Natural Wonder: Niagara Falls Quiz


By: Staff

5 Min Quiz

Image: refer to hsw

About This Quiz

All that majesty, power and water didn't stop Oscar Wilde from quipping about Niagara Falls being the second disappointment in the married life of many American brides who spend their honeymoon there. Test your knowledge of the famous natural site.

How many waterfalls is Niagara Falls made up of?

Niagara Falls isn't just one waterfall — it's three. The largest of the three waterfalls is Horseshoe Falls. Ninety percent of the water that goes over the falls, goes over Horseshoe Falls. Bridal Veil Falls is the smallest of the three, created by a natural separation in the American Falls.


When did Niagara Falls begin to form?

The falls, about 12,300 years in the making, began to form when glaciers were melting at the end of the last ice age, during the Cenozoic Era.


What direction does the Niagara River flow?

The Niagara River flows north.


What countries share the falls?

Niagara Falls is shared by the U.S. (Niagara Falls, New York) and Canada (Niagara Falls, Ontario). Horseshoe Falls is on the Canadian side, and American Falls is in, yup, America. Bridal Veil Falls is also on the American side of the border.


How many of the Great Lakes drain into the Niagara River?

Lakes Erie, Huron, Michigan and Superior, all drain into the Niagara River before they empty into the fifth Great Lake, Lake Ontario.


Why is the water in the Niagara River so green?

It's estimated that 60 tons of dissolved minerals plunge over Niagara Falls every 60 seconds. Minerals dissolved primarily from limestone give the water its green color.


How far does the brink of the falls move every year?

Through the work of erosion, slides, rockfalls and the natural wear on the rocks under the surface of the Niagara River, the brink of Niagara Falls is worn back about 1 foot per year. Before the 1950s, the brink of the falls moved as much as 3 feet every year.


The word "Niagara" comes from the word "onguiaahra," which means what?

Onguiaahra is a word of the Iroquoian-speaking North American Neutral Confederacy, who lived near what is now western New York and Ontario, Canada. It means "a thundering noise."


Has Niagara Falls ever stopped flowing?

Yes, in fact it has. In 1848, ice from Lake Erie jammed the Niagara River, causing the falls to cease for 30 hours.


What is the name of the island between Horseshoe Falls and Bridal Veil Falls?

The island in the middle of the Falls, between Horseshoe and Bridal Veil, is called Goat Island.


Who was the first European to witness the falls?

The first documented account of Niagara Falls from an eyewitness happened in 1683. French priest Father Louis Hennepin was impressed and overwhelmed during a 1678 expedition. Samuel de Champlain and Rene Brehan de Galinee both wrote about Niagara Falls (in 1604 and 1669, respectively) before Hennepin. However, neither of them actually saw the falls, and they relied upon information from local tribes.


Who was the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel?

In 1901, Annie Edson Taylor, a 63-year-old teacher, became the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Bobby Leach was the second. And although Jean Lussier, a native of Quebec, did it before him in a rubber ball, Karel Soucek was the first Canadian to barrel over the falls.


How many people took the plunge over Horseshoe Falls between 1901 and 1995?

Between 1901, when Annie Edson Taylor did it first, and 1995, 15 people have taken the plunge over the falls.


How deep is the river below?

The river below Niagara Falls averages 170 feet deep.


In addition to a barrel, people have gone over the falls using what other device?

Thrill seekers have plunged over the falls in a 6-foot rubber ball (Jean Lussier), a kayak (Jesse Sharp) and by jet ski (Robert Overacker).


How fast are the rapids above the falls?

Above the falls, the rapids have been clocked at 25 miles per hour. (Over the brink they can move as fast as 68 miles per hour.)


Has Niagara Falls ever frozen?

No, but not for Mother Nature's lack of trying. During long periods of frigid weather in 2015, the falls appeared frozen in place, but water continued to flow under that ice. Even back in 1848 when ice jams were a threat, the falls continued to flow.


True or false: Seven-year-old Roger Woodward fell over the falls and survived.

In 1960, 7-year-old Roger Woodward, with nothing more than a life preserver, fell over the falls and survived.


What's the best angle to enter the water if you fall?

The United States Search and Rescue Task Force recommends you enter the water feet first. Tighten your muscles as you fall, and wrap your arms around your head and nose for protection. Before hitting the water, close your eyes and mouth. And don't forget to swim downstream if you're lucky enough to surface.


Who said, "I'm very glad I saw it, because from now on if I am asked whether I have ever seen Niagara Falls, I can say 'yes' and be telling the truth for once."

It was "The Grapes of Wrath" author John Steinbeck who said this.


Who starred in the 1953 film "Niagara" about a young honeymooner with a roving eye?

Marilyn Monroe starred as a honeymooning wife with a roving eye, which threw her and the falls into stardom after much talk about each's assets.


What is the name of the boat that ferries sightseeing visitors near Horseshoe Falls?

The Maid of the Mist is the name of the sightseeing boat that's been taking tourists to the foot of the falls since 1846.


Which American landscape painter is known for his work "Niagara"?

Frederic Edwin Church, known for his Hudson River School style of landscape painting, painted "Niagara" (housed in the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington).


True or false: The Niagara Reservation State Park was the first official state park in the U.S.

It opened on July 15, 1885, as the first state park in the United States.


What was Jean Francois Gravelet, the first tightrope walker to cross the Niagara Gorge, professionally known as?

Jean Francois Gravelet, professionally known as "the Great Blondin," crossed the Niagara Gorge on a tightrope on June 30, 1859.


What is the 90 degree turn in the Niagara River known as?

The Whirlpool is a basin formed where the river makes a 90 degree turn. It's located in the Niagara Gorge, which is downstream from Niagara Falls.


True or false: Niagara Falls was the site of the world's first large-scale hydroelectric generating station.

The first large-scale hydroelectric generating station, which used a direct current (DC) system, opened in 1895.


Who was the inventor and engineer who proved his new alternating current (AC) induction motor could send power from Niagara Falls to Buffalo, New York?

In 1896, Niagara Falls was the first to use Nikola Tesla's AC system of electricity to transmit long-distance power.


True or false: Electricity from power plants in Niagara Falls was the first ever hydroelectric power to be sold as a commodity.

Hydroelectric power was first sold from the power station in Niagara Falls.


How much power do the falls produce today?

The total power produced and shared by the American and Canadian sides Niagara Falls is close to 4.9 million kilowatts of electricity.


Explore More Quizzes

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!