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pillar of flame. I beheld, at the same time, both the
pillar of fire and the pillar of cloud. On another
occasion, I watched, from this spot, a thunder-storm.
Dark clouds formed a grand background to the foam-
ing torrent, displaying, in fine relief, its snowy white-
ness ; forked lightning was playing behind and above
the torrent, and the roar of the thunder and that of
the waterflood were heard, each perfectly distinct, as
two bass voices, or two instruments of different quality,
not blending, but, as it were, contending with each

8o Niagara.

Still more fascinating was the scene by night, when
the moon softened every feature, and the lunar bow
was spanning the torrent with its gentle radiance. In
one spot I observed the entire circle, as a lustrous
crown, hovering over the foam. Bewitched by the
beauty, I forgot all possibility of danger, till I became
startled at my own insensibility to the need of precau-
tion as I wandered about ; — it seemed too lovely to
be perilous.

Let us approach the Great Fall. A narrow foot-
bridge, stretching from rock to rock in a shallow part
of the stream, leads to within a few feet of the verge,
and enables us to reach the " Prospect Tower," an
ugly erection, somewhat like a lighthouse, built on
a rock at the edge of the Fall. The wind and driving
spray sometimes render caution necessary in reaching
it. In 1852 a gentleman, while crossing, fell into the
current, but lodged against two rocks on the verge,
whence with great difficulty he was rescued. No
wonder that for some hours afterwards he remained
speechless. Ascending the tower, which trembles
from its foundation, a sight presents itself which is in-
describable. You look down into the very basin
which receives the mighty flood. You see the great

The Falls. 81

river rolling down, a mile in width, with ever increas-
ing velocity.

* l See where it comes, like an eternity,
As if to sweep down all things in its track,
Charming the eye with dread — a matchless cataract."

You see the entire semi-circle of the Fall as it curls
over the rock. How mighty is the force of the cur-
rent in the centre ! What gigantic tides struggle
there for precedence ! And then all is lost in clouds
of foam, which sometimes envelop the tower and
effectually drench the spectator.

I restrain myself in attempting to describe the in-
describable, through wholesome fear both of the cen-
sure and the example of the author of the local
" Guide Book." He satirizes some "ambitious candi-
date for applause," who called Goat Island " the fore-
head of Niagara, and the cataracts on either side her
streaming hair, puffed up a la Jenny Lind, and tied
back with rainbows." Then, after condemning all
other descriptions of the Falls as being "oceans
of sublimity, falling into perilous depths of pathos,"
he gives us his own in these severely chaste and
simple terms. " We find Nature here expressing her-
self in bold and beautiful antitheses; the Titanic
strength and majesty of the cataract, and the soft


82 Niagara.

grovy tendrils that bathe their verdure in its spray :
the wild, distracted, maniac surge, and the delicate
rainbow shivering in its embrace ; the whirlwind roar
of falling floods, and the braided lullaby of lapsing
streams." I was favoured with another and more con-
densed eulogium. As I was one day musing on the
scene, a gentleman came up and sat beside me.
After a few seconds he exclaimed, " Well, I guess this
is about the handsomest thing in all God's civilized
universe," with special emphasis on the word " civi-

It is time that we cross into Canada. Near our
hotel is an inclined tramway, by which, at an angle of
45 degrees, and for ten cents, you may be taken up or
down in a car,drawn by an endless rope. By the side of
it is a staircase for those who prefer walking. On emerg-
ing at the bottom of the 300 steps, you are immediately
below the American Fall, of which you have a grand
view. Not till you are thus under the Fall can you
appreciate its vastness. There is a kind of harbour
here, amongst the rocks, where the ferry-boat waits for
passengers. From the summit it had seemed very
perilous — that little open boat, crowded with passengers,
pulled by one man, and crossing the Niagara within

The Falls. $3

the very spray of the Great Fall ! I remonstrated
against the large number allowed to enter the boat,
and got out to wait another turn when there might be
a lighter cargo ; but the boatman only laughed at me
for my caution. I was constantly impressed with the
recklessness of people's conduct. To load an open
boat to its utmost capacity, with a living cargo of
men, women, and children, some of whom might
suddenly start up in frolic or in fear, and thus to cross
a heaving, surging torrent, with varying eddies and
subject to unknown forces, under the direction of a
single boatman, whose strength or presence of mind
might fail, or whose oar might break, leaving the boat
to be hurried helplessly down the cataract, seemed
then, and seems still, fool-hardiness. I crossed with
a moderate complement of passengers, and found
it still more delightful than I expected, and far less
alarming. With the utmost ease, the head of the
boat was kept towards the current, which thus sent
us across with scarcely any exertion on the part of the
boatman. Only in one place, near the middle, was
there any occasion for effort, and there, two or three
vigorous strokes sent the boat across the current to
the other shore, where a contrary eddy enabled the

84 Niagara.

boatman gently to paddle up-stream, soon regaining
what lee-way had been lost, and landing us just oppo-
site our starting-point. The whole passage did not
occupy ten minutes. The view from the water is very
grand ; your tiny vessel gives additional effect to the
majestic Falls above you and the heaving flood
around. The water seems panting with the fatigue of
its leap, and resting awhile before it encounters fresh
labours in the Rapids below. I afterwards crossed and
recrossed many times, my delight being to sit at the
very head of the boat, losing sight of the other pas-
sengers and the boatman, and looking only at the
wild flood through which I was being mysteriously

When half-way across we uncovered, in honour of
Great Britain and the Queen, whose territory we had
now entered. On the other side carriages were wait-
ing to convey passengers up the steep road that leads
to the Clifton House Hotel. Here I spent several
very happy days. There is nothing left to be desired
in the way of comfort, while the view is altogether
unique ; for the hotel stands in such a position, and
at such a distance, as to command in a single view the
entire Fall. A balcony surrounds the house, so that

The Falls. 85

you can walk about in all weather by simply stepping
out of your window, and thus watch a scene which is
ever new. You hear the roar, but are not disturbed
by it. You see both divisions of the stream, Goat
Island, the two falls, and the reunion of the waters
below. The great mist-column is ever assuming fresh
forms, as the wind plays with it, or the rays of the sun
kindle upon it. From the Cataract Hotel you can
more conveniently visit the chief features of the
scene. But if unable to leave the house, the Clifton,
on the Canada side, is far the best, as you may see the
whole of the marvellous and ever-moving picture with-
out leaving your room.

The hotel is about half a mile from the Horse-shce
Fall. There is a good carriage-road along the edge
of the cliff to "Table-Rock." This was a projecting
shelf overhanging the torrent, but, being considered
dangerous, it was recently blown away by gunpowder.
Here we descended by a steeply-inclined path and
went behind the Great Fall. The visit was neither so
interesting nor so hazardous as that to the Cave of the
Winds. It has been already stated that the lower
strata are of a soft nature, and yield more to the action
of the rebounding spray than the harder lime-stone

86 Niagara.

above to the force of the torrent falling over it. Thus
there is a large cavity behind the descending water.
You walk along a narrow shelf of rock, a concave
precipice on your right, and a very steep bank of
broken rocks descending on your left towards the gulf
into which the mighty flood from overhead is plunging.
On the edge of the Fall above is a small hotel and
also a museum, from the roof of which there is a very
fine view. Projecting over the edge of the Fall is a
large piece of timber, on which some adventurous
visitors are photographed. It requires some nerve to
hold on and sit steady during the process. One even-
ing, having strolled here in the dark, without my hat,
after standing for some time, looking upon the de-
scending torrent, I turned into the " Curiosity Shop,"
which was still lighted up. The man in charge coolly
said, " I've been watching you ; I thought it was some
one going to throw himself over. I've seen two do it."
"Why should you think so ? " said I. "Because you're
there at such a time of night ! " I replied that it was
only eight o'clock, and that a man who 'had come
three thousand miles to see it might be excused for
looking at it at all hours. He told me that one of the
persons referred to was a commercial traveller, who,

The Falls. 87

by drinking and betting at the hotel, had involved
himself in difficulties, and whom he had seen walk
along the projecting timber, toss his hat over, and
then throw himself headlong after it.

Although I spent about ten days at Niagara I felt
the time hurry away with cruel rapidity, and I almost
grudged the necessary time for meals and sleep) — there
was always so much to see that was new — always so
much to revisit again and again. I will recall one
day. Soon after five I was up to watch the sun rise
on the Fall. Then I climbed a wooded clirT, to a
road which brought me, at a distance of two miles, to
the " Burning Springs." Then I re-ascended the
high ground, and strolled homewards, till I reached a
spot just above the Horse-shoe Fall, and attempted
the sketch which forms the frontispiece to this volume.
I had never seen Niagara drawn from that point. A
considerable elevation commands a fine view of the
river above the Fall, and you look down into the
gulf below. The angle of vision does not include any
other object. You see no bottom to the abyss, no
exit for the water, which fancy might suppose is
plunging through the very centre of the earth itself.
The only foreground is a crag which, with its rich ver-

88 Niagara.

dure, appears to be bending over the cataract. I think,
of all the aspects in which I beheld Niagara, this, on
the whole, was the most sublime. I now began to
think it must be breakfast-time ; looking at my watch,
I found it was noon ! I had been just six hours on
my morning stroll. The waiter was amused when I
asked for breakfast ; the time for that meal was long
past. Refreshed with food, I started forth again, in-
tending to be back by three o'clock, in time for dinner ;
but again, I was utterly beguiled, and when I returned
it was five o'clock, and dinner had all been cleared
away. Having rested and written a few letters, I went
out again, for an evening stroll, in the moonlight. I
went beyond the Fall, and stood in the forest, alone,
close to the cataract. I held my stick in the water,
and the vibration caused by the current thrilled through
me. The silence of the forest contrasted with the roar
of the cataract, the wild rush of the rapids glimmering
in the moon, the foliage dripping and sparkling with
the spray, and the utter solitude, combined to produce
an impression on the mind never to be effaced. It
was past midnight when I regained the hotel.

My farewell view of the Great Fall was symbolical.
A rainbow was spanning the entire river. One limb

The Falls. 89

seemed to rest on American, the other on British soil.
Immediately under it the divided stream was foaming
as in anger ; but the waters soon re-united and flowed
on together to the quiet lake. I took it as an em-
blem of international peace. For a season public
sentiment, in some quarters, seemed at variance with
American interest, and American feeling was naturally-
roused in return. But over the temporary misunder-
standing there still rested the bow of a true and
abiding friendship : while the two nations, separated
only in appearance, not in heart, were speedily to re-
unite, and in greater harmony, let us trust, than ever,
pursue together their great career of prosperity,
peace, and freedom, for the benefit of each other,
and of the whole world.



The Town— Cataract Hotel— Current Bath— Shops— The River
— Cutting its own Channel — Trip from Buffalo — Narrow
Escape — Burning- Springs — The Indian Girl — Incidents — Sus-
pension Bridge — Rapids — Whirlpool — Maid of the Mist —
Lewiston — Queenston — Fort Niagara — Lake Ontario — River
St. Lawrence — Thousand Islands — Shooting the Rapids to

*' \T IAGARA " is an Indian word, signifying
JL tI " thundering water." The town so-named is
some miles off, and mistakes often arise from letters
being directed there instead of " Niagara Falls," the
name of the town which, within a few years, has
clustered round the hotels.

The " Cataract Hotel," is on the very edge of the
Rapids. We could throw a stone into them from our
window. The roar of the waters lulled us to sleep.
Just below our room were the baths. What a
luxury is the " Strong Current Bath ! " A portion of
the stream outside is allowed to pass through a capa-
cious basin, where you may have an incomparable

Niagara — Environs and Outflow. 91

douche, holding on by strong ropes till you like to
allow the torrent to carry you down towards the gra-
ting whence you may return again to the charge. I
used to think nothing could surpass the Rhone baths
at Geneva, but am compelled to give the palm to the
Niagara " Strong Current Bath." The hotel is very
large, able to receive 500 guests.

There are a number of streets at right angles,
and I should think a resident population of about
2,000. The shops, or "stores," are chiefly for the
sale of mementoes, in the shape of photographs,
articles of Indian work ; of curious fans, or fire-screens
made of feathers, with a stuffed specimen of some
American bird in the centre ; of jewellery, with beads
and other articles, professedly cut from the spar of the
Niagara rock.

There is a large trade in this branch of commerce,
as almost every visitor likes to take away for his
friends some memorial of his visit. The trading cus-
toms resemble those of other places of resort. A
young lady in one of these stores, who was obliging
enough to accommodate me with some of her mer-
chandize, seriously asked me eight dollars for a fan
which I coveted. Seeing that I somewhat hesitated,

92 Niagara.

she reduced her price at once to six dollars, then to
five, and then, as introduction to a< further abatement,
called to her companion, saying, " Come and see what
is the lowest you will sell this fan for to this man."
A few purchases, some unnecessary baggage, and
a number of books, which had been kindly given me
during my route, filled a tolerably large packing-case.
This I resolved to transmit direct to New York, and
I stood at the door of the hotel to get some one to
take it to the railway station. There was no porter
disposed to carry it, but a man with a truck placed it
on his vehicle, and loitered about for further custom.
He refused to take it at once ; and as I wished to
book it myself, I was losing precious time, for every
five minutes is valuable at Niagara. At length, weary
with waiting, I seized my case, and, placing it on my
shoulder, marched off with it down the street in a
broiling sun, to the amusement of the on-lookers, but
much to my own peace of mind.

The surpassing majesty and beauty of the cataract
may easily cause many a traveller to neglect those
scenes of great interest with which the river abounds,
both above and below the chief point of attraction.
To some of these I will now refer.

Environs and Outflow. 93

The entire length of the river, from its exit from
Lake Erie to its entrance into Lake Ontario, is about
34 miles, 20 of which are above the Falls. The
country is here level and uninteresting. It is a table-
land, about 350 feet higher than Lake Ontario, about
7 miles from the shore of which it terminates in a
steep bank or range of hills, called "Queenston
Heights." Over this bank it is supposed that the
river originally poured, cutting a channel as it de-
scended. Gradually by the action of the water, this
channel became deeper and receded farther, so that
the river no longer came down over the range of hills,
but through a deep trench which it had cut for itself.
Thus the actual descent of the water has constantly
changed its place, as the rocks over which it fell have
been worn away.

The upper strata, about ninety feet thick, are lime-
stone ; below is soft shale, which being gradually un-
dermined, the rocks above give way. Thus the Falls
constantly alter their shape, and the resemblance to a
" horse-shoe " is less and less obvious. It is said that
Goat Island has lost several acres within the last
twenty years. Sir C. Lyell conjectures that, on an
average, the Falls recede about a foot every year, in

94 Niagara'.

which case, supposing the rate to have been uniform
(a very important element in the calculation), 35,000
years have been occupied in the recession of the Falls
from Queenston to their present position.

During the first 18 miles of its course, the river
descends only about 1 5 feet ; then, within less than a
mile, it descends 80 feet over a limestone bed. The
Fall itself is about 160 feet, between which and
Queenston, in a succession of rapids, the water de-
scends upwards of 100 feet more in 7 miles. Above
the Fall the river is in some places more than two
miles wide ; then it contracts to about a mile \ the
Fall itself is above half a mile wide j while below, the
river rushes along a channel from 200 to 400 yards
wide, between precipitous banks about 300 feet high.

Let us make an expedition down the stream from
Buffalo. This great and thriving city it situated on
the lower extremity of Lake Erie and on the southern
shore of the river as it issues forth, several miles
broad, on its adventurous and troubled journey. An
excellent clergyman of the city courteously invited me
to join him on a trip which seems very popular with
the residents, and which he evidently considered free
from all danger, as he took with him his entire family

Environs and Outflow. 95

— wife, children, baby and nurse, with others. The
vessel was a tiny steam-yacht, about as big as the long-
boat of a man-of-war, but scarcely so wide. It was
propelled by a screw. The engine was in front ; a
small deck-cabin was in the stern. The rudder was>
as usual in American waters, worked at the prow.
Our crew consisted of two men, the engineer and the
steersman. At first the river was so wide that we
could scarcely see the low wooded shore on the op-
posite side, and the current was very gentle, not being
three miles an hour. Soon the river greatly widened,,
or rather divided into two branches, enclosing " Grand
Island," which is twelve miles long and from two to
seven wide. We spied a bald-headed eagle on one of
its trees. Then we came to " Navy Island." It
belongs to the British Empire, and is about 300 acres
in extent. This was seized by some rebels 1837, and
was the scene of the burning of the Caroline, a vessel
supposed to be in their service, which was seized by
a Royalist party in the night, set on fire, and cut
adrift. She floated as far as the first rapids, lighting
up the troubled waters, but here she capsized, and
was extinguished.

Conversation, enlivened with anecdote, jest, and

g6 Niagara

song, made the time pass only too rapidly, and I
seemed quite to forget I was on the Niagara river, and
getting very near to the Falls. However, the narrow-
ing channel, and the increasing force of the current
reminded me ; and now all my attention was en-
grossed by the special features of the scene. I ob-
served that the river-banks were getting gradually
higher. This was not caused by the land rising, for
it remained level ; but by the descent of the water.
The dip of the river-bed could be distinctly seen.
We were evidently going downhill, and pretty rapidly
too. Looking ahead, the river seemed to terminate sud-
denly in a straight line, over which hovered the great
foam-cloud. Not very far in advance I saw the com-
mencement of the broken water, to enter which would
be destruction. The rest of the party were very
merry, so it would have been absurd for me to be
anxious — yet I felt that if the machinery were just
now to give way, nothing could save us, for we were
being driven along almost solely by the force of the
current, with just enough steam to steer by. Suddenly,
when within half a mile of the first rapids, we slipped
up the narrow " Chippewa Creek," till then so unob-
served that I began to wonder how we could possibly

Environs and Outflow. 97

come to any moorings. I heard of one of these
pleasure yachts, which on its return had not steam
enough to resist the current, and was being gradually
forced backwards towards the Fall. The party of
pleasure on board was at once turned into one of de-
spair, for all possibility of deliverance seemed gone.
Wood was heaped on the furnace in vain. Suddenly
the engineer thought of the tin of oil which was at
hand for the wheels. He threw its contents on the
fire, and then the boat gradually regained its mastery
over the river, and was out of the reach of danger.

Not far from the little village of " Chippewa" are
the famous " Burning Springs." A small building is
erected over them. I was taken into a dark chamber,
which had a hole in the floor, surmounted by a sort of
chimney, terminating in a pipe. A light being applied,
the carburetted hydrogen, which was being emitted,
burnt with a strong flame. I was directed to place
my hand on the orifice, which I did, feeling no heat,
while the gas, escaping through my fingers, ignited
above them. The cover was then removed, and,
looking down into the hole, we saw the surface of a
spring gurgling beneath the floor. A light being
applied, flames flickered over the surface of the water.


98 Niagara.

Between the Burning Spring and the Fall is a large
flour-mill, turned by the current; it is well worth
visiting. No complaints are made of the supply of
water being short ! Never is there any lack of power !
The only wonder is, that the current, running here with
great fury, at the rate of twenty miles an hour, can be
thus utilized, and the machinery not be torn in pieces
and the whole structure carried away. Near the mill
is a wooden platform, on the brink of the river, from
which there is a very grand view of the first Rapids,
the river beginning here to break, previous to its great

I may here introduce two incidents, which were
related to me at Mrs. Beecher Stowe's, and well-
authenticated. A friend of my informant, standing
one day on the river-bank, watching the Rapids, saw
a boat glide down, and go over, the only occupant of
which was a little child, about four years of age, look-
ing about with pleased curiosity, and quite unconscious
of danger !

A gentleman who was at Niagara, years ago, when
the Indians lived round about, saw a canoe, moored
to the American shore, near Goat Island ; an Indian
was lying down in it, fast asleep. Suddenly a girl

Environs and Outflow. 99

darted out from the thick foliage of the forest, and,
quick as thought, unfastened the rope, pushed the
canoe out into the current and disappeared. The
sudden motion and the roar of the Rapids, awakened
the man • he started up, and looked for his paddle —
the paddle with which he had often battled with the
tide — now his only hope for life ; but the paddle had
been taken away ! The canoe was now driving madly
down the stream. Calmly the Indian took his blanket,
folded up his head in it, stood upright, and so went
over ! Fiction can feign nothing more terribly sug-

I was told of a man who had frequently played
tricks by leaping off the cliff into the river near the
Falls. He was intending to do the same at the place
where a great celebrity acted the fool by crossing on

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