The Great Gorge Route
The Most Scenic Ride
Rock falls, washouts, ice avalanches, and other mishaps made the gorge quite dangerous at times, resulting in some injuries and deaths. Flooding took its toll as ice floes rose out of the river and damaged the tracks. In 1932, when the Canadians did not renew their lease, the popular circular route ended. Soon after 5,000 tons of rock fell onto a large section of track in 1935, the trolley line stopped running. Today, hiking trails exist where the Great Gorge Route once travelled.
Trolley passing by 'Giant Rock,' a popular stop for photographers.
Open trolley cars ran in the warmer months; closed cars were used during cold weather.
President William McKinley (center) on a special trolley to Niagara Falls (September 6, 1901). After his
Open car #677 along Whirlpool Rapids, June 1927.
Special cars, built with wicker chairs and other conveniences, catered to prominent visitors.
This electric observation car, equipped with searchlights to illuminate the Whirlpool Rapids, was a popular tourist attraction.
On September 6, 1935, 5,000 tons of rock fell onto the trolley tracks. The line was abandoned soon after.
In 1936, after the abandonment of the Great Gorge Route, all but a few trolleys were intentionally burned.
1886 - Niagara Falls and Whirlpool Railway company is formed.
1891 - Captain J.M. Brinker of Buffalo purchases and reorganizes the company as the Niagara Falls and Lewiston Railroad Company.
1895 - Work on the roadbed begins in April at Lewiston and is completed to Whirlpool Rapids. First trial run on tracks occurs in July; line opens to public in August.
1896 - Route completed from Lewiston to Niagara Falls, NY.
1899 - Lewiston-Queenston Suspension Bridge opens; trolley line connects to Canadian railway along gorge rim.
1901 - President William McKinley rides trolley through gorge on September 6. Late that day, he is shot at the Pan-American exposition in Buffalo.
1905 - Evening searchlight excursions
1915 - Trolley descending the escarpment at Queenston, Ontario, derails, resulting in many deaths and injuries.
1917 - Section of track near Whirlpool Bridge is washed out, causing the trolley to leave the tracks and flip over into the river, resulting in many deaths and injuries.
1924 - Niagara Falls Power Company purchases trolley line.
1932 - Canadian line fails to renew its lease, ending the circular 'Belt Line' route.
1935 - The Great Gorge Route goes out of service soon after 5,000 tons of rock fall onto a large section of track.
1936 - Trolley cars are burned and steel parts salvaged. Rails are removed from gorge.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Disasters • Entertainment • Environment • Railroads & Streetcars. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #25 William McKinley series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1895.
Location. Marker is missing. It was located near 43° 5.625′ N, 79° 3.718′ W. Marker was in Niagara Falls, New York, in Niagara County. Marker could be reached from Discovery Way, 0.2 miles north of Main Street (New York State Route 104). Marker is on the grounds of the Niagara Gorge Discovery Center, part of Niagara Touch for map. Marker was in this post office area: Niagara Falls NY 14301, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this location. The Niagara Falls Power Company (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Birth of Hydro Electric Power (about 400 feet away); Welcome to Schoellkopf Power Station No.3 (about 500 feet away); Niagara Gorge Industrial Heritage (approx. 0.2 miles away); Niagara Gorge Important Bird Area (approx. 0.2 miles away); Niagara Falls Medal of Honor Memorial (approx. ¼ mile away); In Honor of the Soldiers, Sailors & Marines (approx. ¼ mile away); The Most Combat Decorated World War II Soldier (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Niagara Falls.
More about this marker. The Niagara Gorge Discovery Center was formerly known as the Schoellkopf Geological Museum. Niagara Falls State Park was formerly known as Niagara Reservation State Park.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker.
Credits. This page was last revised on January 28, 2021. It was originally submitted on July 13, 2014, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York. This page has been viewed 637 times since then and 97 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on July 13, 2014, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York. 2. submitted on November 20, 2020, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York. 3, 4, 5. submitted on July 13, 2014, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.