Yesterday at Niagara Falls - Stories from the Past








A New Discovery at Niagara Falls

September 26th 1874


The Niagara Falls Gazette tells of explorations that have been made behind the American Fall, entering from below Prospect Park. All descriptions represent the trip behind the great Fall to be unrivalled for weirdness of scene and novelty of experience. Fascinating as is the cave under the Luna Island Fall, the unexplored mysteries of the wild and tumultuous recess behind the American Fall shadow the interest in the wonders of the old cave. Since the organization of the Prospect Park Company it has been contemplating setting approaches to this new cave, and building such mechanical helps as may be found practical to facilitate pleasure trips behind the sheet.

Last season Conroy and Mumford, the well-known guides made a thorough examination of the entrance, extending their trip around the first bend in the precipice. The floor was found perfectly smooth with a sheet of comparatively still water some 3 feet deep overlaying it.

Since this trip last season the cave has not been entered until on Monday of last week when Conroy and Mumford volunteered to guide a stranger through the explored portion of the place. The stranger, Mr. George B. Johnson, of New Orleans, thus has won the distinction of being the first visitor to Niagara who has ever been behind the American Fall. The party pressed their investigation over 200 feet behind the sheet.

Conway expressed his conviction that a passageway extends through to Goat Island - a path which can be treaded with safety, and which he intends at some future day to explore. Mr. Johnson was lavish in his expressions of delight with the trip, which he pronounced on equalled for strangeness on the face of the earth.






Conduit Flooding Began

December 31st 1960


A significant milestone was reached on the Niagara Power Project on December 31st 1960 when the intake gates on the upper river were open for the first time to let water flow through the twin conduits. 

By January 6th 1961 water in the forebay of the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant at Lewiston had reached a depth of 66 feet, the normal operating depth. Water in the open canal between the Reservoir Pump Generating Plant and the Moses Plant reached a depth of 54 feet. The open canal slopes down into the forebay. 

When filling of the waterways began on December 31st, water was entering the West conduit at about 450 cubic feet of water per second. The conduit gate was gradually raised to permit the flow to increase to 2,000 cubic feet per second. Wide open, the twin conduits can take 83,000 cubic feet per second.




Doring Band Played In Cave Of Winds


The famous Doring Band of Troy, 40 pieces strong, delighted a large gathering of Falls Street residents and visitors last night with a concert in front of the Clifton Hotel. This band is one of the most famous musical organizations in New York State, the winner of numerous prizes in competition with the best bands in the country. At the Elks convention in Buffalo, the Doring band was awarded 1st prize.

Considerable local interest attaches to the visit of the band to the city, not alone because of the excellence of the music that it produces, but because the band has a proud distinction of being the only musical organization that ever competed with the music of the tumbling waters of Niagara.

In 1865 this band visited Niagara Falls, and at the suggestion of some poetic spirit, every last member of the organization donned rubber suits, covered their instruments, and descended to the cave of the winds. There, in the presence of the waterfall, the bands men discoursed melodies in unison with the cataract. Major S. M. N. Whitney remembers the occasion very well but there are few other residents of the city that had the pleasure of hearing the odd concert.




Illumination Of Niagara Falls

August 10, 1844 [Baltimore Sun]

A visitor at the falls thus writes the editor of the Brooklyn Star:-

"The spray which rises from the horseshoe fall to a great height, I think contains a jet of hydrogen gas, and I regretted much that I had not brought a ball of plutonium sponge which I had prepared with a tube and a pole to place in this jet, thus igniting the gas and producing a blaze which would surpass in the splendor of its greatest coruscations the great hydrogen walls of the great Kenawha.,

The falls would make a splendid bonfire; and if I am right in supposing a column of hydrogen to pass upward from this cataract, the blaze would be almost perpetual."




Maid of the Mist Pays Government


September 19, 1895 - Niagara Falls, New York


A new order of things went into effect here this morning by order of the Collector Richmond under instructions from the Department at Washington. The Maid of the Mist Company must pay 20¢ to the government every time the boat or boats touched the dock on this side of the river with a cargo, no matter whether there is one passenger or 50.

This is in accordance with a law of Congress which went into effect July 1st. In the summer excursion time the Maid of the Mist runs every 25 minutes and Master R. F. Carter must make out a manifest to give to the customs officer every time the boat touches the American dock. If there was only one passenger on board the company gets 30¢ and the government 20¢. This new order of things will certainly materially lessen the net receipts of the company. The compliance also entails considerable labour in filling out the manifest and making affidavit. The order, of course, applies all along the frontier and it is stated that it practically prohibits rowboats from doing any ferry business at Lewiston and Youngstown.





Blondin's Narrow Escape

Chicago, Illinois


It isn't always safe to place too much confidence in strangers, as a good many victims of the bunco game have found to their cost. Sometimes physical danger results, as in the case of Blondin's narrow escape.

Blondin, the renowned rope-walker usually carried a man upon his back when walking the tight-rope. Formerly he was wont to bargain with some one to accompany him on his dangerous journey. On the occasion of a performance in Chicago, a man offered his services gratis.

Blondin accepted them and ascended to the rope with his living burden. When the pair had reached the middle of the rope the man began to laugh heartily.

"What is it that amuses you?" the rope-walker asked with astonishment.

"Oh, a comic idea has just struck me. I was thinking what sort of face you would pull if, during the next half minute, both of us were to fall down upon the audience."

"But we shall not fall," replied Blondin reassuringly.

"But I have determined upon this occasion to take my life."

At the same moment the man began to wriggle about so that the rope-walker nearly lost his balance. He however, soon composed himself, dropped his balancing-pole and gripped the man so firmly with his hands that the latter was unable to move.

Blondin then, continuing his walk, although in a great state of trepidation, he arrived safely at the end of the rope, and allowing his living burden to slide from his shoulders, he administered a box on both ears with such force that the would be suicide fell down unconscious.

Since that terrible journey Blondin has carried only one man, his true and faithful son, on every occasion.





Halts On Wire Over Niagara


Performer Houdin Tries to Cross Gorge - Held 200 Feet over River till Saved


Niagara Falls, New York - June 14th 1910


The Great Houdin, a tight-wire performer, entertained a holiday crowd this afternoon at an international carnival here, but hardly in the manner he intended. He was on the programme for a trip across the Niagara Gorge on a quarter inch diameter cable, holding fast by his teeth. His wire was stretched 100 feet below the Upper Steel Arch Bridge, a point where it was intended his feat would be witnessed by a crowd of 80,000 assembled on the State Reservation, as well as in Queen Victoria Park.

He mounted his wire and began sliding from the New York bank toward the Canadian shore. Houdin was waving the flags of both countries as he slid along the wire. A slope was planned for the wire, but the weight of his body quickly pulled the strand, making it too slack. Houdin had to stop at a point over the centre of the river approximately 1,100 feet from the American shore and still 600 feet away from completing his journey. For a few minutes the immense audience applauded his feat, but when he did not continue toward Canada It was apparent that he was in difficulties, which he indicated by waving flags. Awe-stricken, the crowds looked on while the man, diminutive in form, struggled to retain his hold on the small pulley from which he was suspended. Houdin grabbed the cable with both his hands and then crossed his legs over the wire and hung that way for 45 minutes until he could be rescued. Houdin was not more than 200 feet north of the Upper Steel Arch Bridge that had been closed to traffic sometime before his scheduled trip however there were several hundred people on the bridge watching as events unfolded

Firemen were called and responded with several hundred feet of rope. A loop was tied in the rope around the cable with about 300 feet on one side and several hundred feet on the other. One end was thrown over the bank and the foreman slid it along on the cable by walking along on the bridge. Houdin had shifted his position repeatedly and when the rope finally neared him, he almost lost his balance as he reached for it, so eager was he to accept the succor offered. When it was seen that he had grasped the rope, a cheer went up from the anxious crowd that could be heard above the roar of the great cataract. When it reached Houdin the rope was cast off from the bank and it dropped to the lower river where the steamer Maid of the Mist observing that something was amiss picked up the lower end. The little steamer struggled with the current, but kept well under Houdin, who safely lowered himself hand over hand to reach the boat, a distance of nearly 200 feet. Another great cheer arose when Houdin was hauled safely aboard and sank to the deck completely exhausted.

Houdin's real name was Oscar Williams, a steeplejack from Niagara Falls, NewYork.


Niagara Falls, New York - June 28th 1911

On June 28th 1911, Houdin returned to Niagara Falls to mark the closing of the annual Niagara International Carnival. Other star performers included Lincoln Beachey and Robert Leach. A crowd of 300,000 spectators had gathered to watch the events.

Leach shot the Whirlpool Rapids in a steel barrel where he became stranded in the whirlpool before being rescued. Beachey had flown his bi-plane over the Horseshoe Falls and under the Upper Steel Arch Bridge the day before without incident. Today Beachey battling high winds narrowly escaped crashing into the river below.

Houdin had undertaken to repeat his failed feat from the previous year by sliding by his teeth across the Niagara Gorge situated under the Upper Steel Arch Bridge. This time Houdin began his slide for life on the Canadian shore. Within 100 feet of the American shore, Houdin became stranded once more because of a slack wire. Houdin remained marooned until he was hauled ashore by rope.





Will Turn Off Niagara Falls To Repair Lip

Friday, January 15, 1954

Canada and the US today took their first major step to preserve and enhance the scenic beauty of Niagara Falls.

The International Niagara Board of Control announced the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario has awarded a $1,813,149 contract to Canadian Vickers Limited. The company will build 13 bascule-type gates and operating machinery for the control structure in the Niagara at the head of the cascades about a mile above the Horseshoe Falls.

