29 Mar: When Niagara Ran Dry

Niagara falls, which usually flows with more than 168,000 cubic meters of water every minute, effectively stopped dead on 29th March, 1848.

What was the cause? Over-tourism? Too many water-wheels? DIVINE RETRIBUTION? (Nope: strong southwest gale winds had pushed huge chunks of lake ice to the extreme northeastern tip of Lake Erie, blocking the lake’s outlet into the head of the Niagara River. It soon cleared. But that didn’t stop people freaking out.)

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly explain how an enterprising entrepreneur used the opportunity to improve his pleasure cruise operation; explore the artefacts locals were able to dig up in the dry river-bed; and explain how a series of desperate daredevils forever connected ‘niagara falls’ and ‘barrels’ in people’s imaginations… 

CONTENT WARNING: animal cruelty.

Further Reading:

• ‘The Falls Stopped Flowing in 1848’ (Niagara Falls Tourism, 2015):


• ‘Niagara Falls Runs Dry’ (WIRED, 2010): https://www.wired.com/2010/03/0330niagara-falls-stops/

• ‘Niagara Falls Stops Flowing’ (Weather Underground, 2014):