From the website:
John Stedman – an early pioneer and miller – kept a herd of goats on the island. Upon returning to the island after the terrible winter of 1780, Stedman found all but one of the goats had died; thus giving the island its name.
The preservation of the island as parkland is due to the early efforts of Augustus Porter, who in the middle 19th century recognized the long-term value of the falls as a tourist attraction. Porter purchased the island and later allowed a group of Tuscarora Native Americans to live on the island and sell their crafts to the tourists who came to the falls by stagecoach and early railroads. In spite of pressure, Porter refused to tame the environment on the island. In 1817, he built a toll bridge to the island for tourists. It was swept away by ice, so another was built the following year downstream. Basil Hall called it "one of the most singular pieces of engineering in the world". Almost seven hundred feet long, it soon became the best-travelled walkway in the region.
In 1885 the island was included in the Niagara Reservation State Park which is the oldest state park in the U.S.
Sources: Pierre Berton: Niagara, A History of the Falls.
Fondest memory: It has to be exploring the park in light drizzle and the up and close and a very personal experience with falls and rapids.
This camera on the tower at the Sheraton Hotel overlooks the falls so you can see them any time night or day, summer ot winter.
Favorite thing: Wow this is a Tiring Drive and It took about 10 hours and a few stops to gas stations for us to arrive at niagara falls from woodhaven in queens. the distance is about 422 miles and it gets confusing at times since there are so many turnpikes from the freeways here (there are no turnpikes in the west coast), we got lost near syracuse and also in scranton in pennsylvania but eventually got to niagara falls via the I-290W and I-190N.
Driving Regulations in Canada
The minimum age for driving in Canada is 16. A valid driver’s license from any country is required to operate a motor vehicle in Canada. You must also carry the car’s registration information. The speed limit in Canada is posted in kilometers per hour. Please note that speed limits vary depending on the type of road. The speed limit on most Canadian highways is 100 km per hour (60 miles per hour), and 50 km per hour on city streets. (1 mile is 1.609 kilometers)
Please note: It is mandatory for all drivers and passengers of a motor vehicle to use seat belts. It is also mandatory for all motorcyclists to wear helmets while driving. Operating a motor vehicle, including boats, while under the influence of alcohol or illegal substances is illegal in Canada.
Visitors from the United States currently do not need a passport to enter into Canada. US citizens will however, need proof of citizenship. A US birth certificate, Certificate of Citizenship, or Certificate of Naturalization, are all considered valid documentation. You will also need valid photo identification such as a drivers licence.
Visitors from outside of North America must have a valid passport to enter into Canada. A valid VISA may also be required usually for Non-EU countries except Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Singapore.
Please note when travelling with children you should carry valid identification for each child. Adults travelling with children other than their own must have written consent from the parent or guardian stating that they have permission to be travelling with the children.
Visitors bringing their pets with them will require documentation as well. Dogs and cats that are at least three months old need valid certificates from their veterinarian confirming that they have been vaccinated against rabies within the last three years. Dogs and cats that are younger than three months old do not need a rabies vaccination certificate to enter into Canada.
Favorite thing: I visited Niagara Falls in July of 2003 I stayed on the American side of the Falls. Seeing all the great hotels and casinos across the river was a huge tease. The American side is great for sight seeing but not for dining and having a great night out. The two top restaurants are Hard Rock cafe and the restaurant at the Seneca Niagara Falls Casino and that says a lot.
All of the best views and major points of interest on the American side of Niagara Falls are contained within the Niagara Falls State park. I was interested to learn that Niagara Falls is America's oldest state park, yet for some reason I could not find it listed in the Virtual Tourist database.
Niagara Falls State Park is a fascinating place, with a rich history. Among the attractions you will find here are:
Maid of the Mist Boat Rides
Cave of the Winds
Nikola Tesla Memorial
Great Lakes Garden
Niagara Gorge Discovery Center
Aquarium of Niagara
Niagara Scenic Trolley
Niagara Falls State Park
It would be a mistake to rush right by this Visitor Center on your way to see Niagara Falls. Here you can get all the details about the many things to see and do at Niagara Falls, as well as learn much about the history and geology of these magnificent falls.
