A Natural Wonder: The Great Falls

Category: 
Nature

The centerpiece of the new National Park is a spectacular waterfall, the Paterson Great Falls. No natural wonder would have a greater impact on America's quest for independence and economic opportunities. And Paterson has the only National Historic District that includes both a National Natural Landmark and a National Historic Landmark. When Alexander Hamilton founded Paterson, the Great Falls was the most powerful waterfall in America. (The British still claimed the lands near Fort Niagara.)

The Great Falls remains the heart of Paterson. The Great Falls are 77 feet high, and over 260 feet wide. With up to two billion gallons of water plunging into a deep gorge each day, the Great Falls is an imposing testament to the force of nature and a living reminder of the birthplace of American industry. The first written account of a journey to the Great Falls dates back to 1680 and describes what one adventurous explorer called "the power and wonder of God." William Carlos Williams writes in his epic poem Paterson "The river comes pouring in above the city and crashes from the edge of the gorge in a recoil of spray and rainbow mists."