The total cost of the remedial works is estimated at $17,536,000 with an estimated annual cost for maintenance and operations of $100,000. Cost of the works and the operation and maintenance will be divided equally between the two governments.

To accomplish these engineering feats, the contractors will have to divert the roaring water temporarily and lay bare the lip of the Horseshoe Falls. Then workmen hanging on the brink of the 160 foot drop, must fill two sections like dental cavities and treat them to prevent their further crumbling.



Squirrel Swims Niagara's Rapids

Thursday September 6, 1923

A red squirrel successfully swam the Rapids above the American Falls.

The squirrel fell into the stream from a log a few hundred yards above the cataract and was swept out in the current. It succeeded in reaching a rock some distance out in the river.

Reservation employees saw the little animals predicament. They obtained a long ladder and shoved it out to the rocks, thinking the squirrel would scramble over it to shore. But it disdained the improvised bridge and plunged into the stream, landing on the mainland shore, after a desperate struggle, only a few feet from the brink the falls.



The Dog That Stopped A Power Plant

Monday November 22nd 1926

On the morning of Monday November 22nd 1926, Roland Cody of Main Street went duck hunting with his 2 year old English Retriever dog named "Noodles". They began hunting in the Niagara Gorge along the shore of the river near the Ontario Power Company Powerhouse (OPC) at the base of the Horseshoe Falls. The dog was sent into the turbulent water of the river to retrieve a duck. After retrieving the duck, Noodles found herself in the strong tailrace currents of the Ontario Power Plant and was pushed into the middle of the river on numerous occasions. Between both the tailrace, the currents and whirlpools from the Falls, the dog struggled to swim to shore for an hour and fifteen minutes without success. For the first fifteen minutes, Noodles dutifully swam with the duck in her mouth. Many employees of the Ontario Power Company looked on unable to give the animal any assistance. Master mechanic McLeod recognizing Noodles plight notified chief operator Mr. Rapelje who in turn notified the OPC Superintendent H.M. King.

Superintendent H. M. King authorized the currents to be stopped from the turbines for one minute in order to give the dog a chance to swim to shore. Noodles was able to swim to shore to rocks in front of the power house where she lay exhausted.

Andy Carson (rigger foreman) and his crew wasted no time in lowering a rope from the top of the powerhouse a distance of 100 feet (30m). Crew member Fred Pow repelled down the rope to the rocks below and quickly tied a rope around the dog. Noodles was quickly pulled to the roof and the rope was then thrown back down to Mr. Pow who made his accent. Noodles was undaunted by her experience and wanted to continue hunting. She had escaped from the treacherous currents that had previously taken the lives of nearly a dozen (12) dogs and appeared none the worse for the adventure.

Noodles became the only animal in history to have caused the shutdown of an entire power station. Today hunting in any area of the Niagara Gorge is prohibited.



Niagara Falls - Sounds You Cannot Hear


Thunder of Niagara is so deep toned that you can only feel It.

The deepest note which can actually be heard by human ear is produced by an organ pipe 32 feet long. 

If you throw a stone into a pool, you will see a number of ripples spreading from the splash in circles.  If you blow a whistle or beat a drum you make a splash of the same kind in the air, and little ripples spread out all around.  When they break in the drum of the human ear, the brain is conscious of a sound. 

If the little waves are ripples in the air are quite regular in the proportion of 8, 16, 32 ripples per second, the results are perfect musical notes.

Now, the 32 foot organ pipe produces exactly 16 waves or vibrations every second.  When the  "Dead March in Saul."  is played,  for instance, on the great organ of St. Paul's Cathedral that note may be distinctly heard like the boom of artillery, shaking the whole building to its foundations.

But the deeper notes than that can be only felt, though they make no sound.  In the Thunder of Niagara, you can feel the shocks and actually count them as they beat upon the eardrum at a rate of eight vibrations a second.

Yet even that is not the deepest note, for when the volcano of Krakatoa blew up in Sunda Straits, between the islands of Java and Sumatra in Indonesia, every observatory in the world very shortly recorded the explosion.  The delicate meteorological instruments actually recorded a note of four vibrations a second, which could not possibly have been heard by mortal ears.




Back of Niagara Falls

A remarkable sight to be seen from the tunnel under the horseshoe.

April 17th 1904

Three companies are now working hard on the Canadian side of Niagara to prepare for generating electrical power from the falls. Two of these companies are controlled by American capital, the third exclusively by Canadian and English capital. All expect to sell their product on the Canadian side and to distribute power to points as much as 200 miles distant from the falls. Each company has encountered some interesting engineering problems in the course of the work. One company, for example, has had to plan for a roof of unusual strength over its powerhouse, because it is expected that the spray from the falls in winter will thatch the roof with 5 feet of solid ice.

