In 1969, the American Falls, part of the world-famous Niagara Falls, were turned off for the first time in 12,000 years by the US Army Corps of Engineers. The reason for this unusual occurrence was that engineers were concerned about a growing pile of boulders at the bottom of the falls, which could potentially turn them into rapids. To assess the situation, they decided to dam the Niagara River by dumping 27,000 tons of rock into it.
During the six months that the American Falls were turned off, engineers discovered that the boulders at the bottom of the falls were necessary to support the face of the falls. They also found two bodies and numerous coins, which had been thrown into the falls by tourists over the years. Unfortunately, it was not feasible to remove all of the rock.
After their assessment, the engineers decided to unleash the river once again, allowing the water to gush down over the American Falls. The event was described by a tourist as “taming” the falls and then ‘unleashing’ them.”
The American Falls, along with the larger Horseshoe Falls, make up Niagara Falls, a natural wonder that attracts millions of visitors each year. The falls are located on the Niagara River, which serves as a border between the United States and Canada. While the turning off of the American Falls was a rare event, it served an important purpose in allowing engineers to assess and understand the geological structure of the falls, ensuring that it remains a breathtaking sight for generations to come.
At some future point, the US and Canada will once again be faced with the same question: should they take action to preserve Niagara Falls or simply let nature take its course? Despite efforts to slow its deterioration, the falls continue to regress each year. In approximately 15,000 years, the edge of the cliff will come into contact with the soft shale of the riverbed, at which point natural processes will take over and outdo any human interventions. Eventually, Niagara Falls will erode and vanish completely.