[Please click on any photo to enlarge! ] above: Nov.2, 2010 - by looking at the far shore on the American side, note how much the water level in the Niagara River has dropped; this is due to the water being diverted (from upriver, before the Falls) for winter power generation. The drop happens rather quickly, this year it took effect around the end of October.
The verdant summer green of the trees has made way for the colours of autumn, revealing more clearly the Adams tunnel outfall (seen at the centre right), and, further to its right, the old footings of the Honeymoon Bridge which once stood here until a massive ice jam pushed the bridge into the gorge in 1938.
It is interesting to note that, although the Niagara River here flows from the right to the left [south-to-north] the discharge from this tunnel habitually travels to the right, to be then pushed back, as well as pushed farther out into the river's center, at a point just about past the Observation tower (which is off-screen to the right).
Interestingly, as the river's gradual icing-over occurs, it becomes evident that there are three "bands" of flow here:
- there is a narrow band of flow which shows itself along the Canadian side, and which runs right to left; the current here flows slightly slower than it does in the centre of the river;
- there is the main band, which is the deep center part of the river, and which flows the fastest;
- and there is a band of current which shows itself along the American shore; but what's interesting here is that this band happens to flow left to right along the American shore, in sort of a confused reverse-current within the same river.
This quirk of the Niagara River starts just north the Rainbow Bridge, and runs back along the American shore, to about the base of the American Falls.
[see my YouTube video on the Niagara River at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAJngWQfnjU, showing the three flowing bands just before the river freezes]
This clockwise reverse-flow along the American shore is really a long, stretched-out eddy; it is created because, as the main central band of the river passes under the Rainbow Bridge, the gorge takes a slight jog to the left (as can be seen above, under the bridge at the center-left of photo)
Most of the river continues on, curving to the left at the jog, but a portion of the flow along the American side turns upon itself, and ends up flowing the opposite way, in a conflicted "upriver" current, heading back along the American shore. When this counter-current reaches the area just below Prospect Point, the force of the flow from the American Falls pushes this counter-current into the center of the river, where it merges with the main river current, and heads downstream again. It is along the edges of this never-ending conflict, in this under-tow, where one body of water is trying to move over another, where the river's swirling eddys and mini-whirlpools are often seen.
These characteristics of the river are not as obviously-visible in the summer months, but clearly show themselves during the brief window as the winter-freeze approaches; this is when newly-forming floating ice makes its appearance, thereby showing the movement of the three bands of flow within the river. These characteristics can also briefly be seen in the spring (after the break-up of the main Ice Bridge) when smaller floating ice makes its way down the upper Niagara from Lake Erie and goes over the Falls. above: Jan.3, 2011 - winter's here, no ice yet; but the next day... above: Jan.4, 2011 - in one day, the slower-flowing Canadian side already has a thin ice shelf attached along the shore; this ice is not moving, it is already in place.
In the above shot, the division between the main center-part of the river (still with moving ice) and the Canadian-side non-moving ice-shelf can be clearly seen. The main part of the river is seen here with ice flowing closer to the Canadian-side at this time; the U.S.-side of the main part of the river is still clear of ice. The third band along the U.S. shore is also still clear of ice at this time. above: Jan.9, 2011 - now the ice-shelf on the Canadian side is wider and has grown farther out into the river - this ice does not move. The ice chunks in the center of the river are still moving (travelling downstream [northwards] from right to left), and are thicker than in the previous photo.
Now, along the far American shore, a thin ice shelf has also begun to form; and also, a few ice chunks are seen along the far shore - but it is interesting to note that they are flowing left-to-right (due to the phenomenon explained earlier) while at the same time in this photo the main band of the river is carrying ice right-to left.
Also note how the Adams tunnel discharge is clearly seen flowing towards the right. above: Jan.10, 2011 - today shows a dramatic change: the main part of the river is now all full of small chunks of thin ice, which at this time are still moving downstream (towards the left) along with the river current.
Today, the band of ice seen along the U.S. side was still moving upstream, very slowly, towards the right. There is only a narrow permanent ice shelf on the American side at this time.above: Jan.12, 2011 - today, the ice band along the American side (in the area from the left of the Adams tunnel to under the Rainbow Bridge) stopped moving, and has become permanent; while to the right of the Adams tunnel, the U.S.-side ice band was still moving upstream and ice chunks were being pushed into the center stream, which as of today was still moving; the ice chunks are larger than yesterday. Note the reflection of the bridge of the river surface, it's rarely so calm here that a real clear reflection of the bridge can be seen; this is from a sheen of clear ice now forming on the river surface. above: Jan.13, 2011 - today the three bands of the river can be clearly seen today.
The ice-shelf on the American side has grown dramatically since yesterday; it is now farther out, thicker, and now continues to the right past the Adams tunnel; this band of ice is no longer moving. The warmer temperature of the Adams discharge causes the growing ice-sheet to form itself around the area, creating a pool in front of the tunnel mouth.
Along the Canadian shore at the bottom, the permanent ice-shelf has also grown out considerably more. The center portion of the river, which is still moving, is today much narrower than it was yesterday; the ice here is now in the form of larger sheets, whereas earlier it had been smaller chunks. above: Jan.14, 2011 - 24 hours later, the Niagara River Ice Bridge has formed! Today, the center band has frozen-up, and now none of the bands of ice are moving, although, of course, the river still runs beneath.
How large the Ice Bridge will become this winter remains to be seen! above: Jan.16, 2011 - at the left, the ice under the Rainbow Bridge, which was seen on the 14th, has been swept downriver. However, the ice that remains is growing much thicker. On Jan.15 there was a dramatic change in the river (seen further below), for while the river was shedding some ice from the area under the Rainbow Bridge, and pushing it downstream, just a bit further upstream, the entire gorge froze over completely!! above: Jan.17, 2011 - not only has the Ice Bridge re-grown again under the bridge, it is much thicker than it was on Jan.14, full of deep fissures and crevasses. Today some huge chunks of ice were being broken-off the downstream edge of the ice shelf, and being carried downriver, out to the left, just past the Rainbow Bridge, as seen next... above: Jan.17, 2011 - in the center of the river, a massive ice floe can be seen floating by the former site of the doomed Schoellkopf power generating station; this floe had just broken off the trailing-edge of the ice bridge from under the Rainbow Bridge (which is immediately to the right [south] from here, just out of frame).
