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MARKER DATABASE
“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 Power of the American Rapids

 
 
The Power of the American Rapids Marker image. Click for full size.
By Anton Schwarzmueller, August 26, 2015
1. The Power of the American Rapids Marker
Inscription. The American Rapids begin at the upstream end of Goat Island. From there, they drop about 50 feet (15 meters) in elevation to the brink of the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. Although no more than a few feet deep, these swift rapids are extremely dangerous. The hard dolostone riverbed has been worn smooth by water, but is also quite fractured and covered with numerous potholes.

In the 1750's, Daniel Chabert de Joncaire built a sawmill and dug a small canal along these rapids. The canal created an island that was later called Willow Island. During the French and Indian War, Joncaire burned the sawmill to keep it out of British hands. In 1805, Augustus and Peter Porter and other local businessmen purchased land near the falls. The sawmill was rebuilt, and along with other industries, helped establish the village that would eventually become Niagara Falls. During the construction of the Robert Moses Parkway in the 1960s, Joncaire's canal was filled in.

In the spring of 1969, a cofferdam made of boulders, gravel, and soil was built from the mainland to the upper end of Goat Island to prevent water from flowing over the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. Between June and November, scientists and engineers conducted an in-depth geologic study of the rock. They determined that the talus, or rocks below the falls, should
Approaching from Upstream image. Click for full size.
By Anton Schwarzmueller, August 26, 2015
2. Approaching from Upstream
Goat Island pedestrian bridge in background, leading to Green Island first.
not be removed and that Niagara Falls be allowed to retreat upstream through its natural process.

Canal channel, rustic bridge, and part of Willow Island to the right. Photograph courtesy of the Niagara Falls Public Library.
Construction of cofferdam out from the mainland.
Cofferdam being removed from the American Rapids channel.
Rapids above the American Falls, ca. 1868 postcard.
The lower section of the American Rapids has been illuminated at night since 1989, and the upper section since 1998.
 
Location. 43° 5.02′ N, 79° 3.844′ W. Marker is in Niagara Falls, New York, in Niagara County. Marker can be reached from Niagara Scenic Parkway (New York State Route 957A) 0.1 miles west of 1st Street. Touch for map. Marker is in Niagara Falls State Park. It is on the mainland walking path beside the upper Niagara River, about midway between the two bridges to Goat Island. The Niagara Scenic Parkway is segmented here by the state park, and current construction has rolled it back farther; it does not quite reach the marker. Prior to 2016 the parkway went by its original name, the Robert Moses Parkway. Marker is in this post office area: Niagara Falls NY 14303, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Site of First House (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line);
Marker & American Rapids image. Click for full size.
By Anton Schwarzmueller, August 26, 2015
3. Marker & American Rapids
Niagara County Medal of Honor Monument (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); First Presbyterian Church (approx. mile away); Height, Sight, and Flight / The Niagara River Corridor Important Bird Area (approx. mile away); Prospect Point Viewing Area (approx. 0.3 miles away); Goat Island Flora (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Niagara Falls.
 
Categories. EnvironmentIndustry & CommerceWar, French and IndianWaterways & Vessels
 
American Rapids & Marker image. Click for full size.
By Anton Schwarzmueller, August 26, 2015
4. American Rapids & Marker
American Rapids & Marker & Violator image. Click for full size.
By Anton Schwarzmueller, August 26, 2015
5. American Rapids & Marker & Violator
In one minute, a sharp-eyed passing park employee will stop his car and, on foot, approach the young blonde lady perched and meditating on the railing standard. She will be advised of her infraction: No climbing or breaching the railing.
American Rapids image. Click for full size.
By Anton Schwarzmueller, August 26, 2015
6. American Rapids
View towards upriver from the pedestrian bridge. The marker is in the area behind the railings at left. This view is actually obscured by the metal overdeck and reinforcement structure on the bridge; I aimed the lens between the various obstructions.
American Rapids image. Click for full size.
By Anton Schwarzmueller, August 26, 2015
7. American Rapids
View from the vehicular bridge (1st Street) to Goat Island. Most pedestrians use the stone bridge in the background, but there are safe walkways here on this, the vehicular bridge. This is looking downstream. The buildings in the center background are in Canada. The marker is in the clearing to the right; the white building near the marker is the Comfort Inn. The glass building near the marker is the former Occidental Chemical office building, now housing food and souvenier vendors at ground level.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on September 12, 2016. This page originally submitted on August 30, 2015, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York. This page has been viewed 207 times since then and 33 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on August 30, 2015, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York.
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