Niagara Gorge Natural History

Niagara Gorge Natural History (HM1F2U)

Location: Niagara Falls, NY 14305 Niagara County
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Country: United States of America
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N 43° 7.208', W 79° 3.878'

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Towards the end of the Ice Age, melt water from retreating glaciers filled in deep depressions, forming the Great Lakes. These lakes drained north over the Niagara Escarpment, and the Niagara River eroded the gorge to its present location. Today, many types of plants and animals exist in the unique environment of the Niagara Gorge.

The Whirlpool and Whirlpool Rapids gorge sections are believed to be part of the St. David's Gorge, carved out about 28,000 years ago before the Late Wisconsin ice advanced through the area and filled the old gorge with glacial debris. Niagara Falls intersected this buried gorge approximately 4,500 years ago and flushed out the glacial debris, opening the Whirlpool and Whirlpool Rapids section of the gorge.American Bittersweet. Celastrus scandens. This vine, with its flashy red seed surrounded by a bright orange husk, is easy to identify.Gray Catbird. Dumetella carolinensis. This gray songster can be identified by its black-capped head and by a small, hard-to-see chestnut spot under its tail. Teh catbird often flicks its tail and is known for its mewing call. Courtesy of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Photographer: Mike Hopiak.

Red-backed Salamander. Plethodon cinereus cinereus. There are a few variations of this salamander found in the gorge. Two of the most common are the red-backed variant, which has a red, orange, or light gray stripe down its back, and the leadback, which is uniformly dark gray to black. Photograph courtesy of Allen Blake Sheldon.

Northern White Cedar. Thuja occidentalis. This native tree is unique along the Niagara Gorge and escarpment. Some northern white cedars are well over 400 years old and may represent the oldest intact forest ecosystem in North America.

Butterfly-weed. Asclepias tuberosa. The orange flower heads of this plant are pollinated by strong, flying insects that have to pull at the hard sacs of pollen to release them.

HM NumberHM1F2U
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Wednesday, September 17th, 2014 at 4:54pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)17T E 657442 N 4775973
Decimal Degrees43.12013333, -79.06463333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 43° 7.208', W 79° 3.878'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds43° 7' 12.48" N, 79° 3' 52.68" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)716
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 101 Robert Moses Pkwy, Niagara Falls NY 14305, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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