The Great Falls of the Passaic River is a prominent waterfall, 77 feet (23 m) high, on the Passaic River in the city of Paterson in Passaic County, northern New Jersey, New Jersey United States. The falls and surrounding area are protected as part of the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park, administered by the National Park Service. Congress authorized its establishment in 2009.
One of the United States’ largest waterfalls, it played a significant role in the early industrial development of New Jersey starting in the earliest days of the nation. It is part of the Great Falls of Paterson–Garret Mountain National Natural Landmark. It has also been designated as a National Historic Landmark District since 1976. The Great Falls’ raceway and power systems were designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark and a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark in 1977.
Geologically, the falls were formed at the end of the last ice age, approximately 13,000 years ago. Formerly the Passaic had followed a shorter course through the Watchung Mountains near present-day Summit. A newly formed moraine blocked the river’s previous course as the glacier receded. A large lake, called Glacial Lake Passaic, formed behind the Watchung. As the ice receded, the river found a new circuitous route around the north end of the Watchung, carving the spectacular falls through the underlying basalt, formed approximately 200 million years ago. EZ Bed Bug Exterminator NJ
The falls later became the site of habitation of the historic Lenape Native Americans, who followed earlier indigenous cultures in the region. Later, in the colonial era, Dutch settlers developed a community here beginning in the 1690s.
National Natural Landmark
The Great Falls of Paterson – Garret Mountain is a National Natural Landmark designated in January 1967 and was expanded in April 1967 to include nearby Garret Mountain. They help demonstrate how jointed basaltic lava flow shaped the geology during the Early Mesozoic period through extrusion and intrusion. The designation protects the site from federal development but not local and state action. Redevelopment of the decayed adjacent industrial areas has been an ongoing controversial topic. In the 1990s, redeveloping the adjacent Allied Textile Printing Co. (ATP) facility, destroyed by fire in the 1980s, into prefabricated townhouses was initially approved by the city but later repelled by a coalition of local citizens seeking to preserve the historic character of the district.
In Popular Culture
The unique history of the Great Falls in New Jersey, NJ and the city were described in the five-volume philosophical poem Paterson by William Carlos Williams. Among the episodes described in Williams’ poetry is the 1827 leap over the falls by Sam Patch, who later became the first known person to perform a stunt at Niagara Falls. The 2016 film Paterson, directed by Jim Jarmusch, is partly inspired by the works of Williams and features the falls as a primary location.
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