Do you want a dry martini with your dry Niagara falls tour that explores the riverbed? Even as Red Bull remembers Niagara falls’ frozen waterfalls with a new contest, tourism officials in the area are trying to figure out the best way to market the new experience provided by the drained waters of the American Falls. The ideas may be all dry, but they are hoping visitor numbers won’t be dried up by the lack of the waterfalls. Instead, it’s hoped the dry falls can offer a once-in-a-lifetime experience to draw the crowds.
New York State announced the plans to run Niagara Falls dry by shutting off the waterfalls surrounding a 115-year-old stone bridge used to access Goat Island. The bridge is reported to be deteriorating, so it’s unsafe for visitors and workers alike who need access to the utilities. John H. Percy Jr., who heads the agency charged with drawing visitors to the Falls, believes the engineering project will not begin for another two to three years, but this portion of Niagara Falls is likely to be dried up for a maximum of four to six years.
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Percy told Buffalo News he believes this unnatural event will cause visitors to flock to Niagara Falls tours in increasing numbers.
“I really do believe it has that appeal that people will want to see it,” he said, noting how social media caused a recent spike in interest. “I think we all have to work collectively to make this work. It just shows you that this has that mystique behind it that I think will garner worldwide attention.”
The dry river bed offers potential for some interesting discoveries. The last time geologists dried Niagara Falls to study the American side of the waterfalls for erosion, they literally found a skeleton in Niagara’s closet.
“It’s the nature of curiosity. You want to see what’s underneath, to see its skeleton,” said Michelle Kratts, the former Niagara Falls city historian. “[The last time], something like skeletons were found. Workers on that project discovered two bodies when the water was diverted. They also found millions of coins, carrying them out in buckets to deter people from going out onto the rocks.”
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One important message the agency wants to get out is that they will not run Niagara Falls dry completely. The water will be diverted away from the American Falls for months, but the Niagara River will still be offering the usual spectacular waterfalls around Horseshoe Falls.
“We’re not losing the full-water experience,” Percy said.
This means the Maid of the Mist boat rides will still be operating as usual during the dry spell. But what has tourism agencies excited is the special tours provided by the dry river bed. Over in Canada, Niagara Parks Commission Chairwoman Janice Thomson said this sight should draw crowds like the frozen waterfalls of 2014 and 2015.
“It would be similar to the ‘Frozen Falls’ phenomenon, it gets people’s imagination (going). They would have to come and see it,” Thomson said.
While there’s still years until we can see dry waterfalls, Red Bull wants everyone to remember the frozen Niagara Falls. Ice climber Will Gadd climbed up the frozen Horseshoe Falls last year, and a Red Bull contest is celebrating the one-year anniversary of the unique event by offering the Frozen Falls Contest, a “chance to win a private climbing experience and winter tour of Niagara Falls with Gadd.”
[Image via Christian Pondella/Red Bull Content Pool]