Who Owns Niagara Falls?

Did you know that the Niagara Falls consists of three different waterfalls? They are the Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls. And what’s even more interesting is that the Falls are divided between two countries – Canada and the US.

Who Owns Niagara Falls?

The American and Bridal Veil Falls are entirely in the US, the Horseshoe Falls flows in both countries although a major portion is in Canada.

Among the three, the Horseshoe Falls is the biggest as well as the more popular tourist attraction. The international boundary line has split the falls in such a way that about two thirds of the Horseshoe Falls are in Ontario, Canada and one-third in New York, US.

Boundary Line Drawn in 1819

The boundary line and the maps demarcating the Horseshoe Falls were drawn in 1819 based on the Treaty of Ghent. But there have been disputes about the same and it is has been a point of contention between the two countries. When the boundary line came into existence, almost 90% of the Horseshoe Falls was in Canada. The north-eastern end of the Horseshoe Falls lay around Terrapin Rocks which was near Goat Island in New York, US. The portion between the rocks and the island was filled, connecting the two, and forming Terrapin Point in 1955. The United States Army Corps of Engineers also filled in more land in the 1980s and built diversion dams.

Will Change Due to Erosion

Currently, according to the International Boundary Commission, about 300 to 400 feet of the Horseshoe Falls are located on the American side. As the crest of the Horseshoe Falls has a total width of more than 2200 feet, this means that most of the falls is located in Canadian territory. The latest maps on both sides also show a major portion of the falls in Canada. In the future, the US-Canada boundary lines near the falls will continue to alter on account of erosion. While erosion is not an overnight process, the change has been happening over hundreds of years. The rate of erosion has slowed down a bit, in part due to the diversion of water for hydroelectric power generation. But erosion still continues to take place. This will result in the crest of the falls extending further into American territory. Natural erosion and construction can change the area of the Horseshoe Falls in the future and this may require further clarity on the boundary lines.

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