No part of the work is more interesting than undertaking by the Canadian company. The penstock, or great trench, of this company, at the bottom of which will be placed the turbines that are to generate the power, is 1900 feet from the center of the Horseshoe Falls.

This trench is said to be 150 feet deep by 400 feet long and 30 feet wide. The problem presented was to discharge the water from the bottom of this trench after it passed through the turbines and done its work.

The engineers decided that in order to accomplish this a tunnel should be extended from the bottom of the penstock to the center of the Horseshoe Falls. For this purpose a shaft about 10 feet square, was sunk on the Canadian side a little above the falls to a depth of about 150 feet.

From the bottom of the shaft was dug a tunnel to a point a few hundred feet above the center of the falls to meet the line of the 1900 foot tunnel that is to run directly from the bottom of the penstock to the center of the falls. When this line was struck the workmen began tunnelling directly toward the penstock.

In order to make the removal of the debris easy, there was dug from the tunnel leading from the 10 foot shaft a short tunnel to a point beneath the falls and pretty close to the Canadian side. One may now stand at the mouth of this tunnel within a few feet of the whole mass of Niagara's fast downpour, and looking through the roaring sheet see the dim, transfused light of day outside. Those who have had this privilege say it is a wonderful site.

When the tunnel to the penstock has been completed, it will be extended from the point of intersection of the working tunnel from the 10 foot shaft to the center of the falls at a depth of about 150 feet. This whole 1900 foot tunnel will eventually be horseshoe shaped with a vertical diameter of 30 feet, and a horizontal diameter of 20 feet.

The horizontal bottom paved with solid blocks of stone, will be 14 feet wide. Along this tunnel, the wastewater from the penstock will flow to discharge itself into the volume of the Horseshoe Falls some feet above the bottom.

Already a considerable part of the tunnel to the penstock has been dug, and the debris is being daily dumped at the mouth of the short auxiliary tunnel opening beneath the falls near the Canadian side. It will take five months to complete the tunnel, and probably a year to get the power station in running order.

When running full it will generate 150,000 hp. Engineers from the city who have seen the work in progress, describe it as of great interest and marvellously ingenious in the way means have been adapted to the ends to be accomplished.




Horses and Wagon Falls Into Gorge 

May 31, 1854

It's been several days since a wagon and two horses slipped over the bank of the Niagara River at the rear of the Clifton House near the falls and fell a distance of 150 feet to a projection about two thirds down the precipice where they lodged. One of the horses escaped without serious injury while the other was killed. The wagon was undamaged with the exception of a broken axle. The living horse was with some difficulty lowered to a raft beneath by means of ropes and towed safely to the landing place.




Fish Pirate Blown Up 

August 1st 1905

Bullhead Johnson victim of dynamite used in his illegal business

Bullhead Dick Johnson, the most daring fish pirate on the Niagara Frontier, was instantly killed at about four o'clock this morning while trying to dynamite fish in the Niagara River, opposite Tonawanda. 

Charles Duffy and Charles St.Inges, the latter a son-in-law of Bullhead, were with Johnson at the time.  The three were in a rowboat when Johnson tried to throw a stick of dynamite into the River. The dynamite fell into the boat and exploded there. The explosion tore both arms from Johnson's body and severed the head completely at the neck.

Duffy, who was in the middle of the boat, was badly lacerated, both legs and St.Inges, who was in the bow escaped without a scratch. The boat sank. 




Fatal Train Crash at Black Rock

September 29th 1882

On September 29, 1882 at 5:30 p.m., a serious and fatal accident occurred at the International Railway Bridge which crosses the Niagara River at Black Rock (Buffalo-Fort Erie).

The steamer, Falcon was approaching the drawbridge. The bridge was opened for her to pass. At the same time the dummy train engine used to carry passengers over the bridge was making the last trip for the night. From some cause the engineer did not perceive the drawbridge had been open and the dummy engine plunged into the river.

Edward Bohn, the engineer, and Edward Hershy, of Bertie Ontario were killed instantly. The others on board were Mrs. J. W. Parmelee, of Victoria, Canada: John Connell and Miss Connell, of Albany, New York, and conductor James Haggert. All were seriously bruised, but were rescued by the Falcon.

Malcolm Colough, the bridge superintendent, was standing on the platform of the car, but jumps to the bridge as the car went over.




Maria Spelterini at Niagara

July 1, 1876

A Lady to Cross the River on a Single Rope

The great sensation of the present day in the amusement world is the projected trip across Niagara River of a young lady, lately arrived from Europe, and known as the Signorina Maria Spelterini. This young artiste arrived in New York about two months ago, and has since been quietly making preparations to accomplish the feat that gave Blondin a world wide reputation.

During her stay in the city the Spelterini gave two representations at Jones' Wood, and perform feats on the high rope 100 feet above the ground that at once convinced the spectators of her perfect right to cucomiums, she has received from the European press.

Some well-known managers who were present at her initial performance freely express the opinion that she excelled in grace and daring any artiste that has ever visited this country. A Herald reporter paid Miss Spelterini a visit yesterday afternoon, and in the course of a conversation learned the following facts:

She was born Livorno, Italy and made her first appearance in public with her father's company when she was three years of age. She performed until she reached the age of 10 upon the tight rope and then commenced the slack-wire and the rolling globe. In the two last acts, she achieved a brilliant success, performing for two years in Berlin and Vienna.

In 1871, she went to Russia had made such a great success upon the high rope that she adopted that branch of her profession entirely and gave it her sole attention. She is gifted with wonderful nerve, combined with cool daring, and during her entire career, she never made a single mistake, although on several occasions, she was only saved from accident by great presence of mind.

In 1873, when performing in Surrey Gardens, London, on the day the Alexandria Palace was destroyed by fire, she was standing on a platform waiting to commence her act when the rope broke. The shock threw down the pole on the other end. The one supporting the platform on which she stood rocked violently as her assistant was jumping about and about to throw himself off, but she caught him by the hair of his head and made him stand still until assistance was brought, and they both landed on terra firma safe and sound.

On one occasion, when performing at night in Jersey at the height of 125 feet over the Bay, a violent thunderstorm arose, frightening everybody in the vicinity, but she went through her performance with the lightning flashing all around her and never for a moment lost her presence of mind. Last year, at Oporto Portugal, she was advertised to carry a boy across on her back, a distance of 200 feet, about 80 feet from the ground. The boy disappointed her, and she carried her brother across, a gentleman weighing 170 pounds.

Speaking of Niagara, the Spelterini does not regard the feet as anything at all extraordinary, as walking across the river does not display the artistes nerve half as much as the different performances that she proposes to give on the rope. If sufficient strain can be got on the rope so as to stretch it tolerably straight. She will be able to give her entire repertoire and, in any case, if the rope can be properly guyed she will perform some 10 or 12 different acts.

The rope is now being manufactured in the city, and when completed, will measure 1000 feet and weigh 1,700 pounds. It will require 1,000 pounds of guys to keep it fairly steady. The rope will be stretched across the Niagara Rapids about 200 feet below the Rail Road Suspension Bridge and 800 feet on each bank of the river will be enclosed and arranged with scats for the accommodation of spectators. The Erie, New York Central, Great Western, Canada Southern, and other roads will run trains at excursion rates to accommodate the visitors anxious to pay a visit to the falls and see a woman crossed the Rapids on a rope, a feat never before attempted.

The first performance will be given on July 1, Dominion day at 4 PM and the second at the same hour on July 4, in honour to the Centennial celebration.

Signorina Spelterini and her brother left last night for the International Hotel, where she will remain during her stay at Niagara Falls.




Niagara Falls Noisier Here by far than New York City

April 7th 1926

Interesting tests made here measuring roar at various points - deafening roar heard at foot of American Falls.

The thundering roar at Niagara Falls was scientifically measured yesterday. The tests show that the two noisiest points about the cataract was at the foot of the American Fall at Prospect Point and directly in front of the Cave of the Winds below Goat Island.

The noise measurement of both these points was 70 units generally classified as a deafening noise. Both of these points registered higher units of noise measurements than New York's noisiest corner: 6th Avenue and 34th Street, where the measurement is 55 minutes units.The quietest point about the falls is at Terrapin Point, the extreme southwest corner of Goat Island where the registration showed 15 units.The next quietest points are at the Whirlpool Rapids and the Canadian rapids above the Horseshoe Falls.
At the third sister island the registrtion measurement is 50 units which compares in intensity noise measurements at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street in New York CityAt the top of the American Fall near Luna Island at the bridge over the upper rapids leading to Goat Island and at the head of the Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side the noise measurement is 55 units.The second loudest point found by the test was at the top of the falls near the cave the winds at Goat Island where measurement is 60 units. The top of the Falls at Prospect Point shows 52 units.

The tests were made by the audio meter, a specially constructed device by the Bell Telephone laboratories.

A. L. Greene, a member of the scientific equipment division of the Gray Bar Electric Company of New York was in charge of the tests.




Gas Lights

June 3, 1853

Niagara Falls village is to be lighted with gas the works to be completed in June of 1854. 




The Sound of Niagara


In 1897, an attempt was made to record the roar of Niagara Falls. A huge telephone transmitter was placed at the entrance to the Cave of the Winds and each evening between 7 and 10 o'clock, for a period of a month, the wire connecting this receiver with the local telephone office was put in direct connection over the wires of the Telephone Company with New York City.  Hundreds of people, approximately 450 miles away, in New York listened to the roar of the Falls. At the same time, power was transmitted nightly from the Niagara Power House over an ordinary telegraph wire to the same room in New York City. This power illuminated electric lamps and furnished current (less than half a horse power) to operate a miniature model of the Niagara power house and of the adjacent territory.


Fishing up a Sunken Engine

A locomotive that plunged into Niagara River and its recovery.

Niagara Falls New York,

September 16, 1899

A rather remarkable railroad accident occurred on the lands of the Niagara Falls Power Company on August 31, when a locomotive under full steam and seven cars plunged into the river from a dock. The terminal railroad on the power companies lands is known as the Niagara Junction Railway, and it was on this line that the accident occurred. At the time to locomotive and train were running fast in order to surmount a heavy grade. An open switch allowed the train to run on the dock siding, and as a locomotive was not equipped with air brakes and the brakes the train did have would not hold the locomotive. It slid along the tracks and plunged into the Niagara River, followed by the cars. The locomotive disappeared from sight beneath the water. Portions of the train remained in sight.

To recover the locomotive. It was necessary to secure the aid of one of the New York Central's wrecking crews and their powerful steam derrick. Chains were placed about the sunken engine and the derrick force applied. Slowly the monster machine on the dock raised the wrecked locomotive, and then swung around on the track. The recovery of locomotive was a spectacle of great interest , which was well portrayed the efficiency of the machinery of today.




Swim Niagara's Rapids

Glover Beats Graham in Race from New York to Canada Shore.


July 17th 1905 -

Carlisle D. Graham and William J. Glover, both of whom have gone over the Falls in a barrel and have braved the rapids in other ways, swam a match race through the Lower Rapids today, Glover winning by four minutes from the older man. It took him 39 minutes to make the passage. but he emerged fairly fresh from his contest. Graham, who is fifty- eight years old, was pretty well exhausted by his efforts.

The start was made from the New York side. Glover took the lead at once, but was caught in an eddy and Graham passed him. Later a similar mishap befell Graham, allowing the younger man to once more show in front. They continued on nearly even terms until opposite Lewiston dock, where the greater strength of Glover gave him the victory.

Both men wore life-preservers and life-rings to support the chin and head.




The Year in Electricity

W.H Browne Jr., Technical Editor of “The Electrical Review” Reviews Progress in 1907


January 5th 1908 -

The electrical industries for the year just closed have made an exceedingly good record. The year opened with a continuation of the remarkable activity of the preceding year, and this condition generally prevailed until the Fall, when the financial flurry brought a check. As a whole, however, there is no doubt that the work of the year exceeded that of any previous year. The outlook for the future is felt to be good, as although  there has been some curtailment in the rate of production, the conditions fundamentally are sound. It is probable that the policy of working to fill orders, rather than to stock up the storerooms, will be more widely adopted in the immediate future.

In wireless telegraphy undoubtedly the most important event was the opening of a transatlantic service by the Marconi Company on October 17th. The two stations are at Clifden, Ireland, and Glace Bay, Nova Scotia. During the first day many messages were sent, largely of a congratulatory character. Due to the enterprise of The Times, which publishes wireless dispatches daily, The Times frequently having more than a page of news transmitted in this way, such wireless messages have become very commonplace. Other wireless telegraphic systems have made steady progress during the year, new stations having been opened and a large amount of experimental work done. Early in the year the proposal by Poulson to employ the electric arc for transmitting messages put an additional device in the hands of these workers.

There has been an increased interest in wireless telephony, due to announcements of several new systems. Poulsen, mentioned above in connection with wireless telegraphy, has, it is reported, been very successful, using for this purpose the electric arc. In this country Dr. Lee de Forest has done a good deal of experimental work, and his system is now being tried on vessels of the navy. The maximum distance covered during the year was about 250 miles, but Professor Poulsen announces that it is his intention to span the Atlantic Ocean within a few months.

The development of the electric rail- way has been one of the most remarkable features of the entire electrical industry. During the past year the most notable work has been the putting into service of the electric zones of the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad and the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad at New York City. The former of these was started last year, but only during the present year were the steam locomotives eliminated from this district. A significant fact in connection with these two systems was brought out at a discussion which took place before the American Institute of Electrical Engineers upon the relative merits of steam and electric locomotives. W. J. Wilgus, chief engineer of the New York Central. said that the saving in operating expense had been found to be much greater than had been expected; while W. S. Murray, electrical engineer for the New Haven road, said that his company estimated that the electrical system would save over 10 per cent of the operating cost within the zone. As these two systems were installed, not to reduce the operating cost, but to meet the conditions peculiar to situation, the bearing of these statements on the problem of the wider application of the electrical system can be seen.

Other important developments have been the completion of two of the East River tunnels at New York, one of these being the extension of the New York Subway system under the East River to the Borough Hall, Brooklyn. Trial runs have been made, and this system will shortly be put into service. The Belmont tunnel, at Forty-second Street, New York City, has also been completed, and trial trains are in operation. The McAdoo tunnels under the North River are being finished, on are also the Pennsylvania tunnels, which will give this great system a terminal in the heart of New York, City. These tunnels are, of course, to be operated electrically.

