—from a point just north of Tonawanda, New York, to the north tip of Grand Island—is the "Niagara River Channel".Niagara River.jpg
Gun Creek43°02′58″N 78°54′57″W / 43.049455°N 78.915728°W / 43.049455; -78.915728 United StatesTributary on Grand Island, New York.
Usshers Creek43°03′05″N 79°01′21″W / 43.051282°N 79.022577°W / 43.051282; -79.022577 CanadaTributary.
Burnt Ship Creek43°03′40″N 78°59′51″W / 43.060987°N 78.997493°W / 43.060987; -78.997493 United StatesTributary on Grand Island, New York.
Woods Creek43°03′44″N 78°58′37″W / 43.062335°N 78.976958°W / 43.062335; -78.976958 United StatesTributary on Grand Island, New York.Woods Creek - Grand Island, New York.jpg
Welland River43°03′46″N 79°02′53″W / 43.062711°N 79.047961°W / 43.062711; -79.047961 CanadaHistoric tributary. Became a man-made distributary—from the Niagara River to a point 5 km west—in order to supply water to an intake channel for Sir Adam Beck Hydroelectric Power Stations.
Underwater intake tunnel to Sir Adam Beck Hydroelectric Power Stations43°04′02″N 79°03′14″W / 43.067124°N 79.053959°W / 43.067124; -79.053959 CanadaNiagara-Tunnel-Project.gif
Little River (at Cayuga Island)43°04′23″N 78°57′06″W / 43.073167°N 78.951724°W / 43.073167; -78.951724 United StatesFlows between Cayuga Island and the New York mainland, within the Niagara River Channel.
Cayuga Creek43°04′33″N 78°57′46″W / 43.075894°N 78.962753°W / 43.075894; -78.962753 United StatesTributary.
Underwater intake for tunnel to Niagara Power Project43°04′38″N 79°00′57″W / 43.07725°N 79.015796°W / 43.07725; -79.015796 United StatesUpriver from Niagara Falls.jpg
Horseshoe Falls43°04′38″N 79°04′30″W / 43.077289°N 79.075127°W / 43.077289; -79.075127 CanadaLocated between the Canadian mainland and Goat Island, New York, the Horseshoe Falls is the largest, and most south-western of three parallel waterfalls over-which the Niagara River flows. There is dispute as to whether the Horseshoe Falls lies entirely within Canada (see Niagara Falls#History).Horseshoe Falls 2006.jpg
Gill Creek43°04′42″N 79°01′33″W / 43.078292°N 79.025838°W / 43.078292; -79.025838 United StatesTributary.
Goat Island Channel43°04′50″N 79°03′38″W / 43.080612°N 79.060535°W / 43.080612; -79.060535 United StatesThe Niagara River bifurcates at the south-east tip of Goat Island. "Goat Island Channel" is the north-east passage around the island.Green Island & Goat Island pedestrian bridge 2008.jpg
Bridal Veil Falls43°05′02″N 79°04′15″W / 43.083781°N 79.070776°W / 43.083781; -79.070776 United StatesLocated between Goat Island and Luna Island, Bridal Veil Falls is the smallest (and middle) of the three parallel waterfalls over-which the Niagara River flows. It is entirely within the US.Bridal Veil Falls below.png
American Falls43°05′06″N 79°04′10″W / 43.084866°N 79.069462°W / 43.084866; -79.069462 United StatesLocated between Luna Island and the New York mainland, the American Falls is the most northern and second largest of three parallel waterfalls over-which the Niagara River flows. It is located entirely within the US.DSCN4390 americanfalls e.jpg
Muddy Run Falls43°06′54″N 79°03′45″W / 43.114972°N 79.06252°W / 43.114972; -79.06252 CanadaHistoric tributary which entered the Niagara River as a waterfall from the top of the Niagara Gorge. Development above Muddy Run Falls destroyed its water supply.
Whirlpool Rapids43°06′58″N 79°03′45″W / 43.116006°N 79.062488°W / 43.116006; -79.062488 Canada
 United States
Whirlpool Rapids Bridge 2.jpg
Colt's Creek Falls43°07′11″N 79°04′19″W / 43.119757°N 79.071929°W / 43.119757; -79.071929 CanadaTributary which enters the Niagara River as a waterfall from the top of the Niagara Gorge. The volume was greatly diminished following construction of the canal to Sir Adam Beck Hydroelectric Power Stations.
Niagara Whirlpool43°07′13″N 79°04′10″W / 43.120219°N 79.069526°W / 43.120219; -79.069526 Canada
 United States
Niagara Whirlpool Spanish Aero Car.jpg
Harvie Falls43°07′19″N 79°04′28″W / 43.12206°N 79.074311°W / 43.12206; -79.074311 CanadaTributary which enters the Niagara River as a waterfall from the top of the Niagara Gorge. The volume was greatly diminished following construction of the canal to Sir Adam Beck Hydroelectric Power Stations.
Devil's Hole Rapids43°08′01″N 79°03′03″W / 43.133547°N 79.050901°W / 43.133547; -79.050901 Canada
 United States
Ad photo.jpg
Bloody Run Falls43°08′06″N 79°02′50″W / 43.134987°N 79.047275°W / 43.134987; -79.047275 United StatesTributary which enters the Niagara River as a waterfall from the top of the Niagara Gorge. The volume was greatly diminished following construction of Robert Moses State Parkway and other streets above the falls.Log Cabin, Bloody Run, Niagara, N.Y, from Robert N. Dennis collection of stereoscopic views
Niagara Power Project43°08′35″N 79°02′23″W / 43.142957°N 79.039807°W / 43.142957; -79.039807 United StatesRobert moses secondary efflorescence 1.jpg
Sir Adam Beck Hydroelectric Power Stations43°08′51″N 79°02′39″W / 43.147419°N 79.04406°W / 43.147419; -79.04406 CanadaAdam Beck Complex.jpg
Smeaton Falls43°09′23″N 79°02′46″W / 43.156275°N 79.045998°W / 43.156275; -79.045998 CanadaTributary which enters the Niagara River as a waterfall from the top of the Niagara Gorge. The volume was greatly diminished following the construction of Sir Adam Beck Hydroelectric Power Stations.Smeaton Falls.jpg
Spring Cave Cascade43°09′26″N 79°02′40″W / 43.157348°N 79.044372°W / 43.157348; -79.044372 United StatesHistoric tributary which entered the Niagara River as a cascade from caves in the wall of the Niagara Gorge. Its source was destroyed following construction of the Niagara Power Project.
Fish Creek Falls43°09′32″N 79°02′41″W / 43.159018°N 79.04459°W / 43.159018; -79.04459 United StatesTributary which enters the Niagara River as a waterfall from the top of the Niagara Gorge. The volume was greatly diminished following the construction of the Niagara Power Project.
Locust Grove Falls43°09′33″N 79°02′51″W / 43.159183°N 79.047532°W / 43.159183; -79.047532 CanadaTributary which enters the Niagara River as a waterfall from the top of the Niagara Gorge. The volume was greatly diminished following the construction of Sir Adam Beck Hydroelectric Power Stations.Locust Grove Falls.jpg
Mouth of Niagara River43°15′46″N 79°04′14″W / 43.262722°N 79.070646°W / 43.262722; -79.070646 Canada
 United States
Niagara on the Lake waterside.JPG

