After 80 years distilling has returned to the Niagara Frontier.

On January 29, 1919, the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution achieved the necessary three-fourths majority of state ratification. Six months later Prohibition of alcohol production, distribution, storage and consumption all alcoholic beverages began.  The ban was given teeth by the passage, over the veto of then President Woodrow Wilson, of the Volstead Act on October 28, 1919. The Volstead Act provided for the a Federal Prohibition Police Agency within the Treasury Department.  Legitimate and Bootlegger producers of  beer, wine, and distilled spirits were aggressively shut down across the country.

The constitutional amendment that ushered in the era of Prohibition ended 14 years later in 1933.  Over the past 80 years it is obvious beer, wine and distilled spirits are  now  produced in this nation by some of the largest and smallest companies in the world.  Finally after all that time, a distiller has established itself in the City of Buffalo and promises to use locally grown product and water to produce “initially” Rye Whiskey and Vodka.  Prior to prohibition Rye was the undisputed king of American distilled beverages.

Hats off, congratulations and wish for success is extended to Eight Buffalo Spirits LLC  on its receipt, two days ago, of a New York State license to begin production.  Like Flying Bison Brewery, Community Beer Works, and the many local wineries we have another local business that deserves Western New York’s consideration and support.

Eight Bison




A followup to Fort Little Niagara “Old Stone Chimney”

When you teach local history you teach Buffalo-Niagara Falls history. and its role in the War of 1812, you give mention to Fort Niagara and Fort Schlosser as the guardians of the portage that bypasses the mighty Niagara Falls.  Fort Niagara gets the greatest coverage because it exists and is a tourist attraction.  Fort Schlosser/Fort Petit Niagara) are gone and have been gone for near 200 years.

One month ago I did a piece about my stumbling across an “Old Stone Chimney” which is a surviving remnant of the now gone forts.    This hidden gem led me to this tidbit of information:

Fort Little Niagara: 1750, Niagara County, Niagara Falls.   A small blockhouse and storehouse was first erected in 1745 at a location known   as “Frenchman’s Landing.” In 1751 the upper end of the portage from Fort Niagara  was moved a few hundred yards South and Fort Little Niagara or Fort du Portage   was constructed. Consisted of three good sized blockhouses with palisades between   them and the river. Destroyed when abandoned in 1759 at the approach of the   English. Rebuilt by British as Fort Schlosser in 1760.

fort little niagara drawing

Source:  New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center

For a city that is looking for  alternative attractions to the mighty Niagara Falls maybe the  leaders of the City of Niagara Falls should look for a developer and operator of a restored “Fort Petit (Little) Niagara.”  Maybe that operator could be Maid of the Mist Steam Boat Company.   It recently signed a contract with the State of New York to build a facility down in the gorge for its boat trips to the base of the Niagara Falls. Adding a reconstructed 18th century fort with dock above the falls in the upper river could be another tourist attraction and revenue source.

Small number of fans giving Borussia Dortmund big problems.

A small group of people is causing problems for thousands of  living in Buffalo’s Sister-City/Twin Town of Dortmund, Germany.  Their football (soccer) club, historic Borussia Dortmund, is one of the premier clubs of German football.  It plays in the largest football stadium in Germany.  Their matches have been making news because a small group of neo-nazi thugs have infiltrated the grounds attempting to draw attention to themselves and their discredited agenda.

The call of racist chants and an increase in violence have occurred during league matches and have brought negative press to this giant of the BundesligaUSA Today has just reported the problem in a recent issue and was very clear in announcing that the perpetrators number roughly 100 and appear in a section of the huge Westfalenstadion   which accommodates some 24,000 fans of its 80, 600 capacity.

This is probably the same amount rowdy drunks that can cause problems in our Ralph Wilson Stadium  which at 73,000 seats for Buffalo Bills games is only slightly smaller than Westfalenstadion.  The only problem is full blown hatred is much more dangerous than people who’ve had a beer too many.  And yet in either case everyone gets labeled.

The type of intolerant behavior being exhibited in Dortmund, or anywhere else in the world, has no place in a civilized society..  Over the centuries it has wreaked havoc on nations and continents.  No sense in retelling the story, we all know the dangers.

Dortmund like Buffalo is a city of immigrants and colors.  We share a history of  industrial might and are both in the process of reinventing themselves due to shifting economies.  We owe an offer of moral support to our Dortmunder friends.  Let’s hope that the great fans of Borussia Dortmund and good people of the city don’t’ allow the few to get away with mindless anger in trying to end 68 years of growth and progress. .

Buffalo-Dortmund have had ties since 1977.

Buffalo loses another piece of its history.

In 1811 Samuel Wilkeson was a 30-year-old man who was born outside of Pittsburgh, PA and was living in Portland, NY.  He was a salt merchant, freight forwarder and a bit of a shipbuilder.  When the war of 1812 began he was making boats for the army.  By 1815 he was a member of the Chautauqua Militia defending the Village of Buffalo from invading Canadians and British who ultimately burnt the village to the ground in retaliation for the earlier burning of York (Toronto) Canada by U.S. troops.

Wilkeson liked what he saw of Buffalo and stayed.  During his life he took personal responsibility for a then enormous $12,000 state loan to secure the construction of the first Buffalo Harbor.  He then led the fight to see that the Erie Canal terminated in Buffalo and not the Village of Black Rock,now a part of the city of Buffalo.   He raised a family, became a village trustee, County Judge, State Senator and in 1836 the 5th mayor of the new City of Buffalo (1832).  Samuel Wilkeson passed away in 1848, but not before seeing the birth of his grandson and namesake – Samuel Wilkeson.

The younger Wilkeson began military service during the Civil War as a Lieutenant with the 11th New York Cavalry.  He was regularly promoted until reaching the rank of full Colonel.  Wilkeson saw action over four years of service in Maryland, Virginia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.  In 1885, Col. Wilkeson purchased a home at what is now 771 Busti Ave.  It is of a design called Italianate Architecture and was constructed in 1862, a mere 151 years ago.

The home will be razed to accommodate the Peace Bridge Authority.    It is one of the oldest homes in Buffalo.  It has been allowed to deteriorate.  No one wanted to save it.  No one wanted to move it.  Only a few saw its value but lacked the resources to make a difference.

Why is the home facing a bulldozer extermination?  After years and years of acrimonious local debate, a new Peace Bridge vehicle plaza will be constructed to process truck freight traffic.  Tractor-trailers arriving from a semi-rural Canadian municipality and passing through the heart of a densely populated urban/college community are deemed more important than the local neighborhood.  I presume the 2nd bridge will soon be built leading to the disappearance of yet another part of the Olmsted designed Front Park along with more neighboring buildings on Busti Ave.  This part of the road itself might even become a memory.

What makes it ironic is that just 2.2 miles away down Busti Ave. to Virginia St to Niagara St. to Pearl St. lies the heart of the City of Buffalo “Canalside” district and the Commercial Slip.  This place is Judge Samuel Wilkeson’s Western Terminus of the Erie Canal.

Sadly the prevalent buzz word often used in this area by people who do not see history as a positive and a potential attraction is “obstructionist.”   In this instance the non-obstructionists won their case.   A historic home, labeled an out of date derelict,  will disappear and the city will lose a connection to the family that played such a huge role in this community’s early history and growth.

Too bad there wasn’t even a thought given to relocation, not even to the canal harbor for use as a visitors center, waterfront museum, or, period invoking B & B.

Buffalo’s Best Kielbasa Contest looking for competitors.

612 Fillmore Ave., Buffalo, New York 14212

Maybe you even think that your kielbasa is the Best in Buffalo. Applications are actively being sought for Buffalo’s Best Kielbasa Contest in both Commercial and Homemade categories.

Here’s your chance to prove it. Adam Mickiewicz Library & Dramatic Circle (Mickey’s) and Tornspace Theatre are bringing back the spirited “Buffalo’s Best Kielbasa Contest” on Dyngus Day, April 1, 2013 at noon. This way you can start your Dyngus Day celebration early in Polonia at Buffalo’s M…ost Authentic and Original Dyngus Day Celebration.