The above photo of the ice floe passing the Schoellkopf station site reminds me of another eerily similar photo from Apr. 1938 - taken at this exact location - showing a huge ice floe with part of the collapsed Honeymoon Bridge on top of it, floating down the Niagara River, see here!!)
above: Mar.3, 2011 - the same view as above, looking at the former Schoellkopf station site - the Niagara River here is still frozen with the Ice Bridge.
above: Jan.18, 2011, returning back to the south-side of the Rainbow Bridge - although a bluish colour of the river ice was somewhat visible on Jan.17 (which was a sunny blue-sky day), today (on a real dull, hazy day) the river ice can definitely be seen with a very light-blue tinge throughout it, which is not a reflection of a blue sky. The interior of the ice crevasses clearly show the light-blue-candy-floss-like colour, as does the general ice surface. It's interesting that the "white" of the snow as seen along the gorge slopes is not the same tone of "white" as the river ice. Also today, as seen in the center of the river, directly under the bridge, thin brown streaks have now developed on top of the ice surface, going from shore-to-shore; these lines are from slush which drips off the corresponding bridge girders above.
above: Jan.21, 2011, the crevasses are ever-more pronounced; and there's more build-up of ice at the bottom, at the band running along the Canadian shore.
above: Jan.24, 2011 - the pool in front of the Adams tunnel is smaller; the slush off the bridge is seen running halfway across the river.above: Jan.26, 2011 - today the pool in front of the tunnel has become larger. This a favourite place for ducks to gather.
The ice on the American side of the bridge is clearly seen being higher that the stone abutments - it was already pressing against the steel supports of the bridge. Compare that to the picture from Jan.27, 2011!! The ice isn't nearly as high today; but, the characteristics of the ice bridge are the same as they were then, a slow mass, growing, cracking, folding upon itself and imperceptibly moving as the river grinds underneath it. When the steel Honeymoon Bridge finally did fall, there was no real warning, but it wasn't a surprise: it was known that it was going to happen, but not really when. The bridge was closed, and the officials waited it out; inspectors climbing on the bridge a day earlier had even held out hope that the bridge footings might withstand the ice pressure. When you look at the Niagara River ice bridge in the 2011 shot, there is seemingly not much going on; the crevasses do seem to move, but at a glacial pace; there is no perceptible movement of the ice, it's just sitting there, boring and solid - just as it had looked in 1938. When the Honeymoon Bridge just finally fell, there was no dramatic warning given by the ice sheet - it had slowly and relentlessly just pushed the footings out of its way! There was no dramatic rush of ice, it just happened, and the bridge fell onto the ice sheet below! Then, the entire bridge just laid there, on top of the ice, until April, when finally a huge chunk of melting ice broke off and actually carried a large portion of the bridge for a ride downriver! Interestingly, even though there was this massive amount of ice seen in 1938, the Adams tunnel was still seen with a smallish pool of open water in front of it!!
The new Rainbow Bridge opened on Nov.1, 1941, just about 500 feet north (downriver) from the where the Honeymoon Bridge had stood - see more on the Rainbow Bridge here
above: here are the remains of the now-collapsed Honeymoon Bridge taken from the same view as the previous photo. The remnants of the fallen bridge are laying on top of the Ice Bridge which had knocked it down. (exact date not given with photo, obviously after Jan.27, 1938)
Above and below photo from the Niagara Falls Ont. library archives.
above: ...now, let's go back in time to 1897: here is the same view of the same site - but this photo shows us the same site before the Honeymoon Bridge was built.
If you look at the bottom right, the red arrows point to what appear to be new footings which were just being built for the new Honeymoon Bridge! Note the Adams tunnel is also clearly seen, and its outfall is running to the right (upstream).
The existing suspension bridge (which is seen in the photo above, seen still in use; and which was also known as the Second Fallsview Suspension Bridge) became too narrow for the anticipated traffic at the time, and couldn't support the streetcar route which was also being planned.
This suspension bridge seen above was the second suspension bridge to have been built here at this same spot.
The First Fallsview Suspension Bridge to be built here at this same spot was opened in 1869, and was just ten feet wide, meaning that traffic had to be alternated as it was able to only cross one-way at a time. This first bridge underwent several modifications over the years, and by 1888 had been widened to 17 feet, thereby enabling two-way crossings. On Jan.10, 1889, the First Fallsview bridge - which had always been subject to wind sway - collapsed into the gorge during a severe windstorm.
The remnants of the First Fallsview Suspension Bridge still remain in the river here (as do the most of the remnants of the doomed Honeymoon Bridge, which would also collapse here at the same spot 49 years later).
The new Second Fallsview Suspension Bridge was amazingly opened just several months later, on May 7, 1889!!! Talk about speed!
This Second Fallsview bridge - the one which is seen in the 1897 photo above - was essentially a copy of the first bridge, and was also 17 feet wide. But its life here at this location was short - it became obvious that this replacement bridge would soon become too small for the traffic that was anticipated (including a streetcar line) so another stronger steel-arch bridge was planned to replace this Second Fallsview Suspension Bridge: this would become the Honeymoon Bridge.
Interestingly, the Second Fallsview Suspension Bridge only lasted less than ten years here at this location. In 1898 its replacement, the new steel Honeymoon Bridge, had opened; but, the Second Fallsview Suspension Bridge was not demolished or scrapped. Instead, the Second Fallsview Suspension Bridge was taken apart and essentially recycled; it was rebuilt and reused as part of the new Queenston-Lewiston Suspension Bridge, which was opened in July 1899. This bridge went on to serve until 1962, when the new Queenston-Lewiston steel-arch bridge was built. (for more, see Remnants of the Queenston-Lewiston Suspension Bridge.)
above: Feb.3, 2011 - looking again at the same site: the ice bridge is still there, solid and thick. The same cracks and fissures are still there, slightly deeper. The Adams pool is smaller again.above: Feb.10, 2011 - after a bitterly cold week, the ice sheet remains solid.
above: Feb.14, 2011 - still solid, it has now been a month since the Ice Bridge had first formed on Jan.14.
above: Feb.18, 2011 - today was a warm day (58F high) but still below-freezing nights. The Adams tunnel pool is larger. For the first time in months, both the larger Adams tunnel, and the other smaller tunnel seen just to its left, were discharging at the same time. The smaller tunnel seems to be rarely used, but today it was just gushing. I'm not sure where this smaller tunnel originates.
