While various accounts from Samuel de Champlain’s reported visit in 1604 during his exploration of Canada described in his journals, or the more credible claim that it was the Belgian missionary Louis Hennepin that observed and described the falls in 1677 while traveling with explorer Rene Robert Carvelier, the Niagara Falls have long been frequented by travelers passing through the region and even today remains a popular tourist destination for those visiting Ontario. In fact by the mid-18th century tourism had become the region’s primary industry. Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother even visited for his honeymoon, helping the area earn the distinction of being the Honeymoon Capital of the World. Tourism however truly boomed after the American Civil War as the New York Central railroad began publicizing Niagara Falls as a destination and lead to the first steel archway bridge being completed in 1897 across the border known today as the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge and the oldest of the bridges spanning the Niagara River. Just over forty years later with the completion of the Rainbow Bridge a third crossing was established that allowed for both vehicular and pedestrian traffic and proved to be a timely investment as tourism boomed again with the proliferation of automobiles which made getting to the falls much easier after the First World War.
Today there’s even an airport on the American side of the falls that we’ve managed to get some very reasonably priced flights out of.