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St. David's Buried Gorge

Left: Niagara River just north of the Whirlpool in autumn; Top Right: Niagara Gorge cliffs south of Whirlpool in autumn; Bottom Right: Whirlpool and up the Niagara River in autumn

 

General Information

The St. David's buried gorge existed 22,800 years ago. It was once a part of an ancient drainage system which extended the entire width of the NiagaraPeninsula. The St. David's Buried Gorge was approximately 1200 long, 305 meters wide, and 91 meters deep at the  whirlpool. Previously the gorge was 200 feet deeper than the depth of LakeOntario. The gorge extended into LakeOntario 2.4 kilometers (1.5 miles) west of the present Niagara River. The gorges original landscape is no longer visible however, as the widely recognized Whirlpool Gorge was formed in its place. Thus only remnants of its geologic origins exist.

 


TripClip Audio File

 

 


Hours of Operation

The Whirlpool Aero Car is open seasonally and is open daily from April 30 to November. Hours are subject to change.


Directions

From Toronto: Head Southwest on QEW approximately 108km

 
Slight left at King’s Highway 405 approximately 5.1km
 
Take Stanley Ave E Exit toward Niagara Falls approximately 0.6km
 
Merge onto Stanley Ave (south) approximately 1.2km
 
Left (southeast) at Whirlpool Rd approximately 1.3km
 
Right (southeast) at Niagara Parkway approximately 0.7km
 
Continue onto River Rd approximately 0.1km
 
Parking for Whirlpool Aero Car is on the left
 
 
From Fort Erie: Head west on QEW towards Exit 1A approximately 11.4km
 
Take Exit 12 for Netherby Rd towards Welland (north) approximately
0.7km
 
Left (north) at Niagara River Parkway approximately 10.7km
 
Continue onto Bridgewater St (southwest) approximately 0.5km
 
Right (northwest) at Welland River Bridge approximately 0.2km
 
Right (northeast) at Macklem St approximately 0.3km
 
Continue onto Niagara River Parkway (northwest) approximately 8.8km
 
Parking for Whirlpool Aero Car is on the right

geological significance

The St. David's Buried Gorge was once a channel for an ancient river that existed before the third Wisconsin Glacier had advanced. It is believed that the gorge was buried in glacial silt during this time approximately 12,000 years ago and failed to reopen.

 
When the Niagara Falls eroded the gorge to its present location at Thompson Point (where we find the Spanish Aero car attraction), the river found erosion of the rock much easier. This lead to the river breaking through the rock barrier which held back the glacial debris. It was later discovered that this had filled into what was previously the ancient gorge of the St. David's River. The Niagara River removed the present whirlpool area of all the glacial debris, and subsequently changed direction to follow the ancient gorge a short distance southward.
 
It is believed that the ancient St. David’s River was responsible for carving the now filled St. David's Buried Gorge and subsequently the Whirlpool Gorge from the rock.
 
The gorge was approximately 38 meters (125 feet) wide. During the advance of the late Wisconsin Glacier the ancient Whirlpool gorge and the St. David's gorge were filled with glacial debris. 

Historical

There have been many fossils found in the area. Some of the fossils found include:

 

Trilobites (Trilobata) - sea floor crustaceans (425-240 million years ago) found in Rochester, Grimsby and Clinton layers of rock

Snails (Gastropoda) - spiral shells of snails found in Silurian rocks

Sea Lilies (Crinoidea) - sea floor starfish (425 million years ago) found in Rochester shale rock layer - still in existence at bottom of Atlantic Ocean

 
Horn Coral (Enterolasma Caliculum) grew on sea bottom (425-400 million years ago) found in Lockport and Clinton layers of rock

Lamp Shells (Phyla Brachiopoda) - clam like shells, eighty different species found in the Clinton & Rochester rock layers

Nautilus (Cephalopod) - ancestors of nautilus, squid & cuttlefish (425 million years ago) found in Medina and Queenston rock layers

Recreational

Participating in the Whirlpool Aero Car Tour is provides an excellent opportunity for visitors to visualize the ancient landscape. The site is located to the southwest (left) of the attraction. This is where the ancient river changed its directional flow due to an increased resistance to erosion.

  

Google Paths

Below is the path with destinations along the way


View interactive map and turn-by-turn directions

Facilities

Benches, restrooms, snack bar souvenir shop

Admission Fee

Whirlpool Aero Car Tour Adults $11.50 Children $6.80 taxes not included

Address

Niagara Falls, Ontario

Telephone

(905) 354-5711

GPS Co-ordinates

Latitude 43.118622
Longitude -79.068732

Administration

St. David's Buried Gorge
3850 Niagara Parkway
Niagara Falls, ON
Tel (905) 354-5711

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