above: Feb.22, 2011 - the last several days were frigidly cold, consequently the Adams tunnel pool has frozen-up again. The smaller tunnel isn't discharging today.
above: Feb.27, 2011, a snowfall helped cover some of the crevasses in the ice bridge; the Adams tunnel pool is larger again.
above: Mar.1, 2011 - for 47 days now (since it had first formed back on Jan.14, 2011) this Niagara River Ice Bridge has remained solid and has not moved. Note the Adams pool is larger again; more slush from the Rainbow Bridge is seen on the recent snow underneath.
above: Mar.3, 2011; it's been very cold the last several days
above: Mar.5, 2011 - rainy day today - the ice bridge is still solid; both the Adams tunnel and the other outfall beside it are discharging water today
above: Mar.5, 2011 - closer view of both outfalls.
above: Mar.7, 2011; note at the very far upper left, a little past the Rainbow Bridge, a tiny pool of open water has opened up in the river.
above: Mar.8, 2011
above: Mar.9, 2011above: Mar.10, 2011
above: Mar.12, 2011 - the Adams pool has been slowly growing larger over the last several days; note the line of ice (at the far left) is moving to the right; to the left of this ice line, the river is now open.
above: Mar.14, 2011 - the Niagara River Ice Bridge has held on for two months now, having first formed on Jan.14. Today for the first time since it froze, the main crevasses are now filling with the green-tinged river water, a sure sign that the melt is well on its way. The Adams outfall pool is growing larger still.
As of today, the Ice Bridge exists only in the area stretching from underneath the Rainbow Bridge to the American Observation tower (jumping over the open part where the Adams pool is).
As seen above, at the far left, the river past the Rainbow Bridge is clear of permanent bank-to-bank ice; the river is also clear of bank-to-bank ice from the American Observation tower to the Horseshoe Falls, as seen below:
above: Mar.14, 2011 - this photo looks just a bit further to the right from the previous photo; the same Adams outfall pool is now seen at the far left, the south abutment of the old Honeymoon Bridge is marked with the arrow.
Looking upriver (to the right) from the Observation tower over to the Falls, the river is now clear of permanent ice. The southern edge of the Ice Bridge now runs from the foot of the Observation tower across to the Canadian side, having receded from being pretty much right under the Horseshoe Falls back in late Jan. 2011.
The river area from the Observation tower to just under the Rainbow Bridge (skipping over the Adams pool) is now the last portion which still has the permanent bank-to-bank ice. Note in the center of the above photo how the large crevasse is filling with greenish river water. Also interesting here is that at the line where the Ice Bridge starts (at the foot of the Observation tower) there can be also be seen a line of debris which stretches from shore to shore along the ice edge: this is mostly tree logs, wood and branches which had been tossed over the Falls and are now being released by the melting ice.above: Mar.15, 2011 - the Ice Bridge is softening. The crevasses are widening and the pool is growing larger by the day.
above: Mar.16, 2011 - the Ice Bridge continues to soften.
**** Click on any photo to enlarge! ****
above: Mar.16, 2011 - here is a wide panoramic view of the last remaining shore-to-shore portion of the Ice Bridge, which now exists only in the area from just underneath the Rainbow Bridge (at the far left) to the base of the Observation tower, at the right. Note how the debris field at the right has moved slightly and grown larger, compared to the earlier Mar.14 photo. The crevasses are getting wider.
above: Mar.17, 2011, the now-green-tinged crevasses under the Rainbow Bridge are wider.
above: Mar.17, 2011 - panoramic view; the large crevasse seen at the right is also larger again today.
above: Mar.18, 2011 - the crevasses are widening; small chunks of ice are breaking off and floating downriver at the left.
above: Mar.19, 2011 - significant changes have occurred since yesterday: the ice on the U.S.-side of the river under the Rainbow Bridge has been washed downriver; now the Adams outfall is no longer separated in a pool, but is re-connected back to the river.
above: Mar.19, 2011 - a wide-view shows the shrinking Ice Bridge; now, only the part between the Observation tower and the Adams outfall still has shore-to-shore ice; it looks very soft, and the crevasses now are full of running water, not ice, which eventually will melt enough of the permanent ice to lift it up and carry it downstream. Note, at right, how the debris field has progressed to now being to the left of the Observation tower.
above: Mar.19, 2011 - the debris which has piled up in the center of the river. At the top is the U.S. dock for the Maid of the Mist. At bottom is a closer view of an open water crevasse.
above: Mar.19, 2011 - closer view of the debris field, containing a lot of wood and logs, but also barrels and other floating detritus.
above: Mar.20, 2011 - compared to yesterday's (Mar.19) view, today the ice along the U.S.-side which had been seen immediately to the right of the Adams tunnel, is now gone, as the wide photo below shows:.
above: Mar.20, 2011 - wide angle view shows that along the American shore, between the Observation tower and the Adams tunnel, the ice has broken: the Ice Bridge is now gone!!
It had formed on Jan.14, 2011, and lasted as permanent, non-moving, shore-to-shore ice until yesterday, Mar.19, 2011, existing a total of 64 days.
Today, along the U.S. shore, the river has broken through and is flowing freely, the ice seen at the foot of the Observation tower now is floating, not fixed. Today the interesting phenomenon can be seen where the ice, which is floating along the American shore (to the right of the Adams tunnel), is floating upriver (ie, to the right, against the prevailing current). When the ice reaches the area just below the Observation tower, it gets pushed a little further out, and then moves downriver again.
The ice seen in the center and on the Canadian-side is still fixed and not yet moving, but it is no longer connected as a shore-to-shore 'bridge' to the American side. Also note that the debris field, which was still seen yesterday, has also been swept away.
below: this is how the area in front of the Observation tower looked on Mar.19, 2011, the last day for the Ice Bridge. The debris field is seen piled up in the center of the river, not yet able to break through the Ice Bridge. The ice along the American shore, just to the left of the Observation tower, is still fixed and not moving, at this point.
above: the same area on Mar.20, 2011 - the debris has been pushed through and dispersed downriver, and the shore-to-shore ice link has been broken along the far shore. The ice seen at the center of the river is still fixed and not moving at this point.
above: the same area as seen on Mar.21, 2011 - more dramatic changes seen today: except for a tiny sliver seen at the bottom along the Canadian shore, the river ice is all gone, most of it loosened and swept downriver since yesterday.
above: Mar.21, 2011 - looking back towards the south-side of the Rainbow Bridge, the ice shelf which was seen yesterday, Mar.20, along the Canadian-side at the bottom, is now gone. A last little remnant of ice is seen floating downriver at the far left, passing underneath the bridge.
above: just when you think the fun stops, the Niagara River changes again!
This is the view on Mar.23, 2011 - the river is full of floating ice - again!
There was a snowstorm during the night of Mar.22-23, and today the river was carrying a lot of ice. Interestingly here, the center of the river was moving the ice downriver at the normal speed; however, along the American shore (between the Adams tunnel and the Observation tower), the ice was slowly crawling upstream. The ice to the left of the Adams tunnel, though, underneath the Rainbow Bridge, did not seem to be moving at all today; it is almost as if it wants to form an ice shelf here - again.
(Although this is thin floating ice - not a re-formation of the Ice Bridge - I wonder if it has ever occurred in the past that the fixed Ice Bridge had formed, melted, and re-formed, in the same winter?) [update: see what happened on Apr.18, further down!!!]
Along the Canadian shore at the bottom, the river was carrying the ice downriver, but at a speed much more slower than it was further in the center.
The characteristics and the view of of the river, as it is today, are remarkably similar to how the river was behaving back on Jan.12, 2011, as seen earlier above.
above: Mar.23, 2011 - looking at the base of the Observation tower - compare today's view to the same view taken on Mar.21, 2011! Although technically it's already spring, looks like winter is sending us a last blast!
below: Mar.24, 2011 - looking towards the Observation tower, along the American shore the river ice is crawling upstream (to the right) in the area between the Adams tunnel and the Observation tower; in the center of the river, the ice is being carried downstream (to the left); and, at the bottom, amazingly, the ice there along the shore is not moving today: it has formed an ice shelf - again!
above: Mar.24, 2011 - looking towards the Rainbow Bridge - here today is another surprise: the band of river ice now seen along the far shore, stretching from the left of the Adams tunnel to past the bridge, is not moving, it has formed into a wide ice shelf again! Only the center-band of the river here is flowing downstream (to the left) carrying floating ice; while the third band of the river, along the Canadian-side at the bottom, also is not moving: this has become a substantially wide ice shelf as well!
Compare this to the same view from Mar.21, where there was no river ice here at all! What is also interesting is how similar the river looks today compared to how it appeared back on Jan.13, 2011, the day before the Ice Bridge first formed!
above: Mar.24, 2011 - wide view showing a newly re-formed non-moving ice shelf stretching all along the Canadian-shore of the Niagara River at the bottom; and a newly re-formed ice shelf under the Rainbow Bridge, at the upper left.
below: Mar.25, 2011 - the next day, the ice shelves which had built up along both shores, are gone - again. Quite a difference from yesterday.
above: Mar.25, 2011 - looking towards the Observation tower, only a small amount of light ice is floating downriver today.
below: Mar.26, 2011 - a band of light ice is still flowing downriver along the Canadian side
above: Mar.26, 2011 - looking towards the Observation tower, the river along the U.S.-side is clear of floating ice. Note the rocks below the American Falls are still fully covered in ice.
below: Mar.29, 2011 - there is only a trace amount of floating ice along the Canadian shore. Note the Adams outfall is clearly seen flowing upstream, to the right, today.
below: Mar.30,2011 - note how the snow along the far shore is slowly melting compared to yesterday.
below: Mar.31, 2011 - the snow along the far shore continues to melt. Note the wide rocky shoreline visible above the river level. Note the cloud of smoke just to the left of the Observation tower: today workers climbing the gorge-wall are drilling rock:
above: Mar.31, 2011 - a closer view of the rock face just to the left of the Observation tower: five workers are seen suspended by ropes along the gorge walls, checking and removing loose rock.
above: Mar.31, 2011 - closer view showing four of the workers on the cliff face; the two workers seen closer to the bottom are actually operating a drill machine, which itself is suspended from above.
below: Apr.1, 2011 - the workers are still climbing along the rockface in the distance, to the left of the Observation tower. Note the Adams outfall is flowing upstream (to the right) again today.
And also note another very dramatic change today... maybe you can spot the difference by comparing the Apr.1 photo below to the same Mar.31 view (third photo above)...
...the dramatic difference today is that the Niagara River water level has risen by at least ten feet since yesterday!
Look at the Mar.31 photo: the wide rocky shoreline is clearly visible from the Observation tower all the way to past the Rainbow Bridge; compare that to Apr.1: the rocky shoreline has disappeared, covered in rising water. This is due to the river's water levels being readjusted from winter to summer mode, so the control dam above the Falls, in the Upper Niagara River, is allowing more water to flow over the Falls for the tourist season, and less is being diverted to the hydro tunnels. The diversion varies - even during summer, water diversion is increased at night, and decreased in the day.
below: Apr.1, 2011 - closer view of the area which stretches from the Honeymoon Bridge abutments at the right, to the smaller tunnel at the far left.
The red arrow points to some steel pieces lying wedged amongst the rocks; these are remnants of the doomed Honeymoon Bridge, which are visible in winter when the water levels are lower and when the Ice Bridge isn't formed.
above: Mar.31, 2011 - a closeup view of the twisted metal pieces which sit in the rocks below the northern-side abutment of the old Honeymoon Bridge. (The part of the collapsed bridge which had been closest to the U.S.-side sank right here, where it fell, after the 1938 Ice Bridge melted; the part of the fallen bridge closer to the Canadian-side was actually carried on top of the melting ice for about a mile downriver before it finally sank.)
below: Apr.1, 2011 - a closer view of both Honeymoon Bridge abutments, with the amazingly azure-blue water below.
above: Mar.31, 2011 - same view, a day earlier: the low winter river water-level clearly exposed the rocky shore. The metel pieces are at the bottom left, by the snow pile.
below: Apr.1, 2011 - looking at the base of the Observation tower, where the Maid of the Mist dock is. Note the Niagara River water level is touching the concrete dock.
above: Mar.31, 2011 - same view: yesterday the dock clearly had a wide rocky shoreline, and the river level was much lower.
below: Apr.1, 2011 - a closer view of the Maid's dock:
above: Mar.31, 2011 - same view of the Maid's dock a day earlier.
below: Apr.1,2011 - closeup look at the smaller tunnel, which is just to the left (north) of the larger Adams tunnel.
above: Mar.31, 2011 - the same view yesterday: the Niagara River had been at least ten feet lower, showing the rocks along the shore at the foot of the tunnel.
above: as a comparison, here is the same view of the smaller outfall as it was on Mar.3, 2011 - note how the Niagara River water level was even lower than it was on Mar.31, 2011.
below: Apr.1, 2011 - workers were still climbing the gorge rock-face today, checking for loose rock. Note the blue bags seen in the bushes: these are the plastic ponchos which Maid passengers wear on the boat cruise: many of them get thrown away and end up caught in the trees and bushes, sitting there for months; they are seen all over both gorge slopes, obviously, the ones seen now are at least from last year's season, if not older.
below: Apr.6, 2011 - after being clear of ice for over a week, today, more floating ice has appeared on the Niagara River, seen moving along the Canadian side at the bottom.
below: Apr.8, 2011, same view, the ice is mostly gone, but some is still seen along the bottom shore; the white streaks further to the center are the river's typical frothy foam.
above: Apr.8, 2011, looking towards the Observation tower; there is still ice at the base of the American Falls.
below: Apr.8, 2011 - closer look at the American Falls at Prospect Point; the Observation tower is just to the left. Note the interesting streaks of layered ice and dirt being revealed as the ice slowly melts.
above: Feb.12, 2011 - here is the same view of the American Falls at Prospect Point as they were less than two months ago, in the depth of an icy cold winter. Note the same building at the bottom left in both above photos.
above: Apr.12, 2011 - still more ice is floating downriver; this is breakup-ice coming down from Lake Erie and the Upper Niagara River. The white swirls seen in the river center and along the Canadian side at bottom is all floating ice. Note that while the ice is floating downriver heading to the left, the Adams tunnel outfall is flowing upriver to the right. There is still ice at the base of the falls at the right. (Click on photos to enlarge!)
below: Apr.13, 2011 - wide view as more ice continues to flow from the upper river. The Adams outfall is still flowing to the right.
below: Apr.15, 2011 - the river continues to surprise - there is a lot more floating ice here than yesterday. At the bottom, on the Canadian side, another shelf has formed along the shore - this ice was not moving. At the center, the ice was heading downstream to the left; and along the American shore, the ice was flowing to the right.
above: Apr.15, 2011 - looking towards the Observation tower, the Maid dock is fully fronted by flowing ice, which is travelling upriver (to the right) today.
At the far center-right (along the American shore to the right of the tower) this line of ice which is flowing upriver can be seen ending - this is the area where the upflowing ice starts to get pushed a little farther out into the center of the river by the stronger current coming off the American Falls, which causes the ice to flow back downriver again.
above: Apr.15, 2011 - closer view of the Maid dock; note workers cleaning the concrete decks. The ice by the dock is flowing upriver to the right; the ice in the center of the river (a bit of which is seen at the far bottom-right) is flowing downriver to the left; the strip of open water inbetween shows the conflicted area where the opposite-flowing bands of current fight each other.
below: this video, taken Apr.15, 2011, explains the above descriptions, clearly showing the reverse-flowing ice as it moves upriver along the U.S. side, while at the center the current is flowing downriver.
below: Apr.16, 2011 - on this foggy and cold day, there is still a lot of floating ice in the river today. Note at the center-right that both outfalls are discharging water like gangbusters today. The discharge water from the Adams outfall, at the far right, is noticeably grey; the discharge from the smaller tunnel at the left is more muddy brown.
above: Apr.16, 2011 - looking towards the Observation tower, with the two tunnels seen discharging at the left; the ice which had been along the Maid dock (as was seen on Apr.15) is gone; the ice flow is mostly in the center of the river today.
below: Apr.17, 2011 - a day later, all the ice, even the band which had attached itself along the Canadian side at the bottom, is gone - again!! This is possibly the end of the ice flow which had been coming down from the upper Niagara. Today, only the Adams tunnel is discharging, and the volume of its outfall is a lot less than it was yesterday.
above: Apr.17, 2011 - looking towards the Observation tower, there is no ice in the river. The American Falls (at the far right) still have a substantial amount of ice caked up at their base. Pretty soon the Maid's floating passenger-boarding dock will be towed out from its winter storage area on the Canadian side over to the American side near the foot of the Observation tower.
below: Apr.18, 2011 - there is an astounding sight to behold today on this cold, snowy, dreary day: ANOTHER ICE BRIDGE HAS FORMED TODAY in the Niagara River!!
The change from yesterday's photos is absolutely stunning: the entire Niagara River in the gorge, from the Rainbow Bridge all the way to the base of the Horseshoe Falls, has COMPLETELY FROZEN OVER today! This is NOT floating, thin ice: this ice is NOT moving today, the ice has packed itself solid from shore-to-shore, and the ice sheet is quite thick; this is another genuine Ice Bridge which has formed, for the second time in 2011 !!!
above: three photos taken Apr.18, 2011, showing the Niagara River frozen completely from the Rainbow Bridge all the way to the Horseshoe Falls. (This is a repeat of what happened back on Jan.15-16, 2011, seen earlier above, when the Niagara River completely froze over essentially overnight).
Earlier in this post (on Mar.23,2011) I wrote and wondered whether an Ice Bridge had ever formed, melted completely, and then reformed again, in the same season - well: IT HAS HAPPENED !!
In this post, I have documented the first 2011 Ice Bridge, from when it first formed back on Jan.14, 2011, to when it broke up and disappeared on Mar.19, 2011. Since then, the Niagara River has cleared itself of floating ice, and been refilled with floating ice, several times.
I didn't expect to witness and document the phenomenon of the creation of a second 2011 Ice Bridge forming here on Apr.18, 2011, just under a month after the first Ice Bridge disappeared!!
above: Apr.18, 2011 - standing at Table Rock House, looking down the Niagara River towards the Rainbow Bridge in the distance: the river is seen completely frozen over today with thick, non-moving ice, from the Rainbow Bridge all the way to the base of the Horseshoe Falls; this is an absolutely amazing change from yesterday (Apr.17) when the river was completely free of ice!!
