And just below the falls: The Maid of the Mist

A modern "Maid of the Mist" below the falls (photo source: Wikipedia)

By now – if you even care – you must know Friday evening’s massively-hyped, first-ever, tightrope walk across the top of Niagara Falls was successful.

There have been tightrope walks in previous centuries, but at less-spectacular locations – see Blondin, for example. And of course, people have gone over the falls in barrels and such, with less happy outcomes.

But I’d like to talk about the Maid of the Mist. I was dismayed to read that the venerable tour boat company is in trouble, as detailed by the New York Times in this article from May of this year. I hope the difficulties can be resolved satisfactorily.

When I ran a search to retrieve that article yesterday, lo and behold! I stumbled across two fun archival NYT articles from 1861.

The first, from June 9th, recounts the boat’s successful run through the formidable whirlpool and rapids, heading to Ontario, on the lam from creditors, so to speak.

But the idea that anything made of wood could outlive a voyage down these terrible rapids, was regarded absurd. The prospect of its being tried, however, drew at least three or four hundred people to the banks of the river. All day there had been a bustle of mysterious preparation on board the steamer. Hatches were being nailed down and everything made taut, but no satisfaction could be had by inquiring minds. A little past three she cut loose from her moorings, about a quarter of a mile above the bridge, and steamed gallantly up towards the Falls. A murmur of disappointed expectation ran through the crowd, when suddenly, as she reached a point about halt way up to the Falls, she turned with a graceful curve and headed downwards.

And how did it go? Read the full article!

The second, June 11th, rounded out the tale.

The passage of the Maid of the Mist through the Rapids of Niagara, continues to cause considerable talk, and now that the feat has been accomplished, the wonder that it was undertaken does not cease. We hear some further particulars about the matter, which are interesting.

Again, that’s just a teaser as I hope you’ll click on that link too.

Niagara Falls was an early destination for a family trip when we moved to Ontario in 1999. To be honest, it seemed much, much shorter than I expected. On the other hand, the sheer volume of cascading water is spectacular.

Another surprise for me was how clean and well-manicured the public spaces, park land and bike trails were – on the Canadian side. I have yet to fully explore the New York side. The Canadian side has its own Las Vegas/carnival style strip, to be sure. But one can enjoy that or avoid it, as they wish. There are a number of nice gardens, butterfly and horticultural attractions which we liked more.

The falls, though, are a natural wonder. Of course we took a ride on the Maid. It was a hoot!

Have you been there? What did you like – or dislike – about your experience?

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6 Comments on “And just below the falls: The Maid of the Mist”

  1. Pete Klein says:

    I hope the Maid of the Mist can be saved and I also think Nik’s successful walk is the only interesting news of the day.
    Congrats, Nik!

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  2. PNElba says:

    In my experience, passengers on the Maid of the Mist can be bombarded with seagull ……..

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  3. @tourpro says:

    Just a little research would reveal that the actual issue with the Maid are the many years of no-bid contract. They are only in trouble because the bidding process was opened up to other companies that are offering greater compensation to the the state of New York.

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  4. tootightmike says:

    So does this open up competition from the likes of the dame of the downpour, the sweetheart of the spray, the woman of the waves, and the tart of the torrents??

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  5. Hank says:

    “So does this open up competition from the likes of the dame of the downpour, the sweetheart of the spray, the woman of the waves, and the tart of the torrents??”

    Actually, it will be the femme fatale of the falls.

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  6. Sunshine says:

    Having grown up within spitting distance of N.F., N.Y., I’ve spent many hours walking the paths on Goat Island (American side) as well as downtown N.F., N.Y. and N.F., Ontario, Canada.
    Always a treat when family/friends paid a visit to western N.Y. Especially remember my husband’s old Navy buddy bringing his mid-western wife to visit. When she saw the Falls for the very first time, she jumped up and down and screamed…she was so excited!
    I hiked the Niagara River gorge as a teen and walked many times across the old suspension bridge to Queenston (Ontario, Canada) that used to be in the village of Lewiston (now gone with a new bridge in the town of Lewiston).
    N.F., N.Y. was a thriving city until E. Dent Lackey, mayor of N.F., N.Y. back in the early ’60’s decided to tear down most of the city near the falls and build a convention center, virtually destroying and making a ghost town of that part of the city.
    N.F.,N.Y. was an industrial city…thus a high employment rate until most industry moved south or closed down.
    The aforementioned events coupled with a corrupt city government made stateside N.F. what it is today.
    N.F., Ontario has maintained a clean environment, even in the ‘touristy’ areas. Their school of horticulture maintains the grounds along the Niagara River from N.F. to Niagara-on-the-Lake.
    Much can be learned from the twin cities stories.

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