Thousands of people filled the churches to attend special services. They prayed for the falls to start flowing and the world to continue, or for salvation and forgiveness of their sins as the Last Judgment approached.
No one knew why the falls had stopped. The telegraph was still a new invention. Railroads served towns on both sides of the river, but the tracks were unreliable, and Buffalo — the nearest big city — was three hours away even when the trains ran on schedule.
But it was from Buffalo that word eventually arrived that explained the bare falls and dry riverbed. A strong southwest gale winds had pushed a huge chunks of lake ice to the extreme northeastern tip of Lake Erie, blocking the lake’s outlet into the head of the Niagara River. The ice jam had become an ice dam.
On the evening of March 31st, a great wall of water flowed down the riverbed and things were back to normal. Link