(Click on photos to enlarge!)
above: Apr.18, 2011 - looking down the Niagara River gorge at the new Ice Bridge, the second Ice Bridge to have formed here in 2011. The ice here is not moving, and stretches from shore-to-shore, all the way to the Rainbow Bridge in the distance. Part of the roof of the former Ontario Power Co. hydro station can be seen at the bottom of the gorge on the Canadian side, at the center-left.
*below: Apr.18, 2011 - looking out the windows from Table Rock, towards the Rainbow Bridge in the distance, as the Niagara River gorge is completely iced over with its second Ice Bridge of 2011. Note the large crane set up in front: a cage carrying a crew of workers had been lowered down into the gorge to inspect the rock walls.
above: Apr.18, 2011 - four members of the inspection crew prepare to exit the cage after it was raised back up from the gorge.
below three photos: Apr.19, 2011 - Day Two for the new Niagara River 2011 Ice Bridge #2, which stretches from the Rainbow Bridge all the way to the base of the Horseshoe Falls. The ice here today is solid, and is not moving. On the far left, under the Rainbow Bridge, it can be seen, compared to the same Apr.18 view, that today the river is already eating away at the ice as the current exits from underneath the Ice Bridge.
above: Apr.19, 2011 - an open pool at the far right (in front of the Canadian Maid drydock) has appeared.
below: Apr.19, 2011 - a closer view of the Maid dock at the foot of the Observation tower: the ice is higher than the concrete dock!!
Remember: all this ice appeared in one day - the river was clear of ice on Apr.17!
above: Apr.17, 2011 - it's hard to believe, but true: here is what the Maid dock looked like on Sunday Apr.17!! Overnight, by Monday Apr.18, the massive new 2011 Ice Bridge #2 had formed!
below: Apr.19, 2011 - looking down the frozen Niagara River towards the Rainbow Bridge in the distance: this is the second day of the new 2011 Ice Bridge #2.
The open pool seen at the upper-left is in front of the Canadian Maid drydock; the smaller pool seen at the center-left is in front of the outfall which still drains out of the former Ontario Power plant.above: Apr.19, 2011 - looking towards the Horseshoe Falls with the new Ice Bridge #2 in the foreground. The roof of the former Ontario Power station runs along the bottom right.
below two photos: Apr.19, 2011 - beside Table Rock House, the crane is suspending the cage with the crew still working on the cliff face. At the bottom is the Journey Behind The Falls tunnel viewing area.
below three photos: Apr.20, 2011 - Day 3 of the 2011 Ice Bridge #2 !
Today the Ice Bridge stretches from just under the Rainbow Bridge, to just past the Observation tower by Prospect Point: in this area (as can be seen in the third below photo) today there is clear water from shore-to-shore, whereas yesterday this area was still frozen.
This clear water seen today in front of the American Falls means that our Ice Bridge #2 (which on Apr.18 and 19 had stretched as one massive body from the Rainbow Bridge to the Horseshoe Falls) has now been separated into two Ice Bridges: the lower Ice Bridge here by the Rainbow Bridge (as seen in the below three photos) and the remainder of the now-upper Ice Bridge which still exists farther up the gorge by the Horseshoe Falls, which until today, had been part of the same massive body.
above: Apr.20, 2011 - the upper Ice Bridge can still be seen in the distance, past the American Falls, stretching from shore-to-shore. The body of open water which has opened up since yesterday has split the new Ice Bridge into two portions. Note that the other smaller pool of open water (which is in front of the Canadian Maid drydock) is still separate today, and has not as of yet joined the growing open water.
above: Apr.20, 2011 - closer view of the Maid landing, still fronted by ice as high as the concrete dock.
below three photos: Apr.21, 2011 - Day 4 of the 2011 Ice Bridge #2 ! The lower edge of the Ice Bridge is just north of the Rainbow Bridge; the line of ice continues to slowly recede, moving slightly to the right since yesterday. The ice here is still solid, and is not moving.
above: Apr.21, 2011 - note the changes in the distance: the pool by the Canadian-side Maid dock, which was still separate yesterday, is today part of the larger body of open water; and the part of the shore-to-shore "upper" Ice Bridge, which had been closer to the Horseshoe Falls, is gone today. An ice shelf still remains along the river below Goat Island in the left distance.
[See my YouTube video of the Apr.21, 2011 Ice Bridge #2]
So today, only the lower portion of Ice Bridge #2 remains; its upper edge runs from the Observation tower to the Canadian Maid dock. In a now-familiar repeat scene (as was seen earlier above back on Mar.17) a line of trapped debris has again piled up along the upper ice edge.
The 2011 Ice Bridge #2 as seen today looks remarkably similar to how this same area looked on Mar.17, just before the 2011 Ice Bridge #1 was about to break-up.
[as shown earlier above in this post, it was late on Mar.18 that the part of Ice Bridge #1 on the U.S.-side between the Adams tunnel and the Rainbow Bridge broke; and then late on Mar.19 the part between the Adams tunnel and the Observation tower broke. I wonder whether this second ice sheet will break-up in the same sequence?]
above: Apr.21, 2011 - closer view of the U.S.-side Maid dock: the river ice as seen alongside the dock seems a bit lower compared to yesterday.
below: Apr.22, 2011 - Day 5 of the 2011 Niagara Ice Bridge #2 ! (click on photos to enlarge)
This nice wide-view shows that the lower edge of the ice, under the Rainbow Bridge, continues to recede to the right. The pool in front of the Adams tunnel continues to grow, and is larger than it was yesterday. At the right, the upper edge of Ice Bridge is has also receded somewhat to the left from yesterday. There is still a large amount of ice in front of the Maid dock. The debris field has formed into a V near the base of the Observation tower.
[See my YouTube video of the Apr.22, 2011 Ice Bridge #2]
When this second Ice Bridge goes, I'll bet that the part which runs along the American-side (marked with the red L) which is to the left of the Adams tunnel will go first; then, the part marked R (by the Maid dock/Observation tower) will go next, thereby ending this latest re-incarnation of the shore-to-shore, solid, non-moving Ice Bridge. The center-part will go next, and then the part along the Canadian shore at the bottom: well - at least, this is what the river did last time, between Mar.17-21, as we saw previously above!!
below: Apr.23, 2011 - well, forget about seeing how the 2011 Niagara River Ice Bridge #2 was going to break up: today, it's already all gone!!! Just a few occasional little chunks of ice are floating by today; what a dramatic change from yesterday, when this was still a solid mass of ice.
above: Apr.22, 2011 - this is the same view, just a day ago: all the ice seen here was swept downriver at some point overnight during Apr.22-23.
