Niagara Falls State Park: Maid of the Mist

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Western NY Parks

In September, I set out with a road trip buddy to visit some park units in upstate New York. For me, the highlight of this trip was visiting my 100th National Park Service unit. That puts me at Bronze status in the National Parks Traveler’s Club. After Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site we headed to Niagara Falls. We started our full day in the park out with a trip on the Maid of the Mist.

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls consists of three waterfalls which span the Niagara Gorge along the United States and Canadian border. Horseshoe Falls, the largest of the three, straddles the border and is also called the Canadian Falls. The smaller American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls lie on the New York State side of the border.

Goat Island in New York separates the Canadian Falls from the other two falls. The Niagara River forms all of the falls as it runs through the gorge. These are the most powerful waterfalls in North America. Nearly 6 million cubic feet flow over the falls every minute.

In 1883, then governor Grover Cleveland authorized land acquisition to create a state park to preserve the area around the Falls. Canada followed suit and created the Queen Victoria Niagara Falls Park on the Canadian side.

Maid of the Mist

We boarded the Maid of the Mist for an up close look at the falls. The boat departed from the base of the observation tower. Staff handed us some blue ponchos to put over our clothes

First, we traveled to the American Falls. After that, the boat motored across the river to the Canadian Falls. No passport required. The Canadian Falls are more vertical, so the boat was able to get closer.

By the American Falls and Bridal Veil

The original steam-powered Maids of the Mist started running this course in 1846. In 1955, the company replaced them with diesel-powered vessels. In 2020, the ships were replaced with electric.

These new boats bear the names of James V. Glynn, CEO of the Maid of the Mist, and Nikola Tesla. Tesla invented the alternating current motor and was part of the team to build the power plant at Niagara Falls.

These are the first ships here named something other than “Maid of the Mist.” Maid of the Mist derives from the Iroquois legend of Lelawala. Lelawala, the chief’s daughter, became the “Maiden of the Mist” when she volunteered to sacrifice herself in order to appease Hinu, the river god. She canoed over Niagara Falls and awakened in the cave of Hinu’s son.

Heading to the Canadian side

Western NY Road Trip

Location: 1 Prospect St, Niagara Falls, NY
Designation: State Park
Date designated/established: 1885
Date of my visit: September 26, 2022

By the Canadian Falls

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