One of the earliest souvenirs of Niagara Falls were the Termination Rock certificates. These were given when a person navigated the "dangerous" trip down the rather rickety wooden stairs and walked behind the great sheet of falling water. There were also other souvenirs such as petrified mist and bottles of water from the falls. Still later such things as slats from the barrel that daredevil Annie Taylor used to go over the falls, pictures of the Great Blondin as he crossed over the falls on his tightrope and daguerreotypes of people at the Falls were very popular.
Many of these souvenirs, as viewed from our time, can be understood as "fakes" but they were very popular during the middle to late 1800's and 1900's. Some of these souvenirs were made by the Native American population that lived near the Falls. Most of these items were hand made and one-of-a-kind items which are highly valued collectibles today. Later, as this became a profitable enterprise, it was taken over by American and Canadian business men. These men then produced these items in mass quantities and presented them as authentic items.
Today, people can purchase a myriad of souvenirs from the Falls. Any item that can conceivably be sold, from feathers to expensive oil paintings, is sold. Most people purchase these items either to take back home a memory, as a gift for someone else (as in Japanese omiyage) or simply to have something to 'brag' about. Two of the most common souvenirs are postcards and pictures. When visiting the Falls it is not uncommon to have people ask you to take their photographs. Most of the time they are all standing in the same general area, mainly prescribed places. If you don't have a camera you can buy one in the local gift shops.
The kinds and amounts of souvenirs available for purchase has changed over the years. The reasons people want and buy souvenirs has not. People still want to carry home a keepsake, a moment frozen in time by a photograph, or some other little trinket to remind them of their visit to the Falls. Sometimes, people show these "treasures" to their friends and family and sometimes they are packed away in a box and brought out once in a while. Whatever they do with their treasures one can almost be certain they feel as though they have taken their experience home with them.