Did you know that…

1. Though it’s unclear exactly where the word “niagara” comes from, some believe its derived from the Iroquois word Onguiaahra meaning “the strait” or “thunder of waters.”

2. Niagara County was created from Genesee County in 1808, and Erie County broke away from Niagara in 1821.

3. The Niagara grape variety was first grown here in 1868. It’s widely used in grape juice but is not used to make wine.

4. A little over 213,000 people live in the county. That’s down from an all-time peak 242,000 in 1960.

5. For 26 years, Niagara University was the “The College and Seminary of Our Lady of Angels.” It changed its name in 1883.

6. The average GPA of an entering freshman to the university is 3.4.

7. Lewiston is named after Morgan Lewis, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and a governor of New York.

8. Lewiston was the finish line of Season 8 of The Amazing Race in 2005. It’s the smallest city yet to host the reality show’s finish line. Contestants had to jet boat across the Niagara River.

9. The falls have moved upstream from the Niagara Escarpment almost seven miles in the past 12,000 years. Hydroelectric power generation has greatly slowed erosion.

10. The escarpment actually runs from Watertown, New York, about 70 miles north of Syracuse, and runs all the way to the Wisconsin-Illinois border.

11. When it was completed in 1961, the Robert Moses Power Station was the Western world’s largest hydroelectric power plant. Twenty workers actually died during construction.

12. The Federal Power Commission actually had to take the Tuscarora Reservation to court to build the plant. The case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court in 1960, which ruled the government could use eminent domain against the reservation to take land.

13. The Tuscarora Reservation was established in 1808. The tribe had moved north from the Carolinas in the previous century, and would eventually ally with the Americans in both the American Revolution and the War of 1812.

14. Today, some 1,100 people live on the reservation including 284 families.

15. There’s a movement picking up steam to rename the Robert Moses Parkway.


16. The Erie Canal arrived at Lockport in 1824 though the locks were not completed until a year later. By 1829, Lockport was a bustling village.

17. A French commander literally lost his head during the siege of Fort Niagara during the French and Indian War. He stepped in front of a mortar being test fired.

18. During World War II, Fort Niagara was used as a prisoner of war camp for German soldiers captured in North Africa.

Wikipedia/Public Domain

Wikipedia/Public Domain

19. The US Army would not officially deactivate Fort Niagara until 1960.

20. The Frontier House in Lewiston was once considered the finest hotel in America west of the Hudson River. Both Mark Twain and Charles Dickens once stayed there. From 1975-2004 it was a McDonalds restaurant.

21. The Lewiston-Queenston Bridge is actually a replica of the Rainbow Bridge at Niagara Falls.

22. The bridge that proceeded the Rainbow Bridge, the Honeymoon Bridge, collapsed in 1938. A sudden windstorm on Lake Erie sent ice rushing over the falls, pressing it against the bridge.

23. A cement wall topped with razor wire sits at the center of the disused Michigan Central Railway bridge over the Niagara River to prevent people from walking across it.

24. Tonawanda Creek once had large rapids in it until it was tamed by the Erie Canal.

25. North Tonawanda is called the home of the carousel because it was once home to several ride-making factories, most notably The Allan Herschell Company. A handful of carousels and other rides manufactured here are still in operation around the country.

26. Established in 1808, the town of Cambria is the oldest town in the county.

27. Hartland is named after Hartland, Vermont, the birthplace of some of its early settlers.

28. In 1960, over 100,000 people lived in Niagara Falls. Today less than 50,000 do.

29. 90% of the water flowing through the Niagara River (and not being used for power generation) goes over the Horseshoe Falls.

Featured photo by Nic Redhead/Flickr

MORE: Is It Time To Rename The Robert Moses Parkway?