February 26, 2014

A stupendous work of nature – Niagara Falls

Many have marveled at the beauty and raw power of Niagara Falls upon seeing it for the first time. However, upon first look William “Tiger” Dunlop was not awestruck when viewing the natural wonder for the first time.

In July 1814 as the War of 1812 raged in the Niagara, Dunlop was in York (Toronto) about to make his way to the Niagara. Dunlop arrived in the Niagara Region at Butler’s Barracks just in time to receive numerous casualties from the Battle of Lundy’s Lane. Dunlop treated over 200 wounded with only a hospital sergeant to assist him. After Dunlop finished with the carnage from Lundy’s Lane, he took a few days off to visit Table Rock and Niagara Falls.
Niagara Falls, 1840

Upon reaching Table Rock, Dunlop remarked, “My first sight of the Falls most woefully disappointed me … it was not on that scale of magnificence I had been led to expect.” Dunlop sat on the edge of the rock with his legs dangling over for a brief contemplation. He noticed some fishermen at the bottom walking near the water and noticed how small they looked; Dunlop gained a new appreciation for the height of the Falls.

Next, Dunlop attempted to make his way down to the bottom of the Falls; however, it was in a less dignified manner. He unslung his sword and attempted to make his way down when he fell and rolled over half a dozen times before regaining his footing. When Dunlop reached the bottom, he undertook a series of experiments to determine the width of the Falls. First, he threw stones across the Falls, but they quickly dropped. Next, Dunlop acquired a native bow but his arrows were no more successful than the stones. After these experiments, Dunlop realized: 

“it was not till after I looked at the Falls in every aspect that I convinced myself that they were such a stupendous work of nature as they really were. The fact is, there is nothing at hand to compare them with, and a man must see them often, and from every different point of view, to have any proper conception of the nature of them.”

Dunlop came to recognize the beauty, power and magnificence of Niagara Falls.

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