Terrapin Point is located at the western end of Goat Island nearest the brink of the Horseshoe Falls.
In 1817, at Terrapin Point (Porter's Bluff), owners Peter & Augustus Porter built a 300 foot long plank walkway which extended from the mainland of Goat Island to the crest line of the Horseshoe Falls. Built of heavy timbers, the walkway extended approximately ten feet beyond the crestline of the Falls. This overhang was frequently used by Francis Abbott, the Hermit of Niagara Falls who would entertain tourists by performing acrobatic acts at the very end of this walkway. The walkway was of slight construction and had no safety railings.
Porter's Bluff is believed to have been the point from which Indian warriors in ages gone past, threw their sacrifices of war weapons and articles of personal adornment into the waters above the brink of the falls for the Great Spirit of Niagara. A few steps below this bluff are the Terrapin Rocks.
In 1829, on several large exposed rocks near the end of this walkway, Terrapin Tower was built by General Parkhurst Whitney, a prominent American Innkeeper. It was the first of the towers at Niagara Falls to be built.
In 1872, Terrapin Tower was purposely blown apart with the use of gun power. The tower was not destroyed because it had become unsafe, but rather not to compete with a planned new tower at the recently purchased Prospect Park by a new company. Those plans for a new tower subsequently fell through and the replacement tower was never built. Citizens tried unsuccessfully to get the Tower at Terrapin Point replaced.
The timber walkway remained in existence for many years following the destruction of Terrapin Tower. It was still in existence as late as 1905.
In the early 1900's, the wooden walkway was replaced with a similar steel walkway to the Terrapin Rocks and the edge of the Horseshoe Falls.
In September of 1954, the area of Terrapin Rocks was de-watered by use of coffer dams. The metal catwalk was removed and the area backfilled to produce a large viewing area which is today known as Terrapin Point. This back-filling was undertaken to reduce an irregular water flow over the brink of the Horseshoe which had been caused by several large rock falls near the apex of the crest of the falls and to compensate for less water flowing over the precipice because of water diversion upstream for hydro generation.
Terrapin Point in 1954
Date last updated:
February 13, 2012
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