Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[graphic][graphic][merged small][merged small]

T

TWO centuries and more ago, when wooded Dufferin Islands lying in a shel

Father Hennepin first came upon tering elbow far up the hurrying river.

the “grand sault” of Niagara, it Rough railway bridges cross the rushing was set in a green solitude. Eagles, nest. water between these tiny islets, once an ing in the high cedar-tops, circled scream- inviolate, solitude, and till late strung toing through the mists of the “ Thunder of gether only by light footbridges. Waters.” And only the Red Man saw So Canada. Now come with me across and wondered.

that graceful steel-arched bridge spanning Time has changed all that. Gone are the gorge, and let us, looking back from the mighty cedars, and gone with them another country, behold what the Yankee the strong-winged eagles. In place of the has done with his heritage. cedar has sprung up the telegraph-pole. The mist-shrouded arch of the Horse In place of the screaming eagle has come shoe Fall draws our eyes irresistibly upthe shrieking trolley-wire. In place of the stream. It depends now upon how far solitary Red Man have come scurrying into the past we look whether we speak hordes of pale-faced picnickers. The sar- in praise or blame. Going back to the dine has entered Paradise.

days of La Salle and Hennepin, or even But why complain? We move, in fine. to the opening years of the century just And if we have swept away the poetry of past, we shall miss the giant oaks and the natural, have we not more than re- the dense thicket of young trees and luxplaced it by the wordless poetry of a uriant undergrowth which once fringed machine age? Come and see. Yonder the river bank and covered what is now is the Queen's—alas, no !—the King's Prospect Park. But if, on the other hand, Dominion. Where that smooth plain of we look back only to the time immediately greensward stretches along the top of the preceding the opening of the reservation, Canadian bluff, there was once a dense, in 1885, we shall miss, with indescribable luxuriant cedar-swamp. Mark you now exultation, a thousand sordid blemishes the toy trolleys crawling from one glaring of the scene. For the Reservation Com white post to another on the high cliff's missioners, with the scanty resources at brow. So they crawl, through leafy for- their command, have accomplished landests down the deep-carved gorge, all the scape miracles. Bath Island, once the way to Queenstown, and up to the lovely site of an obtrusive paper-mill, which

[graphic][merged small][merged small]

These stand where the original " Bridal Veil” once flowed, as shown on the opposite page

thrust its hideous sluiceways and wing- sheds, shapeless rookeries. Down the dams into the very heart of the tossing discolored face of the cliff run certain American Rapids, is now a stretch of exaggerated stovepipes, painted Indian smooth green turf, generously planted red, called penstocks, and certain toy with nursling trees, the metamorphosed caricatures of Niagara, contemptible dribplace being rechristened “Green Island.” lets of waste water. On the naked débrisBazaars, curio-shops, and tintype galleries, slope at the foot of the bluff, once clothed which had crowded themselves into the in the tenderest of mist-fed verdure, crouch very spray of the Falls, overhanging the two more factories, utilizing over again the rapids, and monopolizing, where they did water which has already turned the wheels not altogether obscure, the finest views of of the mills above. the river, have been swept away. The Instinctively one cries out in indignariver bank above the Falls, for many years tion, " Why is this allowed ?” Allowed ? disfigured with ice-houses, mills, and Pray who is to prevent it? The cliff here unsightly factories, has been cleared, and is outside the jurisdiction of the reserva the shore line restored as far as possible tion. Canada, rightly valuing her gorge, exto its natural wooded

tended the line of officondition, though not,

cial protection all the alas I to any semblance

way down to Queensof the glory of its pri

town. The American meval forests. Time

Commissioners recalone can reproduce

ommended, it is true, the original beauty of

that the bluff as far as that cruelly mutilated

the whirlpool become bank. But the Com

a part of the State missioners have given

park, but, niggardly time every opportunity

counsels prevailing, to get to work.

the gorge was abanBelow the American

doned to its fate. Fall, one seems to

Come, let us take remember, a slender

one of these yellow stream of water used to

trolleys and see what overleap the high cliff

that fate has been. wall and dash itself

Fresh from the sight to finest spray before

of the Canadian cliff, it reached the rocks

forest-crowned, and below. We called it

softly wooded to the the “ Bridal Veil.” In

very water's edge, we THE “BRIDAL Veil nocent though it look

are scarcely prepared ed, that film of water was the prophecy of to relish the contrast between the Canamighty things to come, of wealth to the vil- dian and the American sides of the lage of Niagara Falls, of ruin to Niagara's gorge. For, once as richly clothed as its matchless gorge. For that slender stream vis-à-vis, the American cliff, where it is was the outlet of the canal of the Hy- not wholly bald, has a ragged and mothdraulic Power Company.

eaten appearance, the reverse of luxuriant. Look now for the innocent Bridal Veil. The forests have been torn from its sumIt has “ multiplied itself by the hundred mit for many a mile downstream ; and it dozen.” And alas for the cedar-grown, makes the matter no better to reflect that vine-draped cliff i Under the very shadow a mile strip of this bluff belongs to the of the reservation, not two thousand Hydraulic Power Company, and that time feet from the plunge of the American will surely see it converted into a manuFall, huddles as foul and unsightly a mill-facturing district. From a point a little ing village as ever dishonored a rivers below the unbeautiful town of Suspension brink. Flush with the edge of the de Bridge, a long, slanting line cuts athwart nuded cliff they stand, fouring-mills, alu- the steep face of the cliff from its summit minum works, breweries, and whatnot, to the water's edge. That is the trolleyhulking factories, advertisement-blazoned track of the Gorge Railway. Certainly it

[graphic]
[graphic]
[ocr errors]

