The framing lines in pencil suggest that this composition was made in preparation for another, more finished work, possibly a print. Around 1828-1829, Cole made a drawing on stone for a lithograph, Falls at Catskill. Cole spent several days at Niagara Falls during May 1829. The technique of using a brush dipped in brown wash is unusual for Cole, and he relied on a pencil underdrawing to guide his brush. To suggest the spray billowing up from the falls in the distance, he rubbed the color off with a finger or rag to expose the white paper.