My sister and I visited four attractions in New York by a bus tour. Niagara Falls is located near Buffalo; Whirlpool is close by; Ft.Niagara is few miles from Niagara Falls and Watkins Glen is 150 miles south east of Niagara Falls.
Niagara Falls is a group of three falls. American and Bridal Veil Falls belong to USA and the Horse shoe Falls belong to Canada. An estimated 20- 30 million people visit the Falls each year. On the US side, the Niagara is not a National Park but it is the oldest State Park (New York, 1885). There may be 500 Falls in the world that can beat Niagara either by height or flow of water. But Niagara holds the record for the combination of height (165 ft) and the flow (0.75-1.5 million gallon per sec depending upon the time, day and season). Ninety percent of water flow is from Canadian side. Niagara Falls also has a record in demonstrating the hydroelectric power. The science and technology of Tesla and Westinghouse made it possible to generate and distribute large amount of electricity over a long distance for the first time. The current power plants in Niagara produce electricity to light more than million homes (2.4 gigawatts). The thundering waters of Niagara is one of the most popular attractions in USA. Niagara Falls is a US National Historic Landmark and is listed in the National Registry of Historic Places. Niagara River and the Falls is really a channel connecting water from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario which eventually goes to Atlantic Ocean through St.Lawrence river.
Whirlpool State Park is located 4 miles north of Niagara Falls. Water from Niagara River takes a violent turn at this location resulting in extreme rapids and a whirlpool.
Fort Niagara is a State Park located on the eastern bank of Niagara river at its mouth on Lake Ontario. It was originally built in 1726 by the French for strategic reasons to control transportation into North America. Later the British and then US took over the fort. The struggle to control north american continent is made clear by the history of Ft. Niagara. Native Americans were used as pawns in the power play!
Watkins Glen is a State park located on the finger lake region of New York. It is a gorge created by ice age glaciers and continuous action of Glen Creek. The water from Glen creek eroded the rocks (shale, limestone, sand stone) at different rates and carved a 400 ft deep gorge over a distance of 2 mile. There are 19 water falls on the major trail and the cliffs are 200 ft high. The creek flows side by side of the walking trail and one can walk behind the falls. Scenery is amazing.
Niagara Falls is not a National park. It is the oldest state park (New York State). It is a National Historic Landmark. It is in the US National Registry of Historic places. Internet map.Niagara Falls water comes from four of the five Great Lakes. Water from these four lakes moves west to east and reach Lake Erie. From Lake Erie, the water goes through Niagara River and over the falls. It drops 160 ft down and reaches lake Ontario in 14 miles. From Lake Ontario the water goes to Atlantic Ocean through St.Lawrence River. Water moves northward from Lake Erie to Atlantic Ocean. The amount of water in all five lakes is 6 quadrillion gallons.It is 20% of world's fresh water supply. The lake water can fill entire north america by 3.5 ft. There are three falls. Front one is American Falls;middle one is Bridal Veil Falls. The back one belongs to Cananda- Horse shoe falls. The average flow rate is 0.75 million gallons per sec during peak season. 90% goes to the horse shoe fallas and the remaing to two other falls.Flow rate will vary depending upon how much water is taken for power generation by hydroelectric companies upstream. During day time 50% of the flow goes to the companies and it is 75% at night. US and Canadian governments have regulations to make sure there is adequate flow ( 0.75 million gallon per sec) for enjoyment of public during peak tourist hours. Niagara Falls fall to a height of 170 ft; water is also 170 ft deep down below. Another view of the three Falls A boat called "Maid of the mist" takes the visitors closer to the Falls. To get to the boat we have to go down 170 ft (the distance traversed by the Falls). The structure of the observation tower with the elevator is massive. The original name for Maid of the Mist was Lelawala of Indian legend. It is believed her spirit lives in Niagara Falls. The current boat is in service since 1846. It started as a steam boat and now run by two 350-hp diesel engines. It carries 600 passengers. Close up View of American and Bridal Veil Falls from our boat. Close up view of Horse shoe falls from the boat. Rainbow bridge connects US and Canada. Niagara river flows to Lake Ontario. We visited Whirlpool Sate park. Water from Niagara falls and niagara river encounters an obstruction (gorge) and turns direction. Turbulence is created and water spins at a speed of 30-35 miles per hour. This is the whirl pool. The pool is 125 ft deep. Water spins at a speed of 30 mph in counter clock wise direction. The speed, turbulence and power of the pool is the result of 0.75 million gallons per second gaining speed through a 300 ft converging geometry of the gorge. Water also falls down by 52 ft within a mile of travel resulting in gain of speed. Many dare devils lost their lives trying to survive the rapids. In 1861, the maid of the mist, captained by Joel Robinson survived the trip through the whirlpool. However Robinson gave up his career later due to this frightening experience. Internet image.Several attempted to make use of the force of water. Two successful scientists are George Wesinghouse and Nikola Tesla. Internet image.Westinghouse made turbines using Tesla's patents. The key is alternating current. One can generate high voltage current at the source and then step down using transformers at the sites of usage. Thomas Alva Edison did not foresee the potential of AC. Instead he promoted his DC distribution system; thereby undermining his former employee Tesla and his AC current. Internet schematic.A schematic shows water from a dam drives a turbine, generates electricty and transported by power lines. The hydroelectic power generation was a remarkable technical achievement. This is the Robert Moses Power Plant, viewed from our bus. This plant along with others in the area produces 2.4 gigawatt electricity; 24 million 100 watt bulbs worth of energy or 1.2 million single family homes consuming 2 KWH energy; The technological achievement is an example of hydroelectric power to the whole world. The war of currents between Edison and Tesla ended in favor of Tesla. Edison admitted later that one of his greatest mistakes was to underestimate Tesla as a dandy and dreamer and underestimating alternate current as an efficient way to distribute electricity. Fort Niagara is located where the Niagara river joins Lake Ontario. The fort represents the struggle to control North America by French, British, Continental Army and the Native Indians. Internet image.Aerial view of Ft.Niagara. The area of the fort is 250 acres.It is at the point where Niagara river enters Lake Ontario. Water was the key transportation route in early days and it was important for occupying forces to have a building at the critical junction to control entry into North America. French built the fort in 1678 AD convincing the Native Americans that it was a House of Peace. The control of fort changed hands ever since- from French to British; from British to US. Native Indians became the pawns in the power play.Ft.Niagara is a US National Historic Landmark and is also in the registry of National Historic Places. Gateway and draw bridge to the fort. Notice the hanging of Royal crest. The royal crest belongs to King Louis XV of France. His son who was his heir apparent died suddenly and his grandson became King Louis XVI. He was later guillotined during French revolution. South block house. British designed the roof in such a way that it can be dismantled easily before an attack. The house accommodated 20 soldiers. The castle is the center piece of Ft.Niagara. It was called French Castle. It is 3 story building and housed 40 soldiers. Canon was the power to defeat. Light Niagara was built on top of the French Castle in 1872 and moved later to the current location. It simply warned the ships not to come near the fort. It is now an inactive lighthouse. An 18 ft bronze cross known as Father Millet Cross is a memorial. It was originally erected by Pierre Millet in wood to seek the mercy of God for the plague stricken men inside the fort during the winter of 1687. Lake Ontario, the final resting place of Niagara is in the back ground.Ft. Niagara lost its importance after the construction of Erie Canal and now it is a State Park and Museum. Watkins Glen is a gorge (narrow valley with a water stream running through it) in the finger lake area. It is 150 miles south east of Buffalo/Niagara Falls. Gorge is formed by the action of Glen Creek on various types of stone. The creek simply eroded and formed a hanging valley. The gorge is 400 ft deep. We are eetering from top and walk 2 miles to reach the bottom where Watkins Glen village is located. There are 19 water falls on the way.The gorge trail has over 800 steps . We are walking on gorge trail. Glen creek flows in the side. It is interesting to see the opening/valley/gorge formed by the quiet creek over a period of thousands of years.We have climbed down at least 100 ft. The cliffs are 200 ft high. Internet photo.Gorge trail. Internet photo.Turn around in gorge trail. Rainbow Falls. Mostly Rainbow appears in the summer afternoons. Cavern Cascade. We are behind the water fall. Rainbow Falls with pothole pool.Mark Twain commented on it in the year 1871-"If one desires to be so stirred by a poem of nature wrought in the happily commingled graces of picturesque rocks, glimpsed distances, foliage, color, shifting lights and shadows, and falling water, that the tears come into his eyes so potent is the charm exerted, he need not go away from America to enjoy such an experience........The Rainbow Fall in Watkins Glen.....could challenge the Old World and the New to produce its peer"Elmira is a nearby town. Mark Twain and his family stayed in the summer home of his sister-in-law there. He wrote a part or all of Huckleberry Finn in that home. People say American literature begins with Huck Finn. Elmira is the final resting place (buried) of Mark Twain and his family.