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The day Niagara Falls dried up


Lyndsay Morrison
March 29, 2012 — Niagara Falls has only ever fallen silent once before in recorded history. It happened on this day in 1848.


Normally, 168,000 cubic metres of water flows over the Horseshoe Falls each minute
Normally, 168,000 cubic metres of water flows over the Horseshoe Falls each minute

It's one of the most famous natural landmarks in the world. 

And, on this day in history, it dried up completely. 

Niagara Falls fell silent for over 30 hours beginning March 29, 1848. It marked the first time in recorded history that the falls ran dry naturally. 
The cause of the blockage was a strong southwest wind over Lake Erie that moved ice and caused a massive jam at the mouth of the Niagara River. Normally, 168,000 cubic metres of water flows over the Horseshoe Falls each minute, but the restriction in water flow reduced the Falls on both the Canadian side and the American side to a mere trickle. 

Mills and factories in the area dependant on the flow of water were forced to shut down.

As the riverbed quickly dried out, people were able to venture out on foot into what would normally be a torrent of water. For the first time in recorded history, people were able to cross the width of the Niagara River in horse drawn carriages and on foot. 

The dry riverbed gave operators of the famous tourist boat, Maid Of the Mist, the opportunity to blast away large rocks that posed a navigation hazard to the ship's hull. The tourist attraction began its operations in 1846. It continues to give tourists a close up view of the falls to this day.

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