New York

Let Nature Do the Teaching – Niagara Falls

While learning math, English, and science lessons is crucial to our homeschools, sometimes we need to take a step back and let nature do the teaching.

Case in point: Niagara Falls.

This marvel is not just an amazing natural phenomenon either. It’s also JAM-PACKED with interesting facts and has been involved in the history of exploration, industry, and even electricity!

Oh, and did we mention that it’s located in scenic Upstate, NY? Gotta love that foliage!

Here’s the skinny on Niagara Falls for all of you who know the name but want a little bit more information than just “it’s a bunch of water going over some rocks”!

A Natural Wonder of Epic Proportions!

Niagara Falls is an incredible site to see …and hear …and feel! And while not technically a wonder of the world, it sure should be! (Make some room, Victoria Falls!)

Niagara Falls is a cataract between the United States and Canada that is located on the Niagara River–a river that serves as a drainage “pipe” from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario.

There are two main areas of the falls (along with the “small” addition of the Bridal Veil Falls nestled between them). The main two sections are situated on either side of Goat Island:

Horseshoe Falls. Located on the Canadian side of the river, this larger bend of waterfalls is by far the most iconic view of Niagara Falls. The lip of the “horseshoe” shape extends for an incredible 2600 feet over which a mesmerizing 600,000 gallons of water dumps every second, crashing down well over 150 ft before it rejoins the river.

The American Falls. Not as big or well know, the American falls is a second section of the waterfall that flows, you guessed it, on the American side! With an edge a little bit over 1000 feet long, this section of the falls dumps 150,000 gallons of water per second down onto a downright mythological-looking heap of crushed boulders.

All together these make up the amazing spectacle that is Niagara Falls.

A Little Bit of History

While native Americans certainly were aware of the falls for time out of mind, the first European that found the falls was a French priest named Father Louis Hennepin–who stumbled on the falls during a trip in 1678.

Now, we’ve all “stumbled on things” before, but this has to be categorized on a whole other level, akin to Francisco Coronado’s men setting eyes on the Grand Canyon or Balboa catching a site of the Pacific Ocean. I mean, for goodness sake, the man accidentally found… Niagara Falls!

Let the Tourists Come!

Being so close to the East Coast, it was only a matter of time before the Falls would become a hot spot, and with the arrival of railroads in the 19th century, the area boomed.

Did You Know? Napoleon Bonaparte’s younger brother, Jerome, and his new, American bride even chose this spot in 1804 as their honeymoon destination. And if you’re wondering, yes, that is the traditional beginning of Niagara Falls as a popular honeymoon destination, too!


Industry. Let’s Get a Good, Hard Day’s Work Out of This Thing!

Niagara Falls is not just a popular tourist destination, though. It’s also attractive because it’s raw power. So it should come as no surprise that the area has also become a hub of industrial activity over the years.

Did You Know? It was here that Nicola Tesla first used an alternating current induction motor to run power all the way to nearby Buffalo. You can find out more about it here …or by visiting the Niagara Gorge Discover Center yourself! It’s right next to the falls and above the Schoellkopf Power Station.

Daredevils, Tightropes, and Barrels

Anyone with kids knows that something high needs to be crossed in epic, dangerous fashion. It’s something that we seem to be born with (…and also something that keeps us moms constantly on our toes!).

Niagara Falls is no exception to this. For centuries, the Falls have been attracting daredevils of all kinds, most recently the famed thrill-seeker Nik Wallenda. You can see him crossing in this video!



Did You Know? Sam Patch was a famous daredevil who jumped off of Niagara Falls not once, but twice in October of 1829! You can read all about this 19th-century stuntman here!

Join US at At Niagara Falls!

O.K., so Niagara Falls is pretty cool, right? But did you also know that our next HEART (Homeschool Enrichment Adventure Road Trip) trip is actually going to be going there?

That’s right! We’ll be staying in an upscale hotel in downtown Niagara Falls (within walking distance of the Falls!).

We’ll also be riding the Maid of the Mist, visiting the Falls Observation Tower and national park, and going on other mini-adventures like exploring locks and the Erie Canal, learning about the Underground Railroad, overnighting in a War of 1812 fort, and more!

Oh, and zip-lining over the Erie Canal, too!

All of this is wrapped up in an incredibly affordable package. You can see all of the details (and register before the deadline!) here.

The Beauty of the Falls

No matter what time of year it is, Niagara Falls is a breathtaking wonder that everyone should try to see at least once!

It’s a beautiful reminder for us all that life is made up of huge adventures just waiting to be found. We just have one request:

Find your next adventure with us on our next HEART trip!

We’d LOVE to have you and your family join us!


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About the author


Trish is one of the owners of Hip Homeschool Moms. She has been married to her best friend, David, for 22 years and they have three sons (ages 19, 17 and 15). Trish is from the coast of North Carolina, but they now live in rural West Tennessee on a 40+ acre farm. She has been homeschooling since 2009 and her homeschool style leans towards a Montessori approach with a heavy emphasis on hands-on learning. Trish’s family is Messianic and they love studying the Scriptures, learning Hebrew and growing in their faith and walk daily. In her spare time, Trish loves to travel, write, work in their garden and can regularly be found trying to learn something new, modeling that learning is indeed a life-long endeavor!


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