Guest Author - Karen Joyce Williams
Of the six bridges that span the vast Niagara River between the United States and Canada, The Rainbow Bridge is the most thrilling for visitors for its scenic drama and incredible roar and rumbling of the Falls below your feet.
Named for being structurally reminiscent of the misty rainbows seen daily hanging over the Falls, the bridge, built between 1940 and 1941 is not only a symbol of two cities: Niagara Falls, New York and Niagara Falls, Ontario, but a symbol of a relationship between the two countries. Do you know its nickname? It's called the Friendship Bridge.
The U.S. side of the bridge is actually quiet and picturesque. Just fringing the busier interior of the City of Niagara Falls, green spaces, picnic tables and sightseeing benches overlook the American Falls with their dramatic 200 foot drop of thundering water. Visitors can dine at The Red Coach Inn, a Tudor bed and breakfast built in 1923 with its quaint, English-inspired rooms overlooking the Upper Rapids.
In the evening, the light displays that transform the Falls into a picture postcard come to life. In the spring and summer months, fireworks shoot from both the Canadian and U.S. banks, illuminating the Horse Shoe Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and all of the nooks and crannies of the Niagara Gorge. Seeing the light shows from the Rainbow Bridge is a treat for any visitor, of any age.
Now walk across the 950 ft. expanse of the Rainbow Bridge to its midpoint and gaze out at one of the most incredible sights in North America! Depending on your citizenship, if you go any farther in either direction, you'll need your passport as there is a large customs house on the bridge. Travelers pay attention! They are very serious about checking passports, backpacks, and handbags.
On the Canadian side of the bridge there is immediately a hubbub of activity. In the warmer months, a carnival (great for bored kids who have just crossed the bridge from New York) excites with nightly entertainment. Restaurants, gift shops and casinos are close at hand, too, for those who are so inclined.
The backdrop to all of this activity is the thunderous sound of the mighty Niagara River with a current that flows at 26 to 30 miles hour. Upstream the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant on the U. S. side and the Sir Adam Beck Hydroelectric Power Stations on the Canadian side generate over 4.4 gigawatts of electricity. This adds up to over a quarter of all of the electricity used in New York State and Ontario combined, a symbol of the power of the Falls and humanity's ability to harness so vast a source of energy.
Take a short detour on your next trip to Niagara Falls and view the Falls from their dramatic center. Stroll above the falling thunder and listen to the sound of six million pounds of water per minute crossing the bridge under your feet. It is truly energizing!