The Erie Railroad has put into operation a third-rail system at Rochester, N. Y., and the West Shore Railroad has electrified its line from Syracuse to Utica. These systems, with the exception of the New York, New Haven & Hartford, are direct-current, third-rail systems. The New Haven system, on the other hand. is a single-phase, alternating-current system, and is the most Important installation of this type of equipment In the world. Another important alternating- current road is the Spokane & Inland

Railway of the Inland Empire system, Washington. where the single-phase motor is giving excellent service. As yet the polyphase system has not' been installed in this country, though it has been decided upon for the Arlberg tunnel In the Tyrolean Alps—a very difficult and important piece of work.

There has been a very substantial growth of the street railway systems of the country, and also of the interurban lines. A feature of this development is the joining of mans, lines into a network covering a large district. There are many noteworthy examples of this throughout, the Middle West—in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois—some companies having over 400 miles of track under their control. The work is often of the highest grade, and the cars make excellent speeds. In some cases sleepers, refrigerating cars, and cars for special services are run by these companies, thus bringing them into direct competition with the steam roads, both for handling passengers and freight. At Niagara Falls work is going on energetically in building the power plants at that point The transmission lines have been extended so that Rochester is now served, and construction is being pushed rapidly toward Syracuse. In other sections of the country good progress has been made in developing waterfalls, notably in the South, where several important companies have extended systems. As the demand for electric power increases and the price of coal goes up, these hydroelectric systems take on a new importance. Their value to the country cannot easily be -overestimated. The electrical manufacturing companies may be said to have had a very successful year, on the whole, although the financial stringency in the Fall necessarily has made their showing less than it would have been.

In closing, It is not out of place to call attention to one or two scientific developments during the year which are of much Interest to electrical students. The possibility of the transmutation of elements was suggested by the study of radium, and In July Sir William

Ramsay announced that in submitting copper to the influence of radium emanation, he had obtained lithium. If further research confirms this statement the discovery will be one of the most important that has ever been made in science. These developments are being watched attentively by students of electrical phenomena since it is through some electrical effect that they are discovered. There has been no noteworthy development of the electrical theory of matter, although much work has been done principally by those who belong to the Thomson school.

Just before the close of the year the scientific world learned with grief of the illness, and later the death, of its great leader. Lord Kelvin. The loss to all branches of science has been very great, and the entire electrical world will mourn him deeply. He it was who helped so mightily to establish electrical science on a firm foundation, and he it was who so long was affectionately known as the " father of electrical engineering," and who did not disdain to apply his great knowledge to useful purposes, and thus add to the comfort and happiness of the world. He was laid to rest, with proper ceremonies, in Westminster Abbey, but he needs no monument to perpetuate his name, which is indelibly stamped on the scientific development of the nineteenth century.




Attempt To Blowup a Tunnel

Timely Discovery Saves Lives of Men Working in Canadian Niagara Power Company's Plant

April 26th 1902

Providentially, the lives of about thirty men and the tunnel work of the Canadian Niagara Power Company were saved from destruction.

Last evening as the night shift went on the discovery was made of an attempt to wreck the tunnel and kill the men working 160 feet below the surface of the earth. The shaft leading down to the tunnel is 160 feet deep. From the bottom of the shaft the tunnel runs north and south, and men working at both headings. The blasts are discharged by means of batteries operated at the foot of the shaft, the wires extending to the headings.

When the night shift went to work one of the " nipper" boys discovered that at a point 100 feet from the bottom of the shaft, the wires from one of the batteries had been cut and a cartridge cap connected and placed in a stick of dynamite. The stick of dynamite had been placed between two boxes of dynamite containing seventy- five pounds of the material. The day shift arranges the blasts and the night shift sets them off.

The object or the motive is not known. Detectives are at work.




Will Build Giant Power - Wheel Pit


June 20th 1903 -

The Toronto and Niagara Power Company today called for bids on what will be the largest power wheel pit in the world. It is to be 480 feet long, 180 feet deep, and 27 feet wide, cut through the solid rock. The work will cost $1,250,00, and will develop 225,000 horse power.




Through Whirlpool Rapids

Nissen Makes the Trip in Full-Decked Whaleback Steamer.

October 12th 1901 -

A large crowd of spectators witnessed Peter Nissen's daring trip through the whirlpool rapids this afternoon. He made the trip in the smallest full-decked whaleback steamer in the world, passing under the bridges at 3:40 o'clock.

The first wave knocked off his smoke­stack and sent it to the bottom. For all that it was heavily weighted, the boat rolled frightfully in the waves, and Nissen was well shaken up. It took just three minutes to go through the breakers to the whirlpool, and when his boat was in quiet water Nissen raised the hatch, and waving to the people and retired back inside.

In two minutes he was one on deck, riding this way quite a distance about the pool. At 4:05 o'clock men on the Canadian side secured hold of the boat as it swept close in shore and at 4:08 o'clock Nissen leaped to the rocks. Tomorrow he will get up steam and take a ride about the whirlpool.




