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Principal Waterfalls of the World (1945) by C. Frank Brockman


Comparison of Some of the
PRINCIPAL WATERFALLS OF THE WORLD

Although a number of famous waterfalls occur elsewhere, notable among the world’s areas for features of this type are the mountainous areas of our own west, the sharply incised coastal regions of southeastern Alaska, the fjords of Norway, the Alps and other important European mountain regions, the rugged area of northern South America and South Africa.

Comparison of waterfalls of the world is exceedingly difficult—indeed, almost impossible—for in addition to the fact that they are of many and varied types, there are still some little-known sections of the world in which further exploration may reveal falls of great height, volume or beauty. In addition, accurate data upon height and other related features are difficult to obtain and figures given in equally reliable references often vary on specific falls. Furthermore, computation of height in the case of waterfalls is not judged in the definite manner which characterizes the determination of elevations of high mountains. Many falls leap over a succession of intermittent precipices in the course of their total drop and it is often difficult to rate them on the basis of several individual falls or on the basis of one. Therefore, although visitors to Yosemite constantly desire comparative information on the falls of this region and those of other sections of the world, there can be no real comparison because of the lack of a suitable “common denominator” to serve as a basis.

Generally speaking, waterfalls achieve renown on the basis of height, breadth, volume, picturesque nature of form and surroundings, and in some instances, the association which they may have with famous literature or with events of the past. Still another factor must also be considered—the height of clear or free leap which is of considerable importance in the case of the falls of Yosemite.

However, a study of the world’s famous falls will reveal that they divide more or less naturally into two main groups. In one class are those which possess great volume and vast power which has as its outstanding exponents Niagara, Victoria Falls of the Zambesi in Africa, and Iguassu on the river of the same name in South America. The second type extols great height and delicate beauty, with Angel Fall of Venezuela, Yosemite, Sutherland Falls of New Zealand, or Kalambo in Africa as prime examples.

Approached from this point of view, and recognizing that there can be no real comparison between those of the two groups mentioned, the following discussion briefly outlines the characteristics of some of the principal waterfalls of the world which have, for one reason or another, impressed themselves upon the mind of man.

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