This unexpected second Niagara River Ice Bridge to have formed in 2011 existed for five days, having formed on Apr.18, 2011, and last seen as shore-to-shore solid ice on Apr.22, 2011.
below: Apr.23, 2011
above: Apr.22, 2011, same view
below: Apr.23, 2011
above: same view a day earlier, on Apr.22, 2011. Note the V-shaped debris line along the upper ice edge.
below: Apr.23, 2011 - closer view of the U.S. Maid of the Mist dock, a little bit of ice remains on the shore to the left of the concrete dock.
above: Apr.22, 2011 - same view; the dock height gives an idea of the massive amount of ice which was here and which disappered overnight!
There is a difference between the circumstances and characteristics of the formation of the First and the Second Ice Bridges: the first one formed naturally in January after a period of falling temperatures.
The circumstance surrounding the second Ice Bridge is entirely different: this was mostly caused by the mass of floating ice which came downriver from Lake Erie, after the winter ice-boom at the east-end of Lake Erie was dismantled around Apr.14. By Apr.18, as we saw in this post, a second solid Ice Bridge had formed in the gorge, stretching from the Rainbow Bridge to the Horseshoe Falls.
In the sense that the timing to begin the removal of the Lake Erie ice boom (and thereby release the built-up winter-ice which had been held back at the east end of the lake, just before the mouth of the Niagara River) was planned, then it can be said that this second Ice Bridge was "man-made"!
In some years, by the time the ice boom is scheduled for removal, there is little winter-ice left to flow down the Upper Niagara; in other years, there is still a lot of ice remaining at the time the boom is removed, and yet, an Ice Bridge doesn't consequently materialize downriver.
But as we've seen in Apr. 2011, this time it's clear that the boom removal did contribute greatly to the subsequent formation of a second Ice Bridge several days later downriver. The conditions and temperatures in mid-April were not low enough for the second Ice Bridge to have formed "naturally", in the way which the first Ice Bridge was formed in January. In early-to-mid January there was no ice flowing over the Falls from the Upper Niagara; no substantial ice had yet formed anywhere which could flow downriver to create an Ice Bridge.
The first Ice Bridge developed because conditions were cold enough to allow it.
The second Ice Bridge developed not as a consequence of sustained low temperatures, but because that mass of ice from Lake Erie was released by the boom, and ended up jamming itself in the gorge on Apr.18, in warmer conditions which were not conducive to the creation of a 'natural' Ice Bridge.
The second Ice Bridge can be said to have been 'artificial', in the sense that the ice surely would not have formed on its own in the conditions at the time. The released Lake Erie ice created its own micro-climate as it piled over the Falls and into the gorge, where it managed to maintain its solid integrity for five days before dissipating on Apr.22.
So although the formation of this second 2011 Ice Bridge was unexpected, at the same time, it was theoretically possible all along. I just don't know how probable it was for anyone to have predicted that this second - artificial - Ice Bridge would form under the conditions we've had in the spring of 2011.
below: Apr.27, 2011 - just farther to the right of the old Honeymoon Bridge footings on the U.S. side, a worker can be seen walking along the bank of the Niagara River picking up trash - mostly those blue ponchos - many of which are still stuck high up in the tree branches.
below: a reminder of how the Maid dock looked back on Mar.26, 2011, when the river water level was still low.
above: the same view on Apr.29, 2011 - yesterday the Maid's floating dock was towed over from the Canadian side. Note the motorboat which has landed on the rocky shore at the right.
below: Apr.29, 2011 - workers preparing the floating dock for opening. Note the motorboats at the right side of the dock, which are used to ferry crews across.
below: Apr.29, 2011 - a closer view of the Maid of the Mist dock on the Canadian side, where crews are preparing the ships for the season.
At the bottom of the photo, the Maid VII is seen in the process of being slowly lowered from her drydock winter berth into the river.
Three other vessels have already been lowered into the river, and are seen tied to each other at the end of the dock.
The ship farthest away is the Maid IV; the ship in the middle is the Maid V; and the ship closest to the floating blue-sided passenger building is the Maid VI; a closer view of these ships is further below.
below: Apr.29, 2011 - wider view of the Canadian Maid docks. The American and the Bridal Veil Falls are across the river, and the Observation tower is at the left. A small amount of winter ice can still be seen in the rocks at both sides of the falls.
above: here's the same view as it was back on Mar.2, 2011, with the boats raised up in their drydocks. Note that the upper edge of the (first) Ice Bridge was in front of the docks at this time. Note the huge chunks of ice which had formed all along the base of the American and Bridal Veil Falls.*
below: May 3, 2011; the Maid boats are taken out for test runs; there are no passengers yet on the boats. Here the Maid VII is seen waiting at the U.S. dock, while the Maid IV passes by heading downriver before she turns around again.
above: May 3, 2011 - a very rare scene indeed here: you can spot a flat-bottom motorboat crossing the river towards the U.S. side. You will hardly ever see a small craft here in this area of the Niagara River, right near the falls.
below: May 4, 2011 - today, the Maid of the Mist has opened for the season; here the Maid IV is seen leaving the dock, now carrying passengers.
The boats fly the Canadian flag at the stern and the U.S. flag above the wheelhouse. On their stern nameplates, the Maid of the Mist boats list St.Catharines (Ontario) as their home port, though it is certain that none of these boats have ever been there (!Whirlpool Rapids!)
above: May 4, 2011 - the Maid IV passes Prospect Point, about to cross in front of the American Falls. Note that some stubborn patches of ice are still visible in the rocks.
above: Aug.11, 2011 - a rare glimpse of the Little Maid, a mini tug/shuttle boat in the Maid of the Mist fleet, not normally used for passenger service.
below: May 9, 2011 - looking at the Rainbow Bridge in the distance, from the spot where the old Honeymoon Bridge's entrance had once been on the Canadian side.
At the bottom left, wedged in a most unlikely place - in the old Honeymoon Bridge's upper abutments - a joyous burst of red tulips hang at the edge of the gorge, high above the Niagara River, as the trees in the gorge begin to unfurl their leaves for the new season.
above: May 9, 2011 - the Maid VII passes by Goat Island, with a good side-angle close-up view of two distinct water plumes at the American end of the Horseshoe Falls. Even while tulips are blooming here in May, note the significant amount of ice which still remains in the rocks at the base of the Falls.
