Niagara Falls in Niagara County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
The First People to See the Falls
The first people to see Niagara Falls were probably nomadic hunters and gatherers who left behind evidence of their short-term camps and work areas in the form of tools and weapons. The Neutrals, known for their peaceful nature, followed, building villages on both sides of the Niagara River.
In the mid-17th century, the Senecas conquered the Neutrals. The Senecas were members of the Haudenosaunee (The People of the Longhouse), or Iroquois Confederation of Nations. By the beginning of the 18th century, the Iroquois were the most powerful Native Americans in the Great Lakes region.
The first Europeans to visit the area were French traders and missionaries in the 16th and 17th centuries. In 1678, Father Louis Hennepin, a Recollet monk of the Franciscan order, visited the falls. When Hennepin returned to France, he described his experience and commissioned a painting of the falls and their surroundings.
The Iroquois Tree of Peace by Dren Lyons. Courtesy Onondaga Savings Bank.
[map] The Iroquois Confederation, ca. 1600.
Iroquois pictographs: Corn, Deer, Sing, Heron, Sadness, Wiseman, Bear, Bark
Father Louis Hennepin's expression of wonder at seeing the falls on December 6, 1678. "Betwixt the Ontario and Erie, there is a vast prodigious Cadence of Water which falls down after a surprising and astonishing manner, insomuch that the Universe does not afford its Parallel. "Tis true, Italy and Suedeland boast of some such Things; but we may well say they are but sorry Patterns, when compared to this of which we now speak. At the foot of the horrible Precipice we meet with the River Niagara, which is not above half a quarter of a League broad, but is wonderfully deep in some places. It is so rapid above this Descent, that it violently hurries down the Wild Beasts while endeavoring to pass it, to feed on the other side; they not being able to withstand the force of its Current, which inevitably casts them down headlong above Six hundred foot."
Niagara Falls, from Hennepin's New Discovery, first English edition, 1699.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Environment • Exploration • Native Americans. A significant historical year for this entry is 1678.
Location. 43° 5.239′ N, 79° 4.075′ W. Marker is in Niagara Falls, New Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Niagara Falls NY 14303, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Hennepin View (a few steps from this marker); Height, Sight, and Flight / The Niagara River Corridor Important Bird Area (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Prospect Point Viewing Area (about 400 feet away); The Falls View Bridges (about 600 feet away); David Hill (about 700 feet away); Chief Clinton Rickard (about 700 feet away); Sophie Martin (about 700 feet away); Lake Ontario (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Niagara Falls.
Also see . . . Niagara Falls State Park. NY State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation website entry (Submitted on September 10, 2014, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York.)
Credits. This page was last revised on January 5, 2022. It was originally submitted on September 10, 2014, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York. This page has been viewed 505 times since then and 82 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on September 10, 2014, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.