Seven Skeltons In a Grave

December 5th 1900 -

While digging a grave in the Drummondville (Ontario) village cemetery, which is situated in Lundy's Lane, William Dalton unearthed seven skeletons of soldiers who fell in the battle fought there in 1813. From insignia and buttons found, it is supposed they were members of the Ninetieth Regiment, United States Army.




Boy Gamely Fights Niagara Whirlpool

Caught in Current as He Took a Swim, He Tried to Get Back to Shore But Stream Swept Him On

Then He Deliberately Turned Down  Stream and Tried to Swim Through Whirlpool—Sank Finally.

August 16th 1909 -

August Sporer, an eighteen year old boy of this city, went to his death this after­noon in the whirlpool rapids after a gal­lant battle with the large waves between the lower bridges and the whirlpool

With three companions Sporer went for a swim in the river at the old Maid of the. Mist landing. He struck out at once for the middle of the stream and then turned toward the bridges. His companions called to him to turn back, for the current is very swift at that point, but he kept on downstream and was caught in the great sweep, the first break from the smoother waters to the rapids.

The boy battled for a time against the current, but to no avail. Then, evidently realizing that he was beyond human help and was to be carried through the rapids. which took the life of the Englishman Captain Webb, and which have resisted every unaided human effort at passage, he deliberately turned downstream and began a fight to live through the rapids.

Not in all the history of the river has such a stanch attempt been witnessed, observers say. Although but a frail boy, Sporer went into the rapids, swimming strongly, and held his own until he struck the giant wave which curls up opposite the old battery elevator. Then he went under, and for a second was lost to sight of the score of people who stood on the lower arch bridge.

Again and again he disappeared, only to reappear, each time fighting desperately against the terrible current, but when within 300 yards of the whirlpool his strength gave put, he sank, and was lost to view. Even then he had swum perhaps 100 yards further than Captain Webb did.

The body can now be seen in the whirlpool, where rivermen are waiting for it to be brought far enough in shore to be caught.




Perilous Voyage In a Barrel

Martha E. Wagenfluher Whirled Through the Rapids of Niagara.


September 6th 1901-

It was nearly 6 o'clock this afternoon when the barrel containing, Martha E. Wagenfluhrer was set adrift on the lower river, to be carried by the current into the rapids and vortex of the Whirlpool. The trip through the rapids was quickly made, but the rescue from the Whirlpool was delayed.

Night fell before the barrel was recovered, and the woman's friends had availed themselves to the help of a powerful searchlight to illuminate the rushing, tossing waters of the pool.

She started at 5:56 o'clock, and it was 7 o'clock when the barrel was landed. The head had to be broken in order to get the woman out. She was in a semiconscious condition. Before entering the barrel she had indulged freely in liquor, but when she. got out, she called for water.



Niagara Station Blown Up

Railroad Building at the Whirlpool Believed to Have Been Set Afire - Traffic Delayed.

July 2nd 1903 -

Miss Lydia Upper, in charge of the Whirlpool Station of the Gorge Railroad under the lower steel arch bridge, this evening found that the station was afire. She seized the books and money in the office and ran. She was not 75 feet away when an explosion blew the house to pieces. The Fire Department had great trouble running hose to the scene, and the station was burned to the ground. It is supposed that dynamite stored in the building exploded. The bed of the railroad was torn up for a considerable distance and the cable feeders. Wrecking gangs worked hard, and by midnight one track could be used. Cars filled with tourists and electrical engineers, delegates to the convention here, which had been stalled, were then brought to this city. Arson is suspected.



Niagara Falls Illuminated

September 8th 1907 -

It is gratifying to learn that the splendid nightly illumination of Niagara Falls will not be used for advertising purposes. Good pecuniary results would ensue if the city of Niagara Fails would permit patent medicine and chewing gum men to throw reproductions of their trade marks on the illuminated walls of falling water. But the engineer who controls the huge electric lanterns, of more than 1,000,000,000 candle power, promises that there will be no degradation of that sort.

The illumination, according to all accounts, is wonderfully beautiful, and if it cannot, as Mr. RYAN, the inventor, says, " beat the sun," it is clearly a great improvement, spectacularly, on the long-famous view of the Falls by moonlight. The glare of fifty powerful searchlights thrown upon the cataract annihilates all the black shadows which used to lend weird effects to the moonlight. Brilliant and varied color effects are produced with intermediary screens, and hundreds of artificial rainbows are formed with the clouds of mist. It is all mechanical, of course, and clearly a money-making device, for the fame of the illumination will attract many new visitors to Niagara, but only the sentimentalists will object. The Falls will not be injured, the majestic torrents of water will not be abated in the least, and as for painting the lily and gilding refined gold, the excess in this case will clearly not be ridiculous or wasteful.






















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