This Contest will converge Dyngus Day revelers, polish beer connoisseurs, and polish sausage lovers into the Heart of Polonia to determine Buffalo’s Best Kielbasa. The sponsor of this event is Fillmore District Council Member David A. Franczyk and he is looking for the best kielbasa-makers in the area.

The winner of this year’s contest will receive a basket of Polish Cheer and best of all, the honor of being designated Buffalo’s Best Homemade and Commercial Kielbasa and People’s Choice Winner.

The contest will be held at the Adam Mickiewicz Library and Dramatic Circle, 612 Fillmore Ave, Buffalo, NY from Noon- 3pm. During the contest, a Polish Beer Tasting Bar will be conducted at the bar with the unique brands of Polish Beer we feature throughout the year. Tastings will be offered (3 for $1 or 6 for $2) and you can certainly buy a bottle to enjoy.

Anyone who wishes to participate in the kielbasa contest must register in advance by completing a registration form. Any questions can be emailed to, or by calling 716-479-2342.

Admission to the contest is $10. Admission includes a ballot to vote for the People’s Choice Contest, one draft beer, a commemorative cup for beer tasting, and admission to evening activities at Mickey’s beginning at 5pm

Note: Adam Mickiewicz Library & Dramatic Circle, Inc. is pleased to announce that Amtec from Brooklyn, NY, will once again be sponsoring the prizes for the winning kielbasa in both the Commercial & Indiviudual categories. Also, the Amtec tasting bar will be returning.

The Buffalo History Museum to offer a new “Family History Club.”

NEW! Family History Club



Featuring activities around varying historic themed topics.
Each club meeting includes family historic crafts, museum exhibit tours,and an artifact scavenger hunt.
10 am – 12 noon  March 9:Trains
    April 13: Pioneer Life
               May 11: Collections: What do you collect?
June 8: The Pan Am: Buffalo in 1901
    July 13: The Civil War


$10/child general public, $5/child for members, Adults are free

One Museum Court (Elmwood Ave. & Nottingham Terr.)

Contact Tara Lyons at for program information 716. 873. 9644 ext 0 to make a reservation. Pre-registration required. Limit 40 children.

Visit  for more event info

The public has turned it into Buffalo’s “train to no-where.”

The 6 mile  MetroRail serving the City of Buffalo is called by many detractors as the “train to no-where.”  All you get is a trip from the foot of Main St. along and under it terminating at the City Campus of the State University of New York @ Buffalo.  There is a real love hate relationship with this route.  The users appreciate and flock to it.  I being one.  I have no problem driving to the campus and hopping the train to get downtown for an event.

The detractors who still bash this “train to no-where” are pretty much the same people who were opposed to its construction in the first place.  The next group of detractors represents the younger folk who see a bare-boned 6 mile route and automatically presume the route represents the original intention.  And the last are the people of the suburban communities of Tonawanda and Amherst that opposed and continue to oppose expansion of the route into their neighborhoods.  They represent those among use that drive everywhere.  They will complain about the high cost of gasoline but they will drive 2 miles to a supermarket to save fifty cents on a half-gallon of milk.  Riding urban transit is also below their station in life.

As a result of public opposition, this area does not have an integrated people mover system that can transport people to and from the massive 25,000 student Amherst Campus of SUNY or the City of Lockport.  Nor, can you ride the LaSalle Corridor into the Tonawandas and quite possibly the tourist meccas of Niagara Falls.

Forward thinking cities have taken a completely different approach and prosper as a result.  The original City of Portland, Oregon rail system has been expanded into a 52 mile  city/suburban operation with plans to expand 3 more miles across the Columbia River into the State of Washington.  Salt Lake City completed a rapid transit route only in 1999.  It was a 10 mile route from Salt Lake City to the suburb of Sandy.   Over the past 13 years that single line has been transformed into a Blue, Red, and Green Line system as a result of  West Valley – Jordan Extension, Salt Lake City International Airport Extension, and Draper Extension.  Several other expansions are under consideration.

At this moment Atlanta, Baltimore, Austin, Hamilton (Ontario Canada), Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Edmonton (Alberta Canada), Virginia-Beach/Hampton Roads, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Monterrey Bay, Ottawa (Ontario Canada), Philadelphia, Phoenix, Raleigh, Sacramento, St. Louis, San Francisco, San José, Seattle, Toronto (Ontario Canada), Waterloo (Ontario Canada), York (Ontario Canada) all have rapid transit route extensions in the works.

