Construction of the Maid of the Mist boat landing at the site of the old Schoelkopf Power Plant in the City of Niagara Falls is set to continue. New York State Supreme Court Justice Catherine Nugent Panepinto has agreed to permit construction by the Maid of the Mist Company. I’m sure the issue will continue on in the courts and I am hopeful that the Maid of the Mist Falls cruise boats have found a home. There is plenty of room in the gorge and enough tourists for more than one business to handle.
In 2009, I had the opportunity, along with Kelly Kukucka and Karl Barna, to hike into that portion of the gorge on a now rarely used and rigorous hiking trail leading to the Schoelkopf Power Plant ruins. We were led by a state parks’ naturalist because we had been directing work crews renovating hiking trails at Whirlpool, Devil’s Hole and Artpark State Parks. I am certain none of the Maid of the Mist opponents and new preservationist group have ever visited the site. I am equally certain they had not previously been interested in the area until now and all the talk of millions of dollars..
There are 1930s era WPA constructed hiking trails to Schoelkopf which are covered by a number of very large boulder rock slides. The base of the plant is covered in rubble. It is currently inaccessible to the every day tourist. The power plant itself collapsed in 1956 when when the whole gorge wall gave way. I feel a clean up of the area will commence. Click the link to read about the Schoelkopf disaster. It is rather interesting. http://www.niagarafrontier.com/schoellkopf.html
This project will do more to generate public and tourist awareness for this location than there has been over the past 57 years. Once the project is completed and people get down there for the boats, they will be will be fascinated by the beauty and the views. They will begin advocating for more and better access. It will lead to restoration of well prepared trails. Rebuilt trails could potentially make it possible to hike and/or fish the gorge all the way from the base of the American Falls Observation Tower down to Whirlpool St. Park and the Robert Moses Power Plant in Lewiston some 7 miles distant. The gorge has the potential to be a great addition to the Niagara Falls experience. It is quite beautiful and dramatic looking at the Falls from above, from below at the Cave of the Winds, from the Maid of the Mist, and hiking the gorge. The whole tourist experience will benefit and local history will be learned in the process.