Niagara Falls, formed by the forces of nature more than 12,000 years ago, was discovered by French explorer Father Louis Hennepin in 1678. Tourism to the falls began in the early 1800s. Initially, visitors traveled to the falls by boat. As railroads expanded across North America in the 1800s, eventually the Niagara Railway Suspension Bridge was built in 1855, but boats remained the main route for tourists to visit the falls until their use was gradually superseded in the early 1900s by automobiles, buses, and trains.
Niagara Falls received its reputation as the “Honeymoon Capital of the World” in 1801, when Theodosia Burr Alston (daughter of the 3rd Vice President of the United States, Aaron Burr) chose to honeymoon at the falls. Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother, Jerome Bonaparte, did the same in 1804, starting a popular tradition that continues to this day. Today, approximately 50,000 newly-wed couples visit Niagara Falls each year. Many choose to sign their names in register books that are kept by the Niagara Falls Tourism Office, which have been digitized and indexed for this collection.