Islands[edit]

Several islands are located on the upper river upriver from the falls:

NameLocationCountryStatusNotes
Beaver IslandGrand Island United Statesparklocated on the south end of Grand Island; part of Beaver Island State Park.
Bird IslandBuffalo United Statesfilled inConnected to Squaw Island in 1822 as part of improvements to Black Rock harbor [1].
Buckhorn IslandGrand Island United StatesparkLocated on the north end of Grand Island. A state park.
Cayuga IslandNiagara Falls United Statesresidentialat the mouth of Cayuga Creek, a residential neighborhood of the city
Cedar Island Canadafilled infilled in by the creation of the William Birch Rankine Power Station by Canadian Niagara Power Company in 1905
Deer Island United States
Dufferin Islands CanadaparkMan-made islands. Parkland.
Frog Island United StatessubmergedWas located in the Upper Niagara River between Motor and Strawberry Islands. Disappeared due to erosion sometime between 1951 and 1985. [2]
Goat IslandNiagara Falls United Statespark located at the brink of the American Falls was named by John Stedman in the 1770s; briefly renamed to Iris Island by General Augustus Porter, a United States Commissioner (after the Greek Goddess of the Rainbow)
Goose IslandCity of Tonawanda United Statesman-made / filled inWas located at the confluence of Tonawanda Creek and the Tonawanda Channel of the Niagara River. Existed from 1825, when the Erie Canal was constructed (thereby cutting Goose Island off from the mainland) until the 1940s, when this portion of the canal was filled in.
Grand Island United Statesdevelopedthe largest island on the river; some parks, but mostly residential and industrial; originally called Ga-We-Not (Great Island) by the Seneca Indians
Grass Island United Statesfilled infilled in during the 1960s to create the Robert Moses Parkway at Point Day
Green Island United Statesoriginally called Bath Island, it was renamed in the early 1900s for Niagara Reservation Commissioner Andrew H. Green
Gull Island Canada
Hogg Island Canadafilled infilled in by the creation of the Chippawa Queenston Power Canal in 1917 and finally by the Sir Adam Beck Dam # 2 in 1950 by the Hydro Electric Power Commission of Ontario
Little Brother IslandNiagara Falls United States
Luna IslandNiagara Falls United Statespark located next to Goat Island; originally called Prospect Island
Motor IslandGrand Island United Statesparka small park
Navy Island Canadaparkdesignated as a national historic park
Rattlesnake IslandTown of Tonawanda United Statesfilled inWas located just south of what is today the South Grand Island Bridge. Was filled in sometime between 1915 [3] and 1927 [4], concurrent with the heavy industrial development of the area.
Robinson Island United Statesnamed for daredevil Joel Robinson in 1860
Ship Island & Brig Island United States
Squaw IslandBuffalo United Statesdevelopedhome to Broderick Park, Squaw Island Park, and a waste-water treatment facility
Strawberry IslandTown of Tonawanda United StatesparkA state park.
Three Sisters IslandsNiagara Falls United Statesparkpark located next to Goat Island was originally called Moss Islands and later renamed for the three daughters of War of 1812 United States Army General Parkhurst Whitney (Asenath, Angeline and Celinda Eliza) in 1843
Tonawanda IslandNorth Tonawanda United Statesdevelopedoccupied by marina and some industries
Tower Island United Statesman-mademan-made island created in 1942 by the US Army Corps of Engineers
Willow Island United Statesman-made / filled inman-made island created in 1759 by Daniel Joncairs and filled in during the 1960s to create the Robert Moses Parkway

Military posts[edit]

United States Coast Guard Fort Niagara Station was once a United States Army post. There are no Canadian Coast Guard posts along the river. Fort Mississauga, Fort George and Fort Erie are former British and Canadian military forts (last used 1953, 1965 and 1923 respectively) and are now parks.

Roads[edit]

On the Canadian side the Niagara Parkway travels along the River from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie.

Robert Moses State Parkway on the state side only travels along the River from the Falls to Lake Ontario. The remaining river sections (with some interruptions) are covered by the LaSalle Expressway, New York State Route 384 and Interstate 190 (New York).

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Facts & Figures - Niagara Parks, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada" (online). Retrieved May 30, 2007. 
  2. ^ Water Resources Data New York Water Year 2003, Volume 3: Western New York, USGS
  3. ^ Bruce Trigger, The Children of Aataentsic (McGill-Queen's University Press, Kingston and Montreal,1987, ISBN 0-7735-0626-8), p. 95.
  4. ^ Stewart, George R. (1967) Names on the Land. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company; p. 83.
  5. ^ Mobot.org
  6. ^ Hennepin, Louis. A New Discovery of a Vast Country in America. Chicago: A.C. McClurg & Co., 1903. Accessed December 8, 2008.
  7. ^ Porter, Peter (1914). Landmarks of the Niagara Frontier. The Author. 
  8. ^ Electricity and its Development at Niagara Falls. University at Buffalo, June 2004. Accessed December 8, 2008.
  9. ^ "Black Rock Canal". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved Jan. 3, 2013.
  10. ^ "Chemicals of Concern in the Niagara River Tributaries - 1988-89". Ontario Ministry of Environment and Energy, Queen's Printer for Ontario, 1993.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 43°04′41″N 79°04′37″W / 43.078°N 79.077°W / 43.078; -79.077