New York State Plans to 'Shut Off' Part of Niagara Falls
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New York State Plans to 'Shut Off' Part of Niagara Falls

US and Canadian landmark Niagra Falls
Brian Lawrence / Getty
US and Canadian landmark Niagra Falls
Brian Lawrence / Getty

While millions of tourists flock to Niagara Falls to soak up the breathtaking views of the monumental natural wonder now, things could soon change as a plan is being floated to dry it up—at least, temporarily.

The New York State Parks Department just released a proposal to "turn off" or dewater the American and Bridal Falls—two of the three waterfalls that make up the upstate behemoth. Two 115-year-old bridges that stretch over the Niagara River and connect mainland Niagara Falls with Goat Island are in desperate need of attention, which the Parks Department says can't be done unless the area is dry. The plan calls for water to be temporarily diverted towards the Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side of the border, while work is being done to replace the bridges and construct new support systems and piers.

Niagara Falls dewatered
Courtesy of Niagara Falls Ontario Public Library

A similar event took place in the summer and fall of 1969 when the United States Army Corps of Engineers dewatered the Falls to study the impact of erosion. The riverbed surface was cleaned and loose rocks were removed from the face of the Falls, but no such work has taken place since.

Niagara Falls dewatered
Courtesy of Niagara Falls Ontario Public Library

It will be at least a few years before any work is done as diverting upwards of 75,000 gallons of water that flows over the face of the American and Bridal Falls every second is no small feat. The plans call for the construction of a cofferdam—a technique that uses large boulders to divert massive amounts of water—at a total cost of between $25 and $35 million.

Sean Flynn is the Senior Editorial Producer at Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @BuffaloFlynn.

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