Niagara Falls Mythbusters

Niagra Falls Mythbusters

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While a mere 950 feet separates New York, USA from Ontario, Canada, a dizzying landmark – Niagara Falls – creates an impassable barrier by dropping over 150,000 gallons of water every second. And if history has taught us anything, it's that wherever there exists a natural phenomenon, there also exists a number of crazy stories, urban myths and tall tales. No doubt the huge population of international visitors (over 12 million each year!) also contribute their fair share of folklore to this region. Think you can tell fact from fiction? Test your knowledge with these Niagara Falls mythbusters:

1. Niagara Falls freezes in extremely cold weather.

TRUE... and FALSE! While the water rushing over the edge of Niagara Falls doesn't ever freeze, mist coming off the water can create formations that freeze in mid-air. If the cold weather sticks around long enough, these frozen mounds form an ice bridge below the falls. These days, it's illegal to walk across the icy passage to the Canadian side, but it's not just a Niagara Falls urban legend that visitors were allowed to cross as recently as 1912.

Niagara Falls
10 Rainbow Blvd.
Niagara Falls, NY 14303
Admission varies

2. Humans have effectively stopped the flow of Niagara Falls.

TRUE! Niagara Falls mythbusters have discovered that in 1969, the water on the American side was halted as engineers and geologists debated the possibility of removing rock in an effort to beautify the attraction. A dam was built, but after six months the project was deemed too expensive and the decision was made to let environmental erosion do the heavy lifting.

3. Niagara Falls is the largest waterfall in the world.

FALSE! Victoria Falls in southern Africa, between Zambia and Zimbabwe, beats Niagara Falls for world dominance in both height and width. Coming in at a whopping 360 feet high and 5,604 feet wide, Victoria Falls topples Niagara Falls' measly 167-foot height and 3,947-foot width. The third place prize goes to Iguazu Falls on the border of Brazil and Argentina.

4. All daredevils that have gone over Niagara Falls have died.

FALSE! Talk about scary urban legends! The first attempt to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel was in 1901 by a 63-year-old schoolteacher named Annie Taylor. Though she survived with minor injuries to her hand (mostly caused when she was pulled out of the barrel), not everyone has been so lucky. Of the 15 people that have tempted fate, five have died. The most recent trip over the falls was in 1995, when 39-year-old Robert Overacker tried to tackle the rush on his jet ski. Sadly, he fell to his death when a rocket-assisted parachute strapped to his back failed to deploy.

If you're thinking of attempting a stunt of your own, think again. Even if you're lucky enough to survive the treacherous feat, you can expect to be greeted by the police, as well as astonished onlookers. Thank Niagara Falls mythbusters for dispelling the common misperception that it's legal; going over the falls will cost you hefty fines, in addition to hospital bills.

5. The nearby Buffalo Bills play some of their games in Canada.

TRUE! Since 2008, the NFL has scheduled an annual Bills game at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada. The "regionalization" program is intended to attract a Canadian fan base and introduce the city of Toronto as a potential addition to the league. Don't worry though – the story that hometown faves like Buffalo wings have been replaced with poutine at the stadium is just another urban myth... so far.

Rogers Centre
1 Blue Jays Way
Toronto, Ontario M5V 1J1, Canada
Check the website for schedule
Admission varies

6. Visitors can walk over the water to cross from the U.S. into Canada.

TRUE! The International Rainbow Bridge is a steel arch that connects Niagara Falls, NY to Niagara Falls, ON, Canada. Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, pedestrians (as well as bicyclists) need only $3.50 and a passport to cross over. Don't believe the Niagara Falls urban myth that border guards will turn a blind eye if you forget your paperwork. Officials on both sides of the custom lines will turn you away without proper documentation.

7. Bridal Veil Falls was named for the large number of couples who celebrate their nuptials there.

FALSE! As the smallest of the three falls that comprise Niagara Falls, Bridal Veil was named because of its resemblance to a bride's veil. Previously named Luna Falls because of the rainbows – or lunar bows – created by the moon shining on the mist of the falls, the name was changed around the last report of lunar bows in 1860. However, according to the historical society, the name Luna Falls was never officially taken off the books and it's still technically accurate to call Bridal Veil Falls by its old moniker.
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