Tag Archive | Niagara Falls New York

Circus Trip 2018: Fort Niagara

Day 44, Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Fort Niagara State Historic Park, Youngstown, New York

Fort Niagara has a history of white colonial settlement that spans over 300 years.

The first fort on this site was established by the French in 1679; they named it Fort Conti, and it wasn’t occupied for long.  The French returned again to establish Fort Denonville between 1687 and 1688.  It wasn’t until 1726 that the first permanent structure was built; a stone building known as the French Castle that still stands on site today!  Additional structures were built between 1756 and 1758.  In 1759 the British gained control of the fort during the French and Indian War, and it was British until the Revolutionary War was won, and the Americans were the proud new owners of Fort Niagara.

Of course, the British weren’t known for giving up so easily and they briefly reconquered Fort Niagara between 1813 and 1815, during the perhaps not-so-aptly named War of 1812.  The Americans got it back at the end of the War of 1812, and Fort Niagara never saw combat again.


The Fort did continue operating as a peaceful border post, and American troops were stationed here during the Civil War.  It was common during the early years of the Civil War to parole enemy troops, with the condition that they not return to fighting for a year.  The parolees at Fort Niagara were put to work building stuff.  Troops were trained here during both World Wars as well, and the last troops were finally withdrawn in 1963.  Since then, the Coast Guard is the only military branch that is on site.


Of course, Native Americans from the Seneca tribe were in the area long before the Europeans came along.  The Seneca was using the area around Fort Niagara as a seasonal hunting and fishing camp through the 1600s.

While I was there, I got to explore the buildings, and I also got to see both a cannon firing and a musket firing demonstration!  Apparently they used to lob tennis balls into the water when they did the cannon firing demonstrations, but the Canadian government asked them to stop, so now the demonstration does not include a projectile.  That’s better for the environment!


This was such a cool place to visit!


Circus Trip: Niagara Falls

Day 42 & 43, Sunday & Monday, August 26 & 27, 2018

Niagara Falls, New York

Sunday was a drive day, from where I had been hanging out in southwest Pennsylvania to New York.  A new state!  I had been to New York before – I took a trip to visit a friend after I graduated from graduate school with my MBA.  She was living on Long Island and working as a nanny, so we checked out Long Island, and took some trips into the city as well.  Of course, that was a few weeks before 9/11, so that gives you an idea of how long it had been since I was in New York!  17 years!

Anyway, on this trip I drove north through Pittsburgh, where the traffic was a nightmare, even on a Sunday…  It was one of the longest drives of my entire trip, spanning about 6 hours of driving. I was excited to arrive in Niagara Falls and get set up at a KOA Kampground to relax a bit.

Monday morning, I got up and was ready to visit the falls!  I had never been, but had heard so much about Niagara Falls and seen so many photos, videos and movies of them over the years!

Niagara Falls is located on the Niagara River, which empties Lake Erie into Lake Ontario.  It is actually made up of three different waterfalls; American Falls, Bridalveil Falls and Horseshoe Falls, on the Canadian side of the river.  Horseshoe Falls is technically the tallest, because it plunges 188 feet to the river below.  American Falls ranges from 70 to 110 feet.  Why the difference when they fall from the same river at the same spot?  Well, they measure the plunge, and American Falls has giant boulders at the bottom of the waterfall that mark where the measurement ends.  Horseshoe falls is also wider, at 2,200 feet wide compared to American Falls 850 feet.  Bridalveil Falls is the narrow little waterfall in between the two, that doesn’t get much of a mention.

Niagara Falls isn’t the world’s tallest waterfall by a long shot; there are over 500 falls that are taller.  It’s the flow of water over the falls that puts it into the record books.  This force and volume of water creates the roaring sound and the mist that makes Niagara Falls so impressive!  Niagara Falls was formed about 12,500 years ago at the end of the last ice age, and this force is quickly (in terms of geological events anyway) eroding the bedrock beneath the waterfall.  Since official measurements began, Niagara Falls has eroded an average of 3 feet per year, but flow control in recent years has lowered that to about 1 foot per year.  Scientists estimate that the falls have moved back along the river almost 7 miles in the last 11,000 years!

The day I visited I wandered in awe of the beauty and force of this amazing natural feature.  It was stunning, and peaceful, and yes, the volume of tourists were a bit of a distraction.  Of course I was one of them!  I wasn’t feeling well that day, so I didn’t do the boat tour, or a tour where you can walk out on a viewing platform to get covered in mist. One day I would like to go back and do those.  On my return I’ll cross over to the Canadian side and see it from that angle too.

What an incredible scenic wonder!

On my drive back to camp, I found this chimney, so I stopped to check it out.  It was built in 1750 by the French, and reused in several successive buildings after each one was burned down.  The remaining chimney was finally moved to this spot in 1898 by the Niagara Falls Power Company, to commemorate the history of the area.  It’s nice to see that they saved it!