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while the height of the American Falls varies between 70 and 100 feet (21 and 30 m) because of the presence of giant boulders at its base.
The larger Horseshoe Falls are about 2,600 feet (790 m) wide, while the American Falls are 1,060 feet (320 m) wide.
The aerial photo on the right clearly shows the hard caprock, the Lockport Formation (Middle Silurian), which underlies the rapids above the falls, and approximately the upper third of the high gorge wall.
Further complicating matters, there is credible evidence the French Jesuit missionary Paul Ragueneau visited the falls some 35 years before Hennepin's visit, while working among the Huron First Nation in Canada.
Jean de Brébeuf also may have visited the falls, while spending time with the Neutral Nation.
In 1762, Captain Thomas Davies, a British Army officer and artist, surveyed the area and painted the watercolor, An East View of the Great Cataract of Niagara, the first eyewitness painting of the falls.
Theories differ as to the origin of the name of the falls. Red Jacket pronounced the word Niagara to me, in the spring of 1820, as if written O-ne-au-ga-rah.
According to Iroquoian scholar Bruce Trigger, Niagara is derived from the name given to a branch of the local native Neutral Confederacy, who are described as being called the Niagagarega people on several late-17th-century French maps of the area. A number of figures have been suggested as first circulating an eyewitness description of Niagara Falls.