The six photos below are a reminder of how the first 2011 Niagara River Ice Bridge formed:
below: Jan.14, 2011 - in this photo, the Rainbow Bridge is in the left distance; the Observation tower is seen in the center distance, with the American Falls at the right.
Note that in the distance, the river is seen frozen-over with the (first) Ice Bridge, in the area from the Rainbow Bridge to the American Falls, as was seen in the earlier above photos. However, as of Jan.14, the part of the Niagara River between the American Falls and the Horseshoe Falls was still flowing freely, and, as can be seen below, didn't even have many ice chunks on it... but, two days later... above: Jan.16, 2011 - just two days later, the river has now completely frozen-over. The Ice Bridge has grown in an upstream direction, forming itself against the current of the river. The ice cap formed heading upstream while the river was forced to flow underneath it.
Note at the centre-far-left can be seen a bit of a boat above the river: this is one of the Maid of the Mist boats, which are all drydocked on the Canadian side for the winter. (It's amazing that three months later (compared to the Apr.18, 2011 photos) the river would look the same again!)
below: Jan.14, 2011 - looking towards the Horseshoe Falls, the river is pretty much still clear of ice, and is flowing normally. At the bottom right is the roof of the decommissioned old Ontario Power Co. hydro generating station. above: Jan.16, 2011 - only two days later, the river has dramatically frozen-over nearly up to the base of the falls. The river is now flowing underneath its newly-formed Ice Bridge.
below: Jan.14, 2011 - closer view, looking downstream, towards the Rainbow Bridge in the distance: this was where the Ice Bridge originally formed; it then grew heading upstream.
In the far centre distance, just behind the Rainbow Bridge, can be seen the site of the old Schoellkopf hydro station.
above: Jan.16, 2011 - same view, the Niagara River is now frozen, though a portion is still seen clear which is the turbulent area near the base of the American Falls.
below: Sept.1, 2011 ...so here we are, another summer season has almost passed. Seen here today at the beginning of September, the Niagara River is at her resplendent best, with her trademark turquoise waters bordered by verdant green foliage along the shore .
above: Nov.1, 2011 - now, autumn has arrived; the leaves are thinning, and the greenery is making way for the yellows, oranges and browns of fall. Today, the river level of the Niagara River has dropped, as planned, due to the winter-season hydro intakes being opened up above the Falls, which divert water from the Upper Niagara River to reservoirs on the U.S. and Canadian sides of the river for electrical generation. Note the dropped river levels have created a 'new' shoreline seen along the U.S. side, which, as seen in the top photo, had been submerged all summer.
below: Oct.26, 2011 - workers are seen closing up the Maid of the Mist dock on the U.S. side. The first passengers of the 2011 season (as we saw earlier in this post) were carried on May 4, 2011; the last boat tours of the 2011 season were on Monday, Oct.24, 2011. The boats were hauled out of the water on Tuesday Oct.25; the floating Maid of the Mist boarding hut, which was tied off to the U.S. dock all season, was also untethered and floated back to Canada for storage. The boats and floating docks had to be removed before the scheduled seasonal Niagara River water diversion begins on Nov.1, 2011, which will drop the water level some ten feet.
below: Oct.31, 2011 - same view as above, looking at the Maid of the Mist dock - the river water is seen at its normal levelabove: Nov.1, 2011 - the next day, less than 24 hours later, already a rocky shoreline has appeared below the Maid of the Mist dock as the Niagara River water level drops. It doesn't take long for this to happen.
below three photos: a close up view of the Adams tunnel outfall.
- Top view below is from June 1, 2011. Note that the water flowing out of the tunnel is just slightly above the summertime high river level, dropping only about a step down into the river.
- Middle view below is from Oct.31, 2011; note that the river has already dropped , because the outfall is now clearly dropping two steps before reaching the river.
- Bottom view below is from Nov.1, 2011, just a day later. The drop from the Adams tunnel is now three steps; and also, the rocky shoreline has re-emerged once again, which had been under water for the summer.
below: June 1, 2011 - a summer view of the Adams tunnel area, with the smaller tunnel seen at the far left, and the Honeymoon Bridge abutments at the right. Note the water from the Adams tunnel outfall only drops one step before it reaches the high summertime river level.
below: Oct.31, 2011 same view as above, as autumn is in full swing; note that not all the deciduous trees have dropped their leaves; some are just turning colour. Note that the Adams Tunnel outfall is now dropping down two steps before reaching the river.
above: Nov.1, 2011 - the same view - now a rocky shoreline has become visible, which was not there 24 hours ago. Note that today, the Adams tunnel outfall drops three steps before reaching the lowered river level. Also, the small pieces of steel (seen earlier above, which were submerged just below the northern abutment of the Honeymoon Bridge) are re-appearing again as the water level drops.
below: Oct.31, 2011 - looking at the smaller tunnel which is slightly to the north of the Adams tunnel; the river is at its regular level
above: Nov.1, 2011 - same view 24 hours later; the river level has dropped
below: looking towards the U.S. side of the Niagara River Gorge, with the footings of the Rainbow Bridge seen at the upper left, and the small tunnel seen at the right. Here's how it looked on Jan.24, 2011, with the Niagara River frozen over with the first Ice Bridge:
above two photos: same view. The middle photo above is from Oct.31, 2011, with the Niagara River at its regular level. The bottom photo above is the same view the next day, on Nov.1, 2011 - the river level has dropped. There is now a rocky, wide shoreline which has emerged, seen from the tunnel to below the bridge, which 24 hours earlier had been submerged.
...and so, the cycle continues...
I began this odyssey with that one photo of the Niagara River taken on Nov.2, 2010, way back at the beginning of this post; a year has since passed, and here we are, now Nov.2, 2011. The boats and the thousands of tourists have come and gone, the river has been raised and lowered, the autumn leaves will soon be covered by snow again, and the ice will form once more - or not!
Thanks to all those who have stuck by this post throughout the last year. Your comments have been appreciated!
R.Bobak Nov.2, 2011
Also see these related posts:
- Horseshoe Falls separated by Ice Formation
- Niagara River Ice Bridge 2010