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"This wonderful downfall is compounded of two great cross-streams of water, and two Falls, with an isle sloping along the middle of it. The waters which fall from this horrible precipice, do foam and boil after the most hideous manner imaginable, making an outrageous noise, more terrible than that of thunder; for when the wind blows out of the south, their dismal roaring may be heard more than fifteen leagues off.
"The river Niagara having thrown itself down this incredible precipice, continues its impetuous course for two leagues together, to the Great Rock* above mentioned, with an inexpressible rapidity; but having passed that, its impetuosity relents, gliding along more gently for other two leagues, till it arrives at the Lake Ontario, or Frontenac.
Any barque or greater vessel may pass from the Fort to the foot of this huge rock, above mentioned. This rock lies to the westward, and is cut off from the land by the river Niagara, about two leagues further down than the Great Fall; for which two leagues the people are obliged to transport their goods over-land; but the way is very good, and the trees are but few, chiefly firs and oaks.
"From the Great Fall unto this rock, which is to the west of the river, the two brinks of it are so prodigious high, that it would make one tremble to look steadily upon the water, rolling along with a rapidity not to be imagined. Were it not for this vast cataract, which interrupts navigation, they might sail with barques or greater vessels more than four hundred and fifty leagues, crossing the Lake of Huron, and reaching even to the further end of the Lake Illinois; which two lakes we may easily say are little seas of fresh water.
"After we had rowed above an hundred and forty leagues upon the Lake Erie, by reason of the many windings of the bays and creeks which we were forced to coast, we passed by the Great Fall of Niagara, and spent half a day in considering the wonders of that prodigious cascade.
"I could not conceive how it came to pass, that four great
It is not known what rock the writer here alludes to.
lakes, the least of which is four hundred leagues in compass, should empty themselves one into another, and then all centre and discharge themselves at this Great Fall, and yet not drown good part of America. What is yet more surprising, the ground from the mouth of the Lake Erie down to the Great Fall, appears almost level and flat. It is scarce discernible that there is the least rise or fall for six leagues together. The more than ordinary swiftness of the stream is the only thing which makes it to be observed. And that which makes it yet the stranger is, that for two leagues together, below the Fall, towards Lake Ontario, or Frontenac, the lands are as level as they are above it towards the Lake Erie.
“Our surprise was still greater when we observed there was no mountain within two good leagues of this cascade; and yet the vast quantity of water which is discharged by these four fresh seas, stops or centres here, and so falls above six hundred feet deep down into a gulf, which one cannot look upon without horror. Two other great outlets or falls of water, which are on the two sides of a small sloping island, which is in the midst, fall gently and without noise, and so glide away quietly enough; but when this prodigious quantity of water of which I speak, comes to the Fall, there is such a din and such a noise, more deafening than the loudest thunder.
"The rebounding of these waters is so great, that a sort of cloud arises from the foam of it, which is seen hanging over this abyss, even at noon-day, when the sun is at its height. In the midst of summer, when the weather is hottest, they rise above the tallest firs, and other great trees, which grow on the sloping island, which makes the two falls of water that I spoke of.
"I wished an hundred times, that somebody had been with us, who could have described the wonders of this prodigious, frightful Fall, so as to give the reader a just and natural idea of it; such as might satisfy him, and cause in him an admiration of this prodigy of nature, as great as it deserves.
"We must call to mind what I observed of it in the beginning of my voyage. From the mouth of the Lake Erie to the Great Fall, are reckoned six leagues, as I have said, which is the continuation of the great river of St. Lawrence, which arises out of the four lakes above mentioned. The river, you must needs think, is very rapid for these six leagues, because of the vast discharge of waters which fall into it out of the said lakes. The lands which lie on both sides of it to the east and west, are all level from the Lake Erie to the Great Fall. Its banks are not steep, on the contrary, the water is almost always level with the land. It is very certain, that the ground toward the Fall is lower, by the more than ordinary swiftness of the stream; and yet it is not perceivable to the eye for six leagues above.
