Niagara Falls Ice Bridges

Mon@rch sent me some really cool photos of Niagara Falls Ice Bridges a while back, and I’ve been wondering about this phenomenon ever since. Well, I finally found my answer while reading Nature’s Niagara, A Walk on the Wild Side, by Paul Gromosiak. Yes, I could have looked it up on the Internet, too, and now that I know about it, I find tons of stuff out there about it.

Hokey, where to start. Mon@rch says he doesn’t know where the photos came from, so I can’t ask or credit the source. There’s a great online collection from the Niagara Falls Public Library called Historic Niagara Digital Collections in case you want to search for more photos.




Amazing, huh? I’ve been to Niagara Falls in the middle of winter and seen the ice build up, but nothing like this, nothing that I can even imagine wanting to walk across. But I’ll let the book tell you why. And no, it isn’t because of global warming.

From pages 74 & 76 of the above mentioned book:

Ice Bridges. Nearly every winter ice floes from Lake Erie go over Niagara Falls and mass together in the gorge from shore to shore forming a bridge of ice over the liquid water.

On March 29, 1848, gusts of wind dammed up the Niagara River at its source, nearly drying up the falls for a day. People on both sides of the river were astounded and humbled. It was possible to frolic on the riverbed where no person had ever been.

After the dam broke up, the ice formed a bridge from just below the falls to Lake Ontario. It was possible for people [to] go to (sic) from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Youngstown by walking or riding a horse. Ice boulders as high as 50 feet (15 meters) did a lot [of] damage to structures along the shores of the lower Niagara River.

Until a fatal accident in 1912, people were permitted to go on the ice bridges. In January of 1938, the ice in the gorge was able to knock down the Honeymoon Bridge.

The ice bridges have been less impressive since the 1960s when Ontario Hydro and the New York Power Authority began installing the ice boom at the source of the Niagara River. The boom is a chain of floating barrels across much of the river which controls the movement of ice floes from Lake Erie.

For more on this phenomenon from Niagara Parks you can click here. Alrighty then. I don’t think I would have walked on that ice back then, no matter how thick it was! Would you?


13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. mon@rch
    Aug 05, 2007 @ 10:28:52

    Very interesting for sure and I know that I wouldn’t want to be under that when it broke! glad that someone junk mailed them to me and I looked at them!


  2. kate
    Aug 05, 2007 @ 10:54:55

    These are cool photos. I think it would have been fun walking across … but then I live in a place where ice for months is the norm. As long as it is thick enough, sure.


  3. Ruth
    Aug 05, 2007 @ 13:51:06

    There is no way you would get me on an ice bridge or even walking on the lower Niagara River. I hike along the escarpment frequently, but the edges of the cliffs make my knees weak and my stomach queasy. I really don’t like heights. These pictures and the story are very interesting though!


  4. naturegirl
    Aug 05, 2007 @ 16:52:55

    Truley amazing! I am very close to Niagara so next time I am looking out at the falls I shall remeber this image!
    I would NOT be brave to stand on the top….I would NOT be out in that COLD! I am one of those ~snowbirds~ that travels to warmer climates in winter!
    Great images nature woman! Thanks for stopping by my blog! hugs NG


  5. Sherry
    Aug 05, 2007 @ 17:58:38

    So very interesting!
    I would not have walked on them either!
    Wonderful photos.


  6. Pam
    Aug 05, 2007 @ 20:13:25

    Mon@rch – I’m glad you mailed them to me because they’re so cool looking. I wouldn’t want to be under this either when it broke!
    Kate – Maybe if the ice were thick enough but I still don’t think I would walk on this like these people did!
    Ruth – I don’t mind heights, what I do mind is the intensity and power of water. Walking the escarpment would be enough for me, too!
    Naturegirl – Imagine people walking along ice while there’s that river underneath, that’s enough to keep me away! There’s too much power there, for sure. I love your blog! Hugs to you, too!
    Sherry – Thanks, glad I’m not the only one who wouldn’t walk on this! Mon@rch knows I like history, natural and otherwise so that’s why he sent these photos to me.


  7. laurie
    Aug 06, 2007 @ 00:33:05

    I probably would have. I’m kind of dumb that way.

    Very interesting post and amazing pictures. Thanks so much.



  8. Susan Gets Native
    Aug 06, 2007 @ 01:06:00

    No. Won’t do it.

    Well, let me think.


    Really. No.


  9. Mary
    Aug 06, 2007 @ 10:10:22

    Wow. Not me, either! No way. No how. Fascinating stuff, Pam!


  10. James
    Sep 08, 2007 @ 08:17:55

    Very interesting article, thanks for the great read.


  11. Pam
    Sep 08, 2007 @ 10:33:16

    Laurie – You probably would have gotten some great photos while walking across it!

    Susan – Really, no, me neither!

    Mary – Me neither! Thanks Mary!

    James – you’re welcome!


  12. Jan
    Feb 19, 2009 @ 15:17:13

    In all probability the first image came from the Niagara Falls Historic Digital Collection. In the record we state “This image began showing up on the internet in approximately 2003. It is not known where the original resides ; although it is suspected that this is a composite of other images it should be noted that although this may be a hoax, other images certainly are not ; although the ice is not as thick as it was pre the installation of the ice boom across Lake Erie both falls have frozen ; the ice bridge is at the base of the falls – people did walk on that section until the early 1900s.” We do believe based on the perspective of the image that it is probably a Photo Shop job.

    This url will take you directly to over 400 images of Niagara Falls and it’s ice bridges.



  13. Rakesh Singh-Trip Adviser
    Jan 16, 2012 @ 09:54:39

    It is really a life time experiance. I think to visit Niagara Falls in winter season is something different from the other seasons because at this time you cant enjoy the Maid of the Mist one of the major attraction among the Niagara Falls but a unique view of falls you see here that is a large statue of Niagaar Falls fully cover with the white ice. That can seen only in the winter season from(september to January).


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