The kids, and adults too, will love the Discovery Center, featuring fossils and mineral specimens and a multi-screen theatre presentation showing how the Falls have evolved over the past 12,000 years.
In addition to the interpretative displays you can also shop for unique souvenirs, books and gifts inspired by the beauty of Niagara Falls. Naturally, I added another refrigerator magnet to my collection - GRIN!
Niagara Falls State Park
Favorite thing: To me this is really for the kids to see better, me I don't pay for the view, I'll just take a picture and ZOOM in! But the kids seen to like these things for some reason so give them a quarter and a little joy.
The tolls to go over Rainbow Bridge into Canada is $2.50 US dollar or $3.50 Canadian. Make sure you have your Drivers license ready if you are an adult and birth certificates for the kids in hand. Each time we went over we got asked totally different questions, there seemed to be NO standard at all, what is your business in Canada, how long are you staying, where are you going, do you have any guns, is there any one else in the truck ( my windows are VERY DARK ) stuff like that, but they would aways throw some stupid questions in, they were so stupid I don't every remember.
This photo is from the balloon ride I took at 400 feet up.
Favorite thing: Currance exchange is really no big deal, you can stop by the Duty Free store, or on the Candain side just over the bridge is a currance exchange both. There really is not much of a need to do this unless you want to play with Canadian money because they except both at just about any where you go. There can be a down side to exchanging if you are American and bring it back home to your home state because your bank like mine may charge you to exchange it back. I made the mistake of forgetting to use it all up and brought back about $35.00 or so and my bank wants to charge me a $35.00 fee to exchange my $35.00 for a total of $70.00 which I fine just stupid! So now I have another souvener! Don't let this happen to you!
Favorite thing: This is really the only TRUE visitors center on the NY side, it is located in the park. I say the only true visitor center because most of the souvenir store try to call them selves a visitor center but it's a trap to get you in to buy their goods. To us a visitor center has INFORMATION not souvenirs, just a heads up! You will find a lot of good info about the falls here, tours and things to do.
Favorite thing: Check out the Duty Free store on the USA side of Rainbow Bridge, the prices are good and plenty of gift, shirts, smokes,& liquour to choose from. We found some very nice t-shirts to bring back for the family at a good price, had a hard time finding any at other souvenir shops worth picking up. I also got a few bottles of Ice Wine for Terry & a botlle of good Cognac for me at great prices. You must keep in mind that if you buy at the Duty Free they will ask you a few questions and one is that you must stay over night in Canada to get these good prices ir you may be taxed, this worried us because we were staying on the USA side and had NO plans of staying over night in Canada. So we drove over had breakfast in Canada and came right back and worried the whole time but al they asked was did we have any thing to declare: answer yes 2 bottles of wine, they said OK move along and didn't even check. So just be careful and don't look guilty.
We never would have noticed this guy if not for one of the pleasant Niagara Falls employees pointing it out to us.
Apparently a man had obtained permission from the Canadian Government to walk a tight rope between the Casino and the hotel shown in the picture.
Oh, and he didn't fall.
Fondest memory: This is one of many crazy stunts that the Falls inspire. I've heard stories of people going over Horseshoe Falls in barrels - some lived and some died. The oldest was in his 90s and the youngest was only 7, both of whom survived.
Another story was related about a man who actually walked a tightrope across the Falls from the U.S. side to the Canadian side. When the novelty wore off, he hoisted his boss onto his shoulders and carried him across. He had to stop seven times as his boss was quite a load. There are better ways to get a raise.
Rainbow bridge is the border with Canada.
I walked across it and enjoyed the view.
Post 9/11 security standards make it a bit harder to enter the U.S.A.: it is suggested that you bring your passport rather than just your driver's license, or have your license and a birth certificate. The good times when you could cross the border easily if you were a U.S. citizen are gone.
And be ready to "pay toll to the U.S.A.": 50 cents.