Terrapin Point

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Coordinates: 43°04′48″N 79°04′28″W / 43.080069°N 79.074403°W / 43.080069; -79.074403

Drawing, Niagara River and Falls in Snow, March 1856, by Frederic Edwin Church, shows the former boardwalk and Terrapin Tower
View of Horseshoe Falls from Terrapin Point

Terrapin Point (formerly Terrapin Rocks) is an observation area located in Niagara Falls, New York at the western tip of Goat Island, next to the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. It is one of two major observation areas to overlook the falls and lower Niagara Gorge on the New York side, the other being Prospect Point further downriver.

Before the second half of the 20th century Terrapin Point was a group of rocks on the brink of the falls, disconnected from Goat Island. They were known as the Terrapin Rocks because they resembled giant tortoises.[1]

From 1833 into the mid-1880s, Terrapin Rocks was the location of a boardwalk and Terrapin Tower, a lighthouse-type structure that was built over the river, just before the lip of the Horseshoe Falls. A series of footbridges connected the boardwalk and tower with Goat Island. The boardwalk, deemed unsafe, was dismantled by 1887.

While work was being carried out on the dredging of the upper Niagara River in 1953 to spread the flow of water more evenly along the crest of the Horseshoe Falls, dirt and fill from the dredging was taken over to Terrapin Point, increasing its area and affording visitors views of the cataract not seen before. This area was closed to tourists in 1969, however, due to cracks being found in the rock foundation.

Terrapin Point was closed to visitors after 1969 when a large crack in the rock was discovered.[2] In 1983 the United States Army Corps of Engineers blasted away 25,000 tons of unstable rock, added more landfill, and built diversion dams and retaining walls to force the water away from Terrapin Point. Altogether 400 feet (120 m) of the Horseshoe Falls was eliminated, including 100 feet (30 m) on the Canadian side. According to author Ginger Strand, the Horseshoe Falls is now entirely in Canada.[3] Other sources say "most of" Horseshoe Falls is in Canada.[4] The remaining surface was scaled, and reopened to tourists in September 1983.

It was off Terrapin Point that daredevil Nik Wallenda began his high-wire walk over the Falls in June 2012. Wallenda was the first to walk a high-wire directly over the brink of the Falls.


  1. ^ Berton, Pierre (2009). Niagara: A History of the Falls. SUNY Press. pp. 20–21. ISBN 978-1-4384-2928-1. Retrieved 1 December 2010.
  2. ^ http://www.niagarafrontier.com/cataract.html
  3. ^ Strand, Ginger (2009). Inventing Niagara: Beauty, Power, and Lies. Simon and Schuster. p. 195. ISBN 978-1-4165-4657-3. Retrieved 1 December 2010.
  4. ^ Vanderwilt, Dirk (2007). Niagara Falls: With the Niagara Parks, Clifton Hill, and Other Area Attractions, p. 35. Channel Lake, Inc., ISBN 978-0-9792043-7-1