BEFORE DISFIGUREMENT

adds nothing to the beauty of the bluff, the Legislature at Albany appears to have and one has an uncomfortable suspicion overlooked. For since 1886 it has been that the building of that road may have busily granting to all who asked practically been in large measure responsible for the unlimited right to divert the waters of the nakedness of the cliff. Not altogether Niagara River above the Falls. Seven responsible, however, for quite obviously power companies have been organized there have been landslides. Whether or since that date: The Niagara Falls Power not landslides have been more frequent Company, with the right to divert water since the road disturbed the bank it may sufficient to produce two hundred thoube rash to inquire. In any case, we might sand horse-power, or 7,719,360 gallons per forgive much to the Gorge Railway for minute, or six per cent of the total amount the sake of the marvelous views it makes going over the Falls; the Lockport Water possible. What we cannot forgive is Supply Company, with the right to supply the gratuitous insult of the vast, glaring unlimited water to the city of Lockport signboard stretched on the perpendicular and any town or village in Niagara County; bank, down which letters of heroic size the Niagara County Irrigation and Water go marching Japanese fashion into the Supply Company, with right to supply gorge-GORGE ROAD. That style of adver- unlimited water to Lewiston and other tising deserves to react unfavorably upon cities and villages in the towns of Niagara, its perpetrators.

Lewiston, and Porter; the Lewiston Water If we permit the trolley which brings us Supply Company, amount unlimited; the back up the gorge to carry us on to Chip- Buffalo and Niagara Power Company, with pewa, we shall have. seen the last of the right to take unlimited water for doYankee outrages upon the river. For mestic, sanitary, commercial, manufacturChippewa, as well as the upper end of ing, and agricultural purposes; the Model Goat Island, commands a view of the Town Company, with the right to divert river above the American Rapids. It is by canal from La Salle an unlimited amount not a beautiful view. Tall red chimneys of water; and the Niagara, Lockport, and rise over a flourishing colony of low red Ontario Power Company, authorized to factories, and trailing clouds of soot stain supply water to Lockport and other villages the sky and the smooth reflecting surface and cities in Niagara, Erie, and Ontario of the river. That is the Upper Power Counties. And all these amazing priviPlant, with attendant factories, which leges the open-handed State has dispensed occupies the site of the old historic Fort without exacting so much as a penny in Schlosser, dating from 1762, and the still compensation for the enormously valuable older French fort of Little Niagara. franchises. It is no fault of the State

So much for the desecration of the Legislature that, for lack of capital or scenery of Niagara. Purely practical enterprise, some of these companies have people, I know, are a bit contemptuous allowed their charters to lapse, while of such protests as mine, regarding the others have been bought up by the Niagara æsthetic loss of the power plants as more Falls Power Company, so that but one than offset by the commercial gain. “If company is in actual operation to-dayyou will have an omelet,” say they one, that is, besides the old Hydraulic (meaning thereby, if you will have electric Power Company, established in 1862, power), "you must break some eggs.' which originally held no grant from the That might, perhaps, be excellent reason- State. In 1897, however, the thoughtful ing had not the State already invested Legislature confirmed the claims of this some two and a half millions of dollars in company, thus intrenching behind impregNiagara for purely æsthetic purposes. nable rights that wretched milling village

But be that as it may. The point which beside the Falls. next demands our attention is strictly a These two companies are at present practical one. If it is worth while to have taking from the Niagara River seven a waterfall at all (and the State of New million three hundred thousand odd York would seem to stand committed to gallons of water per minute, or about six that position), then it is manifestly desir- per cent. of the total flow over the Falls. able to have water enough to go over the When the Upper Company have exhausted falls. Yet that is the precise point which their present limit, nine per cent. of the river's water will have been turned aside the Mist” have been necessary to enable before it reaches the Falls.

her to land her passengers when the river And the effect on the Falls ? Super- is low. During a heavy gale last October, ficial observers readily convince them- laden vessels were unable to make their selves that there has been a distinctly piers at Tonawanda, so low was the water, noticeable decline in the volume of the while at Niagara bare rocks showed American Fall. Experts, however, jug- through the breakers of the American gling with mean depths, velocities, and Rapids. percentages, assure us that the diversion Expert calculations forbidding us to of water into the power tunnels and canals lay all this at the door of the power comhas not reduced the depth of the crest of panies, we must look further for an explathe fall to an extent appreciable to the nation. Six hundred miles further it

[graphic]

COPYRIGHT, 1998, DETROIT PHOTOGRAPHIC CO.

THE WHIRLPOOL RAPIDS Showing the nakedness of the American bluff in contrast to the richly wooded Canadian bluff. eye. And yet the superficial observers appears; for the foe of Niagara is, if I are right, too. The river is low, and in mistake not, the, Chicago Main Drainage times of drought or unfavorable winds a Canal.

Canal. Nor am, I unsupported by expert phenomenally small amount of water goes testimony in this matter. Mr. Willis over the American Fall. Proof of these Moore, of the United States Weather lamentable facts are not wanting. For Bureau, at the close of his official tour of several years the lovely little fall between the Great Lakes, declared emphatically Goat Island and the first of the Sisters, that the effect of the opening of the Drainknown as the Hermit's Cascade, has been age Canal had been, not, as so often said, so nearly dry that last year it was neces- to lower the level of the lakes, but to sary to deepen the channel above the diminish the amount of water going over cascade to restore the old volume of Niagara Falls. water and the original beauty of the fall. The thing is simple enough when you Furthermore, within the last few years think of it. Picture to yourself the four alterations in the dock of the “Maid of upper lakes, which are practically on the

« AnteriorContinuar »