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Vermont, William Bailey, and Nathan Beman, commenced a settlement at Chateaugay.
Soon after, Mr. Nathan Wood, of Vermont, settled in Malone. Constable was settled about the same time.
The first standard captured from the enemy, in the late war with Great Britain, was taken at Bombay, by Major G. D. Young, a native of Connecticut, on the 22d of October, 1812.
Major Young was commandant of a detachment of the Troy volunteers stationed at French Mills, (now Fort Covington,) and having learned that a party of the enemy had arrived at the village of St. Regis, and that more were shortly expected, resolved to surprise them before they could be reinforced. He accordingly marched a detachment in the night to the vicinity of the village, surrounded the enemy, and captured forty prisoners, with their arms, equipments, &c., one stand of colors, and two batteaux, without the loss of a single man.
A skirmish took place on the 25th of October, 1813, at Chateaugay, between the British light troops and Indians, and a detachment of American troops, under General Izard, in which the latter were repulsed with the loss of fifty men.
In February, 1814, a detachment of British and Indians, numbering about 2300 men, made an incursion into Malone, and penetrated as far as Chateaugay Four Corners, when, hearing of the approach of American troops, they retreated in great confusion, suffering severely in their flight, from a storm of snow and hail. Upwards of 200 men deserted during this retreat.
Fort Covington, in this county, was erected during the last war, and a part of the army wintered here in 1813–14.
VILLAGES. MALONE, in the town of the same name, is the seat of justice for the county. It is situated on both sides of the Salmon river, which here furnishes a large amount of water power, and is surrounded by a fertile country. In the vicinity are extensive veins of valuable iron ore. The village has several manufactories of cotton goods, leather, scythes, pails, &c. The Franklin academy, located here, is in a flourishing condition. Population 1000.
Fort Covington, located at the head of navigation, on Salmon river, is a flourishing village, largely employed in the lumber trade, and has an incorporated academy and several manufactories. The fort here was an important military post during
The village was then known as the “French Mills.” It received its present name in honor of General Covington, who was slain at the battle of Williamsburgh, November 13th, 1813. Population 1000.
TOWNS. 1. Cambria, 1808.
7. Wilson, 1918. 2. Hartland, 1812.
8. Somerset, 1823. 3. Niagara, 1512.
9. Lockport, 1824. 4. Porter, 1912.
10. Newfane, 1824. 5. Lewiston, 1813.
11. Pendleton, 1827. 6. Royalton, 1817.
12. Wheatfield, 1829. Rivers, &c. M. Niagara River. a. Eighteen Mile Creek. b. John
son's. c. Tuscarora. f. Howel's. r. Tonawanda. Falls. SS. Niagara Falls. Lakes. J. Lake Ontario. Battle Fields. Niagara. Forts. Niagara. Schlosser. Villages. LOCKPORT. Lewiston. Niagara Falls Village. Youngs
BOUNDARIES. North by Lake Ontario; East by Orleans and Genesee counties; South by Erie county, and West by Niagara river.
SURFACE. Like most of the other counties lying on Lake Ontario, Niagara county is divided by the Ridge Road and the mountain ridge, into three terraces, of which the two northernmost rise gradually from the lake shore to the mountain ridge; while the southern declines almost imperceptibly toward Tonawanda creek. The surface is therefore generally quite level, having no more than sufficient inequality to secure its effectual drainage.
RIVERS. The county is well watered. Besides Niagara river, which forms its western boundary, the principal streams are Tonawanda creek, which divides it from Erie county, Tuscarora, Eighteen Mile, Johnson's and Howel's creeks, falling into Lake Ontario; and Cayuga creek, a tributary of Niagara river.
Falls. This county, conjointly with Niagara district, Canada West, includes the world renowned cataract of Niagara.
To portray fully the wonders of this stupendous waterfall, exceeds the powers of the human mind, and requires a language commensurate with its grandeur and magnificence. We shall therefore only attempt to describe the different elements which combine to render it the most extraordinary of natural wonders, and leave it to the imagination of the reader to group them into one harmonious whole, although nothing but an actual view of the falls, from several points, can give any adequate conception of its surpassing beauty and sublimity.
For a distance of three-fourths of a mile above the falls, the river, over two miles in breadth, hurries forward in a succession of rapids, whose roar, combined with that of the cataract, may sometimes be heard for a distance of twenty miles.
The descent accomplished by these rapids, is between fifty and sixty feet, and their imposing grandeur strikes the beholder with admiration and awe. As the waters approach the fall, the width of the river is compressed to about half a mile. Here it suddenly turns to the eastward, making almost a right angle in its course, and, immediately below the falls, is contracted to a width of only seventysix rods. In consequence of this bend, the view of the cataract from the American side is more in profile than that on the Canada side, where a short distance below the falls a front view is presented, giving the visitor at a glance an idea of its vast magnificence,
Just above the falls, in the middle of the river, lies Goat or Iris Island, half a mile long, and about one-fourth of a mile wide, containing seventy-five acres. This has been connected with several adjacent small islands, by bridges, and these again with the American shore. Iris island is heavily timbered, and has a number of fine walks, and a large garden.
It extends over the cataract, and presents a wall of perpendicular rock, separating the crescent or Canadian fall, from the American portion of the cataract. This latter is again divided by Luna island, a small islet. There are thus three distinct cascades, one on the Canadian, and two on the American side.
The lower fall, or that nearest the American shore, is more than 300 yards in width, and 164 feet in height. The central fall, extending from Luna to Iris island, has the same height, but is only twenty yards in breadth. Both have a gentle curve in their outline.
From the comparative shallowness of the waters on the American side, they are constantly dashed into foam, ere they reach the precipice.
On the Canadian side of Iris island, is the great Horse Shoe or Crescent fall, over which pour seven-eights of the volume of water composing this mighty stream. It is about 700 yards in width, and 158 feet in height. The deep green of its billows is only relieved by the crests of white foam which surmount them.
To the spectator, standing on Iris island, the cataract is veiled in a cloud of almost impenetrable mist, and all attempts to explore its apparently unfathomable depths seem futile. But in the clear sunlight, this mist is the source of new surprise and admiration; the rainbow, “the crescent of the abyss," with its everchanging hues, spans the impenetrable cloud, and adds new beauty to the scene. The view from Table rock, on the Canadian side, is more distinct, and gives the spectator a better comparative view of the three falls.
Terrapin Bridge, 300 feet from Goat island, extends ten feet over the falls, and near its end, in the water, and upon the edge of the precipice, a stone tower, forty-five feet high, has been erected. The view of the fall from the top of this tower is very grand, but requires some steadiness of nerve.
The banks of the river below the precipice constitute an almost perpendicular wall, nearly 200 feet in height, requiring artificial means for descending to the water's edge. For this purpose, three staircases have been erected. The first is on the main land, on the American side, giving access to the ferry. Recently a railway, moved by hydraulic power, has been constructed, to facilitate the deocent. The river is crossed in safety in a row boat, propelled by a single person.
A second staircase was erected in 1829, on the perpendicular face of Iris island, at the expense of the late Nicholas Biddle. A rude but strong flight of common steps leads down a steep declivity of about forty feet, to the head of the Biddle stair case, which is in the form of a hexagon, enclosing triangular steps, that wind spirally round a large and solid oaken shaft. The descent accomplished by these is about 80 feet. Paths lead from the foot of these stairs, to the river brink, to the verge of the British fall, and to the Central fall, and the Cave of the Winds behind it.
The third staircase is on the Canadian side, and conducts the visitor under the overhanging ledge of Table rock. Here he will find a path leading under the Great Crescent fall, by which, if he chooses to venture, he may pass, for a distance of about 150 feet, behind this vast mass of waters.
