Tag: river

Editorial: Niagara Falls has to seize the moment

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From the Buffalo News:

Lockport’s good news is a reminder of what Niagara Falls should be doing and isn’t. At least, not enough of it. It’s crazy that both Lockport and Niagara Falls, Ont., are able to move ahead on tourism development, but that on this bank of the international river, things can’t seem to happen very quickly.

Niagara Falls couple may have captured Daredevil Kirk Jones final moments on camera

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From WIVB Channel 4 in Buffalo (includes video):

There’s new information about the death of Niagara Falls Daredevil Kirk Jones. A couple living in Niagara Falls may have witnessed his final moments.

Peggie and Ron Bastian were simply having coffee at home over looking the river, when they saw not one, but two men put an 8-foot inflatable ball into the rapids.

They say, the men and the ball disappeared out of view for just a few moments behind a tree. They then saw just the ball floating downstream. That’s when Peggie captured a picture of the ball and posted it on Facebook.

Lake Erie-Niagara River ice boom installation planned to begin

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From Niagara Frontier Publications (from last Friday):

Placement of the 22 spans of the Lake Erie-Niagara River ice boom is about to start.

Each winter since 1964, the Lake Erie-Niagara River ice boom has been installed near the outlet of Lake Erie to reduce the amount of ice entering the Niagara River. Reduction in ice entering the river reduces the potential for ice jams, which can result in damage to shoreline property and significantly reduce water flow for hydroelectric power production.

Under the International Joint Commission’s 1999 Supplementary Order of Approval, placement of the spans may begin when the Lake Erie water temperature at Buffalo reaches 4ºC (39ºF) or on Dec. 16, whichever comes first. Installation of the ice boom is planned to begin today, weather permitting.

American side of Niagara Falls to go silent

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From North Country Public Radio:

Parks officials in New York are planning a project of historic significance: temporarily shutting off the American Falls. That will dramatically alter a natural wonder that attracts millions of tourists from around the world.

The Niagara Falls State Park project is designed to replace two pedestrian bridges that are over 100 years old. Those bridges connect the main section of the park to Goat Island, which splits the Niagara River into two falls, one in Canada and the other in the U.S.

Shutting off the flow of the river and the falls will give construction workers access to the bridge supports.

My trip to Niagara Helicopters in Fall 2012

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I’ve lived in the Niagara Region for most of my life and have worked in Niagara Falls for 12+ years. After all that time, one thing I had never done was take a helicopter ride around Niagara Falls. Last week I had the opportunity to do just that, and it was awesome!

Our trip started on Victoria Avenue right across the street from the Great Wolf Lodge. This is where the “Heli-Hafen Terminal” is that is run by Niagara Helicopters. On the day we were there, helicopters were coming and going every few minutes, so we got a good look at them taking off and landing.

Once you go inside, there is a ticket counter, and then a nice little gift shop. My wife and kids went to the restrooms first, and said they were clean and bright. Once they were back down in the gift shop, we were ready to go.

There is a video playing on a couple of screens as you walk up towards the helicopter, but we weren’t given a chance to watch them. I’m not sure if they were just promotional videos, or if they were for safety. There is also someone there taking some pictures of you that you look at after you land.

The helicopters are Bell 407 models. Apparently they are the quietest model of that size of helicopter, but they were still pretty loud. It didn’t hurt at all, but they were just loud. Two of my children covered their ears. Once you get loaded into the helicopter, the attendants give you some headphones to put on. They do a great job in cutting down on the noise, and also play an audio tour as you fly.

The ride is open to people of all ages and each helicopter can seat up to six people. There are five seats in the back, and there is a seat next to the pilot. My wife and three children accompanied me. Four of us sat in the back and my middle child sat in the front with the pilot.

Taking off was significantly different than in a plane. There seems to be all sorts of preparation that happens in a plane. You are then going down the runway and finally take off. In the helicopter, one second you are on the ground, and the next second you are up in the air. It was quite quick!

The tour lasts about 15 minutes and takes you up the Niagara River and flies you over the Horseshoe Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and the American Falls. You also get a good look at the various tourist districts (including Clifton Hill), as well as the hydro generating facilities on both sides of the border.

The view is spectacular! We were lucky enough to go on a bright, clear day and you could see a long way off in the distance. The Falls looked great. There are other ways to see the Falls (Skylon Tower, Niagara SkyWheel, etc), but there is no better way to see the whole river like that. The Autumn/Fall colours were on full display in the gorge and they looked beautiful. My kids were a little disappointed that the helicopter didn’t fly lower into the gorge, but it is obvious that they don’t do that sort of stuff for safety reasons.

The ride itself is remarkably smooth, especially as you are moving. As the helicopter hovers in a spot so you can get a nice view, you can feel the helicopter vibrating/shaking a lot more. My wife was not keen on going up in the helicopter as she is kind of afraid of heights, but she enjoyed the ride and only grabbed my leg a couple of times.  The kids weren’t bothered by it at all.

After landing, you are directed into a small room where they show you the pictures they took of you. The pictures are $25 each and are cheaper if you buy a few pictures together.

If you watch the video that I’ve put together below, my 5-year-old daughter says it all. The last second of the video is us landing, and my daughter enthusiastically says, “That was fun!” My sons said the same thing. My 8-year-old son said, “It was wicked! I want to do that every day for the rest of my life!” That son sat in the front and thought he was a “mini co-pilot”.

The ride truly is a “once-in-a-lifetime” trip. It is definitely not cheap (the tickets are $82-$132), but there are always deals around. I’ve seen Groupon-type deals, deals with hotels, and more, so be sure to ask around before paying full price. Even then, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed with the experience.

You can read more about Niagara Helicopters on their website. They have pricing information, along with information about their history, their helicopters, and more.

I took lots of pictures. As always, you can see some of the thumbnails below. You can see all of the thumbnails and all of the larger size images in the Niagara Helicopters in Fall 2012 gallery.

Note: The Niagara Falls Image Gallery now has 3,590 images in 272 categories.

I also recorded some video clips and I’ve put them together into a 2 minute HD video. You can view it below or directly on YouTube. As I noted on the video description, I apologize for some of the unsteady camera work. There were some parts of the ride that were shakier than others, and the more zoomed in I was with the camera, the more noticeable the shaking was.

State Parks Commissioner Outlines Niagara Falls State Park Improvement Plans

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From WKBW Channel 7 in Buffalo:

New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey on Tuesday outlined a three-part plan to ensure that Niagara Falls State Park offers a welcoming and attractive visitor experience that matches the natural beauty of the Niagara River falls and gorge.

“Governor Cuomo’s administration is fully committed to revitalizing New York’s economy, and Niagara Falls State Park is a critical part of the economic future of Western New York,” Harvey said. “The facilities at Niagara Falls State Park need to match the expectations of 8 million visitors coming from around the globe each year to see the iconic falls. State Parks staff takes great pride in the park and we will dedicate ourselves to improving and enhancing the facilities that complement the falls.”

March 30, 1848: Niagara Falls Runs Dry

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I saw a few people tweet about this yesterday, but didn’t get a chance to retweet or blog about it.

From Wired.com:

1848: Niagara Falls stops. No water flows over the great cataract for 30 or 40 hours. People freak out.

The falls were already a tourist attraction by 1848, and villages had grown up on both the U.S. and Canadian sides of the river to accommodate the sightseeing throngs. Residents also built waterwheels to harness the Niagara River’s power to run mills and drive machinery in factories.

An American farmer out for a stroll shortly before midnight on March 29 was the first to notice something. Actually, he noticed the absence of something: the thundering roar of the falls. When he went to the river’s edge, he saw hardly any water.

Came the dawn of March 30, people awoke to an unaccustomed silence. The mighty Niagara was a mere trickle. Mills and factories had to shut down, because the waterwheels had stopped.

The bed of the river was exposed. Fish died. Turtles floundered about. Brave — or foolish — people walked on the river bottom, picking up exposed guns, bayonets and tomahawks as souvenirs.

Was it the end of the world?

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