While traveling through Niagara Falls USA, visitors will encounter countless historic sites, museums and parks that played key roles in the formation of the United States as we know it today.
From Native American settlements and the region's significance in three wars, to the construction of the Erie Canal, we have fascinating stories to be told.
- The Settlement
Niagara County was settled by Westerners six years after the settlement of Jamestown, Virginia, and five years before the Pilgrims arrived in Plymouth Rock. A man named Etienne Brule came to the Niagara region in 1615 to gain the aid of Seneca Indians against the Iroquois. At that time, the Seneca Indians were the protectors of the Niagara land and the waterway rights of the Niagara River, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. Niagara County was officially chartered in 1808.
- The Discovery
Father Louis Hennepin is credited for being the first Westerner to discover Niagara Falls-but by accident. Father Hennepin was accompanying French Explorer Sieur LaSalle when they landed in Lewiston on December 6, 1687. Their discovery was a good one, but they were way off track searching for the Mississippi River. Father Hennepin wrote about his discovery upon his return to Europe.
- The Wars
Niagara Falls USA played a key role in three American wars. Old Fort Niagara was a major center of operations during the French and Indian War, when the Fort served as a base for raids by Native American Warriors and French partisans against the British. The British reclaimed Fort Niagara in 1759. During the American Revolution, the Fort was a haven for British loyalists who opposed the revolution. When the War of 1812 began, U.S troops at Fort Niagara attacked British troops in Canada. The British captured the Fort in December 1813, only to see it returned to the U.S. after the war.
- The Erie Canal
Niagara Falls USA plays an important role in the success and development of the Erie Canal. During the construction of the Canal, architects discovered a sixty foot drop in Lockport, NY. Lockport native, Nathan Roberts, devised the solution to construct the which were necessary in order for boats to continue their passage en route to Buffalo. Construction began by hand in 1823 with the assistance of a man named Orange Dibble who invented a horse operated crane to accelerate construction of the locks. In 1825, the Erie Canal opened and New York Governor DeWitt Clinton and the Marquis de Lafayette boarded the Seneca Chief vessel that ceremoniously passed through the locks. Lockport is now home to the Flight of Five, which is the only set of double locks on the Erie Canal. Navigate this historic marvel on a two hour cruise with Lockport Locks & Erie Canal Cruises.
- The Underground Railroad
During the 1800s, hundreds of heroic men and women of the Niagara region worked with Harriet Tubman to assist slaves escaping to freedom in Canada. Dozens of churches, homes, farmhouses and other dwellings across Niagara Falls USA were used as hiding places in the Underground Railroad movement. Many of these sites still stand today.
- The Visitors
Niagara Falls USA has always been a destination for notable visitors including Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, the Marquis de Lafayette, Shirley Temple Black, Marilyn Monroe, King George V and Princess Diana. Many U.S. Presidents have also visited the Falls. President Martin Van Buren visited Lockport in 1839 and President McKinley visited Lewiston just before traveling to the 1901 Pan-American Exhibition in Buffalo, where he was assassinated. President Kennedy also visited Lockport in 1960 while campaigning for the presidency.