Niagara Falls (the falls), New York

Day 404

     I really wasn’t that impressed with Niagara Falls

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We were told not to upset the Gods

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     Tidbit of Information:  The falls was actually shut off in 1969. No water ran over it. From June to November 1969 the entire American rapids channel and falls was shut off by redirecting the flow of water for purposes of evaluating erosion of the falls, and determine if remedial action was required. A section of the overhang, which was deemed unsafe if nature allowed it to fall, was removed. It was decided to do no further alteration of the falls and let nature take it’s course, which means in 10,000 years the falls will have eroded entirley away. I  am glad we saw it today. 

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     This is  a picture of me inside the barrel just before I went over the falls:

Erie Canal, New York

Day 403 

     The Erie Canal opened on October 26, 1825 and is 363 miles long, 40 feet wide and 4 feet deep. It runs from the Hudson River to Lake Erie. Construction began in 1817 and has 83 locks. The last obstacle of the construction was crossing the Niagara Escarpment, an 80-foot wall carved by the Niagara River, to rise to the level of Lake Erie. This was done by constructing two sets of five locks in a series, soon giving rise to the community of Lockport, where we are today. 

     At the time, in 1823, this was an engineering marvel. Creating 5 locks in series, each raising the river (or lowering it) 12 feet. It was called “The Flight of Five”.

     Today, they no longer exist. With modern technology, and the fact that there are now railroads and the St. Lawrence Seaway, this section of the Erie canal is used only by pleasure boats and tourists. In 1910, the Canal was modernized, which signaled the end of the boomtown of Lockport. Today, it is merely a tourist attraction (which attracted us).

     In walking this area, we came across this upside down railroad bridge. 

     An interesting side attraction we visited was Raceway Tunnel, invented by Birdsill Holly. Basically, he built a tunnel in which he diverted part of the water from the Niagara River through a tunnel to power a turbine that he used to run his manufacturing company, which produced a water system to combat fires. 

     This system did not catch on as communities thought it not practical and too expensive. That is until October 8, 1871 the day Chicago burned to the ground. 

     We hiked through the now unused and dry tunnel, and then took a short boat ride on part of the underground river. 

Tonawanda, New York

Day 402

     We went to Tonawanda, New York, to visit Allan Herschell’s Carrousel Manufacturing Company, the maker of Merry-Go-Rounds. The Company operated from 1872 to 1915. 

     Over 3,000 hand-carved wooden carousels were made in this factory.

     Artisans were there demonstrating the making of the horses. 

     Of course, you can’t go to a carousel manufacturing company without riding a carousel.

     Tidbit of Information: What famous man, you never heard of, was born in Tonawanda, New York?  Hint:  He drafted the terms of surrender that Lee and Grant signed at Appomattox Court house that signaled the end of the Civil War. He was Ely Samuel Parker, a Seneca Indian, and a lieutenant Colonel in the Union Army. 

Fort Niagara Light

Day 401


     Believe it or not, of course if I am writing about it in this blog you can definitely believe it, early navigators in 1726 using Lake Ontario to the Niagara River used the plume of vapor hanging above the Niagara Falls as a navigation aid. On a clear day it could be seen up to 40 miles. Unfortunately, unless they went to night school, it was not much use other times.

     Some sort of navigation light was needed. It was not until about 1779 that a beacon was placed on top of Fort Niagara (that building behind the woman seen on Day 400). This light was removed about 1803, and was the first navigation light on the Great Lakes. 

     Subsequent lights were used at the Fort until 1872 when this stone lighthouse was constructed.


     This light was located further up the Niagara River at what is now called The Whirlpool. It remained in use until 1993 when it was replaced by a brighter light at the U.S. Coast Guard Station Niagara.

     Could it have been because 100 watts was not enough?

Lighthouse bulb


Fort Niagara, New York

Day 400

     It is hard to believe that we have been traveling the United States for 400 days. Today we are on Lake Ontario where it meets the Niagara River in Western New York. Day 400 Ft Niagara NY 3657_Fotor

     As early as 1678 the French claimed the area of what is now Canada and Northern New York, Ohio, and Michigan. All the area around the Great Lakes. However, by 1720 the British were encroaching with their 13 colonies and claims in Canada. To protect their interests, the French wanted to build a Fort where the Niagara River flows into Lake Ontario. This was a strategic area as the narrow river would allow the French to control who entered the river which connected to the other 4 Great Lakes.

     The Iroquois Confederacy, which consisted of 5 tribes, did not want the French building forts where they lived. In 1725 the French approached the Iroquois and ask if they could build a “House of Peace” as a trading post to help them trade with the Indians. The Indians said they could. 

     The French built the building behind this woman who got in my shot. 

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     It is really a fort in disguise. The building is three stories tall with thick stone walls and floor. The dormer windows are actually gun ports. They protrude from the building with a trap door so hot oil could be dropped on enemy intruders. It housed about 60 soldiers. It had a room for arms and munitions, chapel, bakery, and water well.

     In 1755 the fort was expanded as tension with England grew. Ramparts were built as well as earthworks with cannon protecting the entry to the river. 

     In the French and Indian War, the fort fell to the British in a nineteen-day siege in July 1759. The fort remained in British hands for the next thirty-seven years.

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     Fort Niagara was ceded to the United States after the Treaty of Paris ended the American War of Independence in 1783. Because the new United States did not have sufficient troops to claim the area, the region remained effectively under British control for another thirteen years until US troops showed up on August 11, 1796.

     On December 19, 1813, the British attacked the fort and took it from the American garrison. The conclusion of the war brought the fort back under an American Flag on May 22, 1815. 

Niagara Falls (the city), New York

Day 399

Trucker 2          Hanging out with the truckers on our way to Niagara Falls. 

     The first European to visit this area was Frenchman Robert de la Salle, born November 22, 1643, who was exploring the Great Lakes area for France around 1667 with Belgian priest Louis Hennepin, who was the first known European to see the falls. 

     The City of Niagara Falls was incorporated on March 17, 1892  

Technical Stuff:

Alexandra Bay, NY to Niagara Falls, NY: 244.9 miles

4 hours 51 minutes

11.5 MPG

Diesel: $2.39

Clayton, New York

Day 398

      So, who was Sophia LaLonde? Stay tuned for the thrilling answer. 

     John M. Clayton, born July 24, 1796, was an American lawyer and politician from Delaware. He served in the Delaware General Assembly, became a U.S. Senator from Delaware, and served as U.S. Secretary of State under President Zachary Taylor.  For some reason they named this seaside town in New York after him. 

     We strolled through the town to visit the 1000 Islands Museum. I hoped to find some interesting facts about the islands.

     When we were on Heart Island, we were informed that George Boldt would have lavish parties on his yacht on the St. Lawrence River. During one of those parties, the chef forgot the dressing for the salad and made a concoction of ingredients he had on board, which was named 1000 Island Dressing. 

     The 1000 Islands Museum had records that showed the dressing was actually made by, you guessed it, Sophia LaLonde. Her husband was a charter fishing boat Captain and Sophia, a gourmet cook, served this dressing at her “shore dinners” for his clients after the trip.

     After this exhausting research, we stopped at Coyote Moon Vineyards for refreshments on their outside deck.

    They had this interesting chandelle in their restroom:

     Well, it is time to move on: