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Interpreting the Evidence

Diagram of Erosion at Niagara Falls, 1917

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Era:

    Turn of the Century and WWI (1890 - 1930)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Lower Elementary
    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:


  • Primary Source Types:


  • Regions:

    Western New York
    New York State

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Diagram of Erosion at Niagara Falls, 1917 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
A diagram of Niagara Falls showing rock layers and illustrating the process of erosion, 1917.
Historical Context
Niagara Falls is a set of massive waterfalls located on the Niagara River in eastern North America on the border between the United States and Canada. The falls is the second-largest falls in the world after Victoria Falls in southern Africa. Niagara Falls is made up of three different falls: Bridal Veil Falls, Horseshoe Falls, and the American Falls.

Niagara Falls is only 12,000 years old.  It was created by the glaciers pressing down on the land and gouging out the surface, and then melting and releasing large amounts of water.  The falls are a valuable source of hydroelectric power for both Ontario and New York. 

Essential Question
How does geography influence human settlement patterns and economic systems?
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and explain the influence of geography on New York's settlement and economy.
Historical Challenges
Niagara Falls was the subject of what international treaty? How does this treaty affect erosion at Niagara Falls?
Interdisciplinary Connections
Science: What is the rate of erosion at Niagara Falls today? How and why has the rate of erosion at Niagara Falls changed in the past 100 years?
English Language Arts: Create a travel brochure for people visiting Niagara Falls. Include five interesting facts about the falls.