Suspension Bridge Tollhouse
July 21, 1899 to November 2, 1962
Historic Lewiston Bridge Linked U.S. with Canada
After the first Lewiston suspension bridge was destroyed by a wind storm in 1864, people and businesses immediately began discussions about replacing it. Because railroads and trolleys were popular, and the scenic Great Gorge Railway was looking to complete its beltway loop by crossing the river with electric trolleys in both Niagara Falls and Lewiston, work began on the new bridge in the late 1890s. Between 1864 and 1899, Lewiston and Queenston were serviced by a ferry boat.
Opening Day Festivities
On July 21, 1899, the bridge was “bedecked with bunting and flags from both countries, the Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack.” Dignitaries met in the middle of the bridge for a ceremony and then rode trolley cars to Queenston Heights Park where an elaborate luncheon was served. This photo captures people walking across the span after ceremonies were over. There were few, if any, automobiles
When the new steel arched bridge was built, the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission attempted to sell the suspension bridge, but there were no takers. The bridge was dismantled and sold for scrap. Its last day of service was November 2, 1962.
McKinley Visits Bridge the Morning of His Assassination
On September 6, 1901, President William McKinley and his wife were scheduled for a “restful day” while attending the Pan-American Exposition, a World’s Fair, that was being held in Buffalo.
At 9am they departed on a train to tour Niagara Falls and Lewiston. They boarded the Great Gorge Railway in Niagara Falls and “savored the magnificence of the Niagara area” during their ride along the gorge wall, just feet from the swirling whirlpools and rapids of the Niagara River. When they arrived in Lewiston, they took the train ride halfway across the Lewiston-Queenston Suspension bridge and then began their trip back to Niagara Falls for lunch at the International Hotel, “with time built into the schedule for the president to enjoy a cigar and fine view.”
They returned later that afternoon to Buffalo where the president greeted the public in the Temple of Music. Anarchist Leon Czolgosz got in the receiving line and shot the President with a hidden pistol at close range.
President McKinley died
Saving a piece of History: How the Tollhouse was Salvaged and Restored
A long-time toll collector from the Town of Cambria retired in 1962 when the bridge was decommissioned. He was given the tollhouse as a retirement gift. He put it in his backyard, put shelves in it, and used it as a garden shed. The property was sold several times before the Bruno DiBella Family purchased the property in 2010. A neighbor told the DiBellas about the tollhouse and its historical significance. In the summer of of 2011, the DiBellas contacted the Historical Association of Lewiston, asking if the organization would be interested in obtaining it as a donation. The Association said yes, and the wheels were set in motion to restore it.
The Niagara Falls Bridge Commission, Lewiston Garden Club, Lewiston/Niagara-on-the-Lake Rotory Club, and the Kiwanis Club of Lewiston, helped with expenses, while volunteer Robert H. Welsh performed the restoration. Emery Simon and Greg Marin also donated moving and flooring services.
The tollhouse is on permanent loan to the Village of Lewiston from the Historical Association of Lewiston. It was dedicated on this Academy Park site on June 1, 2012. (Accession #2011.13)
Erected by Historical Association of Lewiston, Inc.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Lewiston Academy (a few steps from this marker); Dedicated to the Men and Women (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Tuscaroras Defend Lewiston Against 1813 British Attack (about 600 feet away); Tuscarora Heroes Monument (about 600 feet away); Site of Hustler's Tavern (approx. 0.2 miles away); Opera Hall (approx. ¼ mile away); Hennepin Hall (approx. 0.3 miles away); Kelsey Tavern (approx. 0.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Lewiston.
Also see . . .
1. Historic Lewiston, New York. (Submitted on July 28, 2014, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York.)
2. Niagara Falls Bridge Commission. (Submitted on July 28, 2014, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York.)
3. Niagara Frontier Chapter NRHS - Niagara Gorge Belt Line. (Submitted on July 28, 2014, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York.)
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Credits. This page was last revised on December 17, 2017. This page originally submitted on July 28, 2014, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York. This page has been viewed 312 times since then and 15 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. submitted on July 28, 2014, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York. 10. submitted on February 1, 2015. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.