"After it has run thus violently for six leagues, it meets with a small sloping island, about half a quarter of a league long, and near three hundred feet broad, as well as one can guess by the eye; for it is impossible to come at it in a canoe of bark, the waters run with that force. The isle is full of cedar and fir; but the land of it lies no higher than that on the banks of the river. It seems to be all level, even as far as the two great cascades that make the main Fall.
"The two sides of the channels, which are made by the isle, and run on both sides of it, overflow almost the very surface of the earth of the said isle, as well as the land that lies on the banks of the river to the east and west, as it runs south and north. But we must observe, that at the end of the isle, on the side of the two Great Falls, there is a sloping rock which reaches as far as the great gulf, into which the said water falls, and yet the rock is not at all wetted by the two cascades, which fall on both sides, because the two torrents which are made by the isle, throw themselves with a prodigious force, one towards the east and the other towards the west, from off the end of the isle, where the Great Fall of all is.
"After these two torrents have thus run by the two sides
of the isle, they cast their waters all of a sudden, down into the gulf by two Falls; which waters are pushed so violently on by their own weight, and so sustained by the swiftness of the motion, that they do not wet the rock in the least. And here it is that they tumble down into an abyss above six hundred feet in depth.
"The waters that flow on the side of the east, do not throw themselves with that violence as those that fall on the west; the reason is, because the rock at the end of the island rises something more on this side than it does on the west; and so the waters being supported by it somewhat longer than they are on the other side, are carried the smoother off; but on the west, the rock sloping more, the waters, for want of a support, become the sooner broken, and fall with greater precipitation. Another reason is, the lands that lie on the west are lower than those that lie on the east. We also observed that the waters of the Fall that is to the west, made a sort of a square figure as they fell, which made a third cascade, less than the other two, which fell betwixt the south and north.
"And because there is a rising ground which lies before those two cascades to the north, the gulf is much larger there than to the east. Moreover, we must observe, that from the rising ground that lies over-against the last two Falls, which are the west of the main Fall, one may go down as far as the bottom of this terrible gulf. The author of this discovery was down there, the more narrowly to observe the fall of these prodigious cascades. From thence we could discover a spot of ground, which lay under the fall of water which is to the east, big enough for four coaches to drive abreast, without being wet; but because the ground which is to the east of the sloping rock, where the first Fall empties itself into the gulf, is very steep and perpendicular, it is impossible for a man to get down on that side, into the place where the four coaches may go abreast, or to make his way through such a quantity of water as falls towards the gulf;
so that it is very probable, that to this dry place it is that the rattlesnakes retire, by certain passages which they find under ground.
"From the end of this island it is that these two great falls of water, as also the third but now mentioned, throw themselves, after a most surprising manner, down into a dreadful gulf, six hundred feet and more in depth. I have already said, that the waters which discharge themselves at the cascade to the east, fall with lesser force; whereas those to the west tumble all at once, making two cascades, one moderate, the other very violent and strong, which at last make a kind of crotchet or square figure, falling from south to north, and west to east. After this they rejoin the waters of the other cascade that falls to the east, and so tumble down altogether, though unequally, into the gulf, with all the violence that can be imagined from a fall of six hundred feet, which makes the most frightful cascade in the world.
"After these waters have thus discharged themselves into the dreadful gulf, they begin to resume their course, and continue the great river St. Lawrence for two leagues, as far as the three mountains which are on the east side of the river, and the great rock which is on the west, and lifts itself three fathoms above the water, or thereabouts. The gulf into which these waters are discharged, continues itself thus two leagues together, between a chain of rocks, flowing with a prodigious torrent, which is bridled and kept in by the rocks that lie on each side of the river.
"Into this gulf it is that these several cascades empty themselves, with a violence equal to the height from whence they fall, and the quantity of water which they discharge; and hence arise those deafening sounds, that dreadful roaring and bellowing of the waters, which drown the loudest thunder, as also the perpetual mists that hang over the gulf, and rise above the tallest pines that are in the little isle so often mentioned. After a channel is again made at the bottom of this dreadful fall, by the chain of rocks, and filled by that prodigious quantity of waters which are continually