Proposal would temporarily shut off Niagara Falls on American side

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WKBW) - Millions come from all over the world to witness the wonder that is Niagara Falls. In several years’ time, they may come for a different, temporary attraction: the Falls without any water.

The New York State Parks Department is in the very early stages of designing a proposal that would divert the water from the Falls.

Jim and Sharon Chamberlin remember when Niagara Falls went waterless in 1969. “They just put the bridge across of the top of the island here from the shore and shut it right down. It was amazing,” Jim said.

The Chamberlins aren't the only ones who feel that way. Gary Walters posted this video to YouTube of the historic moment when he witnessed the Falls high and dry. Back then, it was done to study the effects of erosion.

This time around, the parks department needs to divert the water to make repairs to the two old stone bridges offering access to Goat Island.

“To divert the water you'd be able to see the Falls itself. The bare rock and everything. I think it would be an interesting thing to see,” Sharon said.

A spokesman for the parks department said currently, there's no funding for the project. It's simply getting its ducks in a row so that down the line, it could be a possibility again.

Those we spoke to are supportive of dewatering the Falls.

“It's kind of sad that it will be because people won't be able to come and see it and they won't be able to see how pretty it is. Some people say it's spiritual when they come and see it. But I guess they have to do what they have to do,” said Kalie Pries.

“The American side really needs updating compared to the Canadian side,” said Valerie Beach. “I think the updated stone walkway and new stuff will ultimately boost the economy.”

The parks department is considering three proposals. Two would temporarily shut down the American side of the Falls.

A pubic hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, January 27, at 5 p.m. in the Grand Foyer and Grand Ballroom at the Conference Center Niagara Falls, 101 Old Falls Street, in Niagara Falls.

Participants will be able to check out displays and talk with the staff before a formal presentation at 6:30 p.m.

Oral and written comments will be accepted. For more information, click here.



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