I have worn Niagara Falls. No, seriously, I have worn the actually falls. There is this ferry boat company called Maid of the Mist, which takes people from the Canadian side of the falls, right up to the Horseshoe Falls (Niagara Falls is actually two falls).
I just stood on the right side of a Maid of the Mist boat (literally on the right side) and it pulled right on up into the massive, thick wall of mist generated at the Horseshoe Falls. I couldn't even see the falls itself, because the mist it generated was so thick.
Now, the folks up there use the word "mist" pretty loosely. It felt more like a monsoon-style, heavy rain that only hit one side of the boat. It was also extremely windy, which meant the hood of my Maid of the Mist-provided poncho kept blowing back, and I eventually quit trying to pull it back on my head.
And, despite having that poncho on, there was not an inch of my shirt that was dry when I got back on land. My pants were completely dry, but my shirt was soaked.
See, Canada got the luck of the draw at Niagara Falls. It is right at the U.S.-Canada border, but the two falls that are collectively known as "Niagara Falls" (the Horseshoe Falls, and the American Falls) face the Canadian side. The American Falls is 100 percent on the U.S. side of the Niagara River, but only one side of the Horseshoe Falls is on U.S. soil. The other side is in Canada.
And, of course, the river bends almost 90 degrees at the falls, so Canada got the best view.
I suppose that is why all of the fun stuff at Niagara Falls is on the Canadian side.
There are a couple of forts from the War of 1812 (to the U.S.'s credit, there is one fort from the same era on the New York side). There are also a couple of casinos, a place to walk BEHIND the falls, a Guiness World Records Museum, some horror theme park attractions, some wax museums, a Canadian-themed dinner theater show, a clock made out of flowers just outside the city, and a butterfly conservatory.
There is the Skylon Tower, from which people can view the falls. Of course, there is also a Hard Rock Cafe, Planet Hollywood and a Hershey's Store for the tourists.
Understandably, Canada was able to draw all of this because it got the better view of the falls, and people flock to its side for this reason.
The best the U.S. could muster for its side was a few souvenir shops, a casino of its own, and a big waterslide. Add that on top of the fact that it got the crummy view of the falls, and it's not really much to write home about on our side of the border.
If I lived on the U.S. side of Niagara Falls, I would be kinda peeved about the whole thing.
Then again, the exchange rate between Canadian and U.S. dollars is almost one for one ($1 in U.S. currency equals roughly $1.02, to $1.04 in Canadian currency, which means you pay less for something than a Canadian does). You also get American cell phone coverage, so you don't get hit with roaming rates.
The only thing you have to deal with is border security, which can be useful as a buffer from traffic coming from all the Canadian attractions. Maybe Canada having all the fun stuff is not such a bad thing after all.
All in all, if you're from the U.S. side of Niagara Falls, you might just be feeling pretty lucky about where you live.
Curt Yeomans covers education for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.