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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Niagara Falls in Niagara County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

The First People to See the Falls

 
 
The First People to See the Falls Marker image. Click for full size.
By Anton Schwarzmueller, July 31, 2014
1. The First People to See the Falls Marker
Inscription. The first people to see Niagara Falls were probably nomadic hunters and gatherers who left behind evidence of their short-term camps and work areas in the form of tools and weapons. The Neutrals, known for their peaceful nature, followed, building villages on both sides of the Niagara River.

In the mid-17th century, the Senecas conquered the Neutrals. The Senecas were members of the Haudenosaunee (The People of the Longhouse), or Iroquois Confederation of Nations. By the beginning of the 18th century, the Iroquois were the most powerful Native Americans in the Great Lakes region.

The first Europeans to visit the area were French traders and missionaries in the 16th and 17th centuries. In 1678, Father Louis Hennepin, a Recollet monk of the Franciscan order, visited the falls. When Hennepin returned to France, he described his experience and commissioned a painting of the falls and their surroundings.

The Iroquois Tree of Peace by Dren Lyons. Courtesy Onondaga Savings Bank.

[map] The Iroquois Confederation, ca. 1600.
Iroquois pictographs: Corn, Deer, Sing, Heron, Sadness, Wiseman, Bear, Bark sled, Happiness. Father Hennepin at Niagara Falls, a mural by Thomas Hart Benton, painted in 1861 is shown above. Courtesy of the New York Power Authority.

Father Louis Hennepin's expression
The First People to See the Falls Marker image. Click for full size.
By Anton Schwarzmueller, July 31, 2014
2. The First People to See the Falls Marker
Southward approach
of wonder at seeing the falls on December 6, 1678. "Betwixt the Ontario and Erie, there is a vast prodigious Cadence of Water which falls down after a surprising and astonishing manner, insomuch that the Universe does not afford its Parallel. "Tis true, Italy and Suedeland boast of some such Things; but we may well say they are but sorry Patterns, when compared to this of which we now speak. At the foot of the horrible Precipice we meet with the River Niagara, which is not above half a quarter of a League broad, but is wonderfully deep in some places. It is so rapid above this Descent, that it violently hurries down the Wild Beasts while endeavoring to pass it, to feed on the other side; they not being able to withstand the force of its Current, which inevitably casts them down headlong above Six hundred foot."

Niagara Falls, from Hennepin's New Discovery, first English edition, 1699.
 
Location. 43° 5.239′ N, 79° 4.075′ W. Marker is in Niagara Falls, New York, in Niagara County. Marker can be reached from Robert Moses Parkway. Touch for map. Marker is in Niagara Falls State Park along the rim of the gorge between the Rainbow Bridge and the observation tower, a few steps from the Hennepin View marker. Marker is in this post office area: Niagara Falls NY 14303, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers
The First People to See the Falls Marker image. Click for full size.
By Anton Schwarzmueller, July 31, 2014
3. The First People to See the Falls Marker
Northward approach from the Hennepin View Marker on the large stone, but both markers face southbound pedestrians.
are within walking distance of this marker. Hennepin View (a few steps from this marker); Height, Sight, and Flight / The Niagara River Corridor Important Bird Area (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Prospect Point Viewing Area (about 400 feet away); The Falls View Bridges (about 600 feet away); Town of Niagara Civil War Memorial (approx. 0.2 miles away); Niagara's Industrial Beginnings and the Establishment of the State Reservation (approx. 0.2 miles away); Bridges of Niagara (approx. 0.2 miles away); Niagara County Medal of Honor Monument (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Niagara Falls.
 
Also see . . .  Niagara Falls State Park - NY State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation. (Submitted on September 10, 2014, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York.)
 
Categories. EnvironmentExplorationNative Americans
 
The First People to See the Falls Marker image. Click for full size.
By Anton Schwarzmueller, July 31, 2014
4. The First People to See the Falls Marker
Hennepin View marker on stone beyond and above the marker; walking towards the observation tower and deck that looks like an unfinished bridge.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on September 10, 2014, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York. This page has been viewed 292 times since then and 24 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on September 10, 2014, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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