The idea of “holy” cows is not strictly confined to India. Just a few years ago, Lockport had to contend with a homeowner that felt it was perfectly all right to allow a few errant cows to roam the streets. As seldom as this happens today, it seemed to be a common occurrence around Niagara County in 1883. It may come as a surprise to some that a world-class destination like Niagara Falls, visited annually by millions of tourists, had to address the issue of livestock roaming “free-range” in the streets.
The scene is described in the Niagara Falls Gazette in October of 1883. “As the season of winter nears, some citizens have returned to the old fashioned (custom) of turning their cattle, and particularly horses, out into the public streets to find a living. This is altogether too common a practice and should be stopped at all hazards. Cattle unwatched, or more correctly untethered, should not be allowed to roam about the streets of the village, where so many children play on the streets so much of the time. There is a great danger that some of them may be seriously injured by these cattle. Horses when scared, frequently gallop down the street over crosswalