Frozen Niagara Falls Photographs
Series of photographs circulating via email are claimed to depict Niagara Falls frozen over in the year 1911.
The photographs are genuine although the specified date of 1911 may be inaccurate.
(Submitted, February 2007)
Subject: Fw: 1911 Photo of Niagara Falls]
This interesting set of photographs of a frozen Niagara Falls circulates via email and has been posted to various blogs and online forums. There is no reason to doubt the authenticity of the photographs. While the falls almost never freeze solid, it is not uncommon for mounds of ice to form a thick crust that covers the running water beneath. Strange and beautiful ice formations can be formed as mist and falling water freeze over.
In colder winters, the crust of ice can even reach from bank to bank and extend for miles down the river. In earlier times, visitors often walked out on these "ice bridges" to view the falls as depicted in the first image above. However, in 1912, an ice bridge broke up and three visitors fell to their deaths. Henceforth, walking out on the ice bridges was considered too dangerous.
While the photographs are real, the specified date of 1911 for the first image is questionable and the photographs were not all taken at the same time. Copies of the images can be found on the Niagara Falls Public Library
website and elsewhere on the Internet. The following notes provide more information about each image in turn:
This image is displayed on
the Niagara Falls Public Library website with the title "American Falls Frozen Over With People on the Ice". According to information accompanying the image, it began circulating on the Internet in 2003 but the original source and date is not known. The image is also featured on
Niagara Falls live.com, and its position in the text suggests that it may be intended to show an event in 1848 when the river actually stopped flowing completely for a few hours due to an ice jam upstream. However, it is unclear if the image depicts the actual event described, or is only used as a general illustration of an ice bridge.
This image is also included
on the Niagara Falls Public Library and is titled "Great mass of frozen spray and ice-bound American Falls Niagara", with a date of 1902. It originally formed part of a stereo image
, a popular medium at the time.
This image was apparently derived from an original color postcard
titled "Cave of the Winds in Winter Niagara Falls" which was mailed in August 1911. Exactly when the image was created is unclear. The image is also featured
on the website of Ellis House, a Bed and Breakfast at Niagara Falls.
This image seems to be a cropped version, of a photograph
titled "View of the American Falls in Winter" that was taken in 1936. Notes with the uncropped image explain "The miraculous result of a cold winter, the American Falls completely froze in 1936. Notice the tiny human forms at the base of the Falls giving an idea of the density of the ice."
Many other wonderful photographs of Niagara Falls, past and present, are available for viewing in the image database
of the Niagara Falls Public Library.
Last updated: May 15, 2013
First published: February 28, 2007
Written by Brett M. Christensen