Niagara Falls is one of the wonders of the world. Many people travel across the United States, Canada, and even from around the globe to see it each year.
The Falls are known as the American Falls and smaller Bridal Veil Falls (on American soil) which are separated by Goat Island and the Horseshoe Falls (two-thirds of which is in Canada). Today, the American side is a New York State Park and a national park on the Canadian side. At one time, the American side of the falls and Niagara River were lined with factories and mills. But, concerned citizens of New York State went to work and pushed through legislation to protect the area as a park. Established in 1885, Niagara Falls State Park became the first and now the oldest state park in the United States of America.
The falls are formed by water rushing from the Niagara River over a great natural precipice created by the force of the water. The Niagara River connects two of the Great Lakes, Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. The river and falls are fed by the waters of four of the five Great Lakes, Superior, Michigan, Huron and Erie before the river empties into Lake Ontario.
Due to this geography of the Niagara River, 3,160 tons of water flows over Niagara Falls every second., or 75,750 gallons of water per second over the American and Bridal Veil Falls and 681,750 gallons per second over the Horseshoe Falls.
The Falls are capable of producing over 4 million kilowatts of electricity, which is shared by the United States and Canada. The historic electric plant on the American side of the Niagara River contains huge turbines to harness the electricity created by the force of the water which were designed and built by the famous scientist, Nikola Tesla. When Tesla invented alternating current power transmission, it became feasible to transmit electricity across distances. In November 1896, electrical power was transmitted from the Adams Power Plant in Niagara Falls, New York to Buffalo, New York. This was the first time that electricity was transmitted over a long distance anywhere in the world.