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The People of Niagara: Interesting Facts About Local Legends

Niagara Falls is a place of undeniable natural beauty and attracts visitors from across Canada and the world. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the natural landscape and forget that the city of Niagara Falls and its people have a rich history unto themselves. Let’s explore some of these exciting (and sometimes chilling) stories.

The Fact: In 1848 the Falls stopped.

The Story: In March of 1848, a warm spell broke up the ice floating on Lake Erie. Strong winds then blew the loosened ice into the mouth of the Niagara River, where it froze and created a dam. The dam blocked the water, and the riverbed nearly ran dry. This lasted about forty hours, giving the residents enough time to walk out and explore the riverbed, discovering muskets, bayonets,  swords, and the like from The War of 1812.

The Fact: The last eastern cougar, indigenous to the region, was killed in 1884.

The Story: Some eastern cougars may have survived extinction.  At least that’s what John Greer, the chief executive officer of Welland and District Humane Society, believes. In 2001, the Ministry of Natural Resources confirmed the discovery of cougar scat (or droppings) as well as large claw marks on trees and a horse whose injuries proved to be consistent with a wild cat attack. However, no sightings of the animal have been made.

The Fact:  “The Screaming Tunnel” was used as a filming location for David Cronenberg’s adaptation of Stephen King’s “The Dead Zone”.

The Story: Legend has it there was a small village at one end of the Screaming Tunnel that was home to a young girl. The tunnel became known as the Screaming Tunnel after the young girl passed away there. She may have caught fire in her home and succumbed to the flames in the tunnel. Others believe she was murdered and burned in the tunnel by her father. Regardless of what happened, locals agree that you can hear her screams in the tunnel and, if you light a match at midnight, she will blow it out. Filming for The Dead Zone also took place in nearby Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, a heritage town rich in history and ghost stories of its own.

The Fact: The Toronto Power Station was built in 1906 and was the first wholly Canadian power station at Niagara Falls. It is now a heritage site because of its history and architecture.

The Story: Niagara Falls is known as a very haunted region. Urban explorers report the sounds of machines (even though the Toronto Power Station has had no power for over forty years), and voices have also been reported coming from other rooms in the building.

The Fact: In 1996 a tornado destroyed the local drive-in in Thorold.

The Story: This story made international news and even inspired a recent documentary, largely because witnesses claimed the tornado hit while the movie Twister played. Furthermore, they claimed it hit at the exact same time as the tornado in the movie did. Documentary film maker Jay Cheel was interested in discovering the true story of what happened after twenty years of embellishments. The tornado definitely wrecked the drive through, but in the afternoon, long before the move was screened.

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