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Facts about The Niagara River For Kids

The Niagara River is a river that flows north from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario.It forms part of the border between the Province of Ontario in Canada and the State of New York in the United States. According to Iroquoian scholar Bruce Trigger, “Niagara” is derived from the name given to a branch of the locally residing native Neutral Confederacy, who are described as being called the “Niagagarega” people on several late-17th-century French maps of the area.

  • The falls have moved approximately 6.8 mi upstream from the Niagara Escarpment in the last 12,000 years, resulting in a gorge below the falls.
  • Power plants on the river include the Sir Adam Beck Hydroelectric Power Stations on the Canadianside, and the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant on the American side.
  • The Niagara River also features two large islands and numerous smaller islands.
  • The Niagara River and its tributaries, Tonawanda Creek and the Welland River, formed part of the last section of the Erie Canal and Welland Canal.
  • After leaving Lockport, New York, the Erie Canal proceeds southwest until it enters Tonawanda Creek.
  • After entering the Niagara River, watercraft then proceed southward to the final lock, where a short section of the canal allows boats to avoid the turbulent shoal water at the river intake and enter Lake Erie.
  • The Welland Canals used the Welland River as a connection to the Niagara River south of the falls, allowing water traffic to safely re-enter the Niagara River and proceed to Lake Erie.
  • Several battles occurred along the Niagara River, which was historically defended by Fort George and Fort Niagara at the mouth of the river and Fort Erie at the head of the river. These forts were important during the French and Indian War and the American Revolutionary War.
  • The river was an important route to liberation before the American Civil War, when many African-Americans escaping slavery on the Underground Railroad crossed it to find freedom in Canada.
  • On the Canadian side of the river the provincial agency Niagara Parks Commission maintains all of the shoreline property, except the sites of Fort George and Fort Erie, as a public greenspace and environmental heritage.
  • Population centers along the Niagara River include: The Niagara River is listed as a Great Lakes Areas of Concern in The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement between the United States and Canada.
  • This history includes numerous bridges that have fallen victim to the harsh conditions of the Niagara Gorge, such as landslides and icepacks.
  • On the Canadian side the Niagara Parkway travels along the River from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie.