Rare pictures of Niagara Falls 1911 & 1934
Niagara Falls Frozen Over in 1911
The number one question
everyone asks about this set of images is, "Does
Niagara Falls ever really freeze over like this?"
And the answer is yes. During an extended winter cold
snap a hardened crust of ice can accumulate over parts
of the falls -- American Falls in particular --
creating an amazing, naturally-formed ice sculpture,
if you will, that has been known to reach a thickness
of 50 feet. Neither the river nor the falls ever
freezes solid, mind you. The water continues to
flow beneath the ice at all times, albeit reduced to a
mere trickle on rare occasions when ice jams block the
river above the falls.
Historically, when this blanket of ice has spanned the entire Niagara River, the phenomenon has been known as the "ice bridge." Just as you see in the photos, people used to stroll and frolic on and around the frozen falls and even walk across the ice bridge, though no one has been allowed to do the latter since 1912, when the bridge unexpectedly broke apart and carried three tourists to their deaths.
About the images
All of the photographs in this mailing appear to be authentic, though it's unlikely any were actually taken in 1911.
The first in the set,
a sepia-toned photograph listed as an Internet find on
the Web site of the Niagara Falls Public Library, is
of unknown date and origin, according to the
documentation. It also appears on Niagara Falls Live,
where its placement implies that it was taken during
the historic freeze of March 1848, when the falls
actually "went dry" for a few days due to
the formation of an ice dam on Lake Erie.
The second image, a panoramic view of American Falls, the infamous ice bridge, and the "ice mountain" bedotted with antlike human visitors, has been reproduced on Nostalgiaville.com, where the photo is dated 1936. The Washington Post reported on February 2 of that year that the falls had "frozen dry" for the second time in history.
Image #3 is a scan of a picture postcard, originally hand-tinted, displayed on the Niagara Falls Public Library Web site. The card was postmarked August 25, 1911 (though the photograph probably wasn't taken in that year), and bore the following caption: "The cave of the Winds, gyved with a marvelous accumulation of ice and the great flow of water completely hidden by crystalline helmets. Such a sight is rarely to be witnessed, however for history records only three, the last time in 1886, when it is said, a million persons visited Niagara to see the marvelous exhibition of the ice king."
Image #4 appears to have been scanned from a newspaper clipping and is also from the Niagara Falls Public Library collection, where it can be found under the heading "Winter and Ice." The photograph is undated but bears a close resemblance to others in the set originally published in 1890.
The Following pictures taken in 1934