The depth of the river, a short distance below the cataract, is 250 feet. The quantity of water poured over the falls has been variously estimated. Dr. Dwight computed it at more than 100 millions of tons per hour.
About three miles below the falls, is a whirlpool, produced by the projection of a rocky promontory, against which the waters of the river have, for ages, hurled their angry billows in vain. In this whirlpool, timber and the dead bodies of men or animals, which have been precipitated over the cataract, are often retained for days, and sometimes for weeks, ere they pass the narrow outlet. About a mile below this is a deep ravine, where formerly there was another whirlpool, but the waters, after centuries of unceasing action, wrought out for themselves a more quiet passage. This gloomy dell was, some seventy-five or eighty years since, the scene of a fearful tragedy, which will be related in the historical sketch of the county. It is called “the devil's hole.”
LAKES. Lake Ontario forms the northern boundary of the county.
Canals. The Erie canal passes through the southeastern and southern pir ons of the county.
RAILROADS. The Buffalo and Niagara falls railroad connects Niagara falls with the lines of railroad from Albany. There is also a railroad connecting Lockport and Niagara falls with a branch extending to Lewiston.
CLIMATE. Owing to the vicinity of the lakes, the climate is mild and equable. It is considered healthful. Here, as in Erie county, fruits flourish in greater persection, and vegetation is earlier than in the same parallels in the eastern counties.
GEOLOGY AND MINERALS. The Medina sandstone is the basis rock of the county, and makes its appearance near the Lake shore; above this appears the Clinton group of limestones; the Niagara group forms the surface rock of the second terrace, and abounds in fossils; the Onondaga salt group appears as the surface rock of the third terrace, and contains as usual large quantities of gypsum, and numerous brine springs.
Bog iron ore is found in various parts of the county ; copper, in minute quantities, has been discovered near Lockport; sulphate of strontian, calcareous spar, anhydrous sulphate of lime, selenite, pearl spar, and occasionally fluor spar, and şulphuret of zinc, are found at Lockport. Sulphur springs are numerous; some of them have considerable reputation. The brine springs are too weak to be of much practical value. There is also a chalybeate spring, and one emitting carburetted hydrogen gas, in sufficient quantity to maintain a steady flame. Shell marl is found in the swamps.
SOIL AND VEGETABLE PRODUCTIONS. The soil is highly fertile, yielding grains and grasses in abundance. Fruit is cultivated here in great perfection. The timber is mainly oak, beech, maple, tamarack, ash, &c.
PURSUITS. A majority of the inhabitants are engaged in agricultural pursuits. The culture of wheat and the other grains, occupies the attention of most of the farmers of the county. Butter and wool are also produced in considerable quantities.
The manuf ictures of the county are numerous, and constantly increasing in value and importance. Flour is manufactured in large quantities. Lumber, cotton and woollen goods, iron ware, potash and leather, are the other principal articles produced. Their value, in 1845, was nearly two millions of dollars.
Commerce. The commerce of the county is quite extensive, both on the lake and on the canal. Lewiston is the principal port on the Niagara river.
STAPLE PRODUCTIONS. Wheat is the great staple of this county. The other principal agricultural products, are oats, corn, potatoes, peas, butter and wool.
Schools. In 1846, there were in the county 158 district school-houses, in which schools were maintained an average period of eight months each. 11,919 children received instruction, at an expense for tuition of $15,034. The number of volumes in the district libraries was 16,612.
822 pupils were instructed in twenty-nine select schools. the county one academy, and one female seminary, with 185 students.
Religious DENOMINATIONS. Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, Episcopalians, Friends, Congregationalists, Universalists, Dutch Reformed, Lutherans, and Roman Catholics. There are fifty churches and fifty-nine clergymen of all denominations, in the county.
HISTORY. In 1697, M. de la Salle erected a palisade fort at or near the site of Fort Niagara.
In 1712, the Tuscarora Indians removed to this county from
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