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Niagara Falls History You Probably Didn’t Know About

Niagara Falls from the SkyWhen it comes to the history of Niagara Falls, most everyone knows the basics, such as:

  • The Battle of Lundy’s Lane.
  • Annie Edson Taylor was the first person to survive a trip over the falls (October 24, 1901).
  • The Maid of the Mist sailed from the Canadian side from 1846 to 2013.
  • The movies Superman II, Niagara, and Canadian Bacon were filmed in Niagara Falls.

However, the team at George Sinclair Construction thought it would be fun to take a look at home hidden history scattered throughout the neighbourhoods of Niagara Falls.

If the Niagara River froze over, you could walk on it

If you recall, winter 2017 was so cold, parts of Niagara Falls actually froze over.

Over 100 years ago, if the water flowing on the Niagara River froze (forming an ice bridge), people were legally allowed to walk over it from New York into Ontario.

Great ice bridge disaster

Image courtesy of

(And sometimes, there were over 100 people standing on that ice bridge).

Just imagine: Walking atop Niagara Falls with the frozen river under your feet.

That practice ended on February 4, 1912 with the Great Ice Bridge Disaster.

With 35 people standing on the ice bridge, it suddenly broke apart. Thirty-two people made it back to shore safely.

However, 3 people (Burell Hecock, Eldrige Stanton, and Clara Stanton) fell over the falls and were swept into the Niagara Whirlpool.

One person owns the Skylon Tower, another leases the land underneath it

First, some cool facts about the Skylon Tower:

Skylon Tower

  • Height: 520 ft.
  • Opened: October 6, 1965.
  • Elevator speed: 52 seconds from the bottom to the top.
  • Stairs: 1,324 (2 stairwells with 662 steps each).
  • Weight: 61,200,000 lbs or 27,760,320 kgs.

Yup. The Skylon Tower is pretty impressive.

Now for a bit of history:

Charles Richard Reese (of the Reese Candy Company) owned the tower until 1975, when he sold it for $11,000,000 to Canadian Pacific Hotels (CP).

Fast-forward to 1986: CP sold the Skylon Tower to two local businessmen for $18,000,000:

  • John Gruyich (owner of Michael’s Inn).
  • George Yerich (owner of the Holiday Inn By The Falls).

Two years later, Yerich bought out Gruyich’s share of the tower for $13,000,000. The land underneath the tower is owned by Milicent Gruyich (wife of John) and is leased by George Yerich.

So, to recap what you need to know:

  • The tower is owned by George Yerich.
  • The land under the tower belongs to Milicent Gruyich (who leases it back to George Yerich).

That arrangement expires in 2064, when Milicent Gruyich (or her heirs) gets total ownership of the tower and the land.

In 1969, Niagara Falls really did run out of water

There are always rumours and urban legends of Niagara Falls running out of water.

Well, in 1969, it really happened to the American Falls (and there’s visual proof of it too).

Niagara Falls out of water

Image courtesy of Gizmodo

It was done deliberately, mind you. The US Army Corps of Engineers were worried that all the rocks and boulders at the bottom of the American Falls would cause significant erosion.

So, a dam consisting of 28,700 tons of rock was built and water stopped flowing over the Amercian Falls.

Where was that water diverted to? The Horsehoe Falls, of course.

From June 1969 to November 25, 1969, not a trickle of water flowed over the American Falls.

Sadly, when the falls dried up, two dead bodies were discovered.

On a lighter note, many people ran across the dry top of the falls to pick up coins which were revealed once the water was shut off.

The Niagara Falls Incline Railway is used as a math problem

Students studying trigonometry may find themselves using the Student Solutions Manual for Trigonometry.

Niagara Falls incline railway

And in chapter 4.1 (9th edition), problem 65AYU, they’ll come across this brain twister:

  • Niagara Falls Incline Railway. Situated between Portage Road and the Niagara Parkway directly across from the Canadian Horseshoe Falls, the Falls Incline Railway is a funicular that carries passengers up an embankment to Table Rock Observation Point. If the length of the track is 51.8 meters and the angle of inclination is 36°2°, determine the height of the embankment.

The answer is obvious, of course.

(However, if you feel like telling us, you know, just to be certain, that’s okay too).

Discover Niagara Falls for yourself with Trailside

Niagara Falls is full of interesting facts and stories just about everywhere you go.

It’s a perfect place to call home if you’re a history buff.


And Trailside (our newest collection of bungalow towns in the Lyons Creek area of the city) is the perfect community for you.

It’s close to everything you need…

  • Amenities.
  • Highway access.
  • Recreation and entertainment.

…while at the same time, keeping that tight-knit community feeling that’s so important.

Register for updates on Trailside and check out the floorplans and renderings of our new townhomes.

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