Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/13

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MAY, 1896.


By J. W. SPENCER, A. M., Pu. D., F. G. S.

NIAGARA Falls in History.—Guided by an Indian chief, La Salle and Hennepin visited Niagara Falls in 1678, but it was not until 1697 that Hennepin published his picture of the cataracts, which, in spite of the rude perspective of two centuries ago and the prominence of the voyageurs, is famous for having been the first pictorial representation of the falls of Niagara (Fig, 1).

The existence of the falls was known a century and a half earlier than Hennepin's narrative through reports of the Indians to Jacques Cartier (1535). In the early part of the seventeenth century, Champlain and several Jesuit fathers mention the cataract, which was mapped by two of them under the name of "Onigara." Reproductions of Hennepin's picture were frequently made, but there appear to be no fairly good drawings of the falls preserved older than that of Lieutenant William Pierie, of date of 1768 (Fig. 3).

The scenery and even the geology of the Niagara district have been known for nearly half a century, and hundreds and perhaps thousands of papers have been published upon the falls of Niagara. Yet "problems settled in a rough and ready way by rude men absorbed in action demand renewed attention and show themselves to be unread riddles . . . when men have time to think." Even now it is scarcely fifteen years since the history of the falls began to be known.

If we look at a picture of the Falls of Montmorency, near Quebec (Fig. 3), cascading about two hundred and seventy-five feet over the wall of the St. Lawrence almost directly into the river