What is Buffalo, NY doing?  Today the train station at the Theater District is being removed to make way for the cars of suburbanites who don’t want rapid transit in their communities, don’t want to ride rapid transit downtown and are adamant the only way they will patronize anything in the city is if they can drive there to park or avoid having to walk a bit by being dropped off directly in front of their venue.

Finally, to prevent expansion into the southern suburbs, a 1000 car parking ramp will be located right at the Buffalo River terminus of the rail route in the heart of the Historic Erie Canal Harbor  District so workers can hop the train to their jobs in the medical campus located 2,000 feet from the Theater District at the Allen-Hospital Station.

Compared to the rest of the nation we don’t get it.  We want others to think we are this major league city while continuing to refuse development of major league infrastructure.  In the end, I don’t think that attitude will serve us well.

Outdoor Recreation wrongly overlooked as a tourism opportunity for the Niagara Region.

The best way to get started is to set the groundwork, namely what is Outdoor Recreation?  Outdoor Recreation obviously encompasses activities taking place outdoors.  It includes,  dirt bikes, quads, snow mobiles, horseback riding, bicycling, bird watching, camping, nature walks, hiking, caving, mountain climbing, camping, canoeing, fresh and saltwater fishing, surfing, para-sailing, boating, sailing, underwater diving, hunting, jet boating, kayaking, skiing, rock climbing, running, rock climbing, etc.  If you choose you could probably even toss in organized team sporting events because groups do travel to partake in tournaments.

All too often people don’t think of these things as opportunities to capitalize on when developing local tourist infrastructure on the Niagara Frontier.  Tourism is more than just seeing things and having a person tell you what you are looking at or just marvel at the  sight of the Niagara Falls and its river gorge.

There are people who travel to DO.  They want to DO things.  We offer things to do and plenty of people around the nation and on a bigger scale the world don’t know what you can DO here.  There are gorge trails to hike on the Niagara and Genesee Rivers.  There are ski resorts in the Boston and Allegheny foothills and Finger Lakes uplands.  There is spectacular fresh water fishing on Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, Chautauqua Lake, the Niagara, Genesee  Rivers and their tributaries.  If you wish you can row the 400 mile length of the Erie Canal.

Outdoor Recreation is a big jobs and revenue producer.  New York State is one of the nation’s leaders in Outdoor Recreation opportunities for enjoyment and business.  It really would behoove you to give the area a look.

State Direct Jobs Wages & Salaries Consumer Spending
California 732,100 $27,000,000,000 $85,400,000,000
Florida 329,200 $10,700,000,000 $38,300,000,000
New York 304,600 $12,400,000,000 $33,800,000,000
Texas 276,800 $8,900,000,000 $28,700,000,000
Georgia 230,900 $7,000,000,000 $23,300,000,000
Illinois 203,800 $6,700,000,000 $22,000,000,000
South Carolina 201,000 $4,700,000,000 $18,000,000,000
Michigan 193,600 $5,500,000,000 $18,700,000,000
Nevada 147,600 $4,800,000,000 $14,900,000,000
Colorado 124,600 $4,200,000,000 $13,200,000,000

Data Source: Outdoor Industry Association.

Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor releases new promotional video.

Received this as part of an email from Erie Canalway.  It is worth sharing.  Please circulate in support of this national treasure that saw construction begin on July 4,1817 and  its opening for business on October 26, 1825.   The Erie Canal is worth World Heritage status.

Take the Road Less Traveled…
and discover that it makes all the difference! 

Get inspired to explore the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor in 2013! Watch our new video slideshow, and then plan your trip using our online maps and information about things to see and do here!

Watch video >

Plan Your Visit: >

Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, P.O. Box 219, Waterford, New York 12188
(518) 237-7000

The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, established in 2000 by an Act of Congress, spans 524 miles across the full expanse of upstate New York. It includes the Erie, Cayuga-Seneca, Oswego, and Champlain canals and their historic alignments. The Corridor encompasses 4,834 square miles in 23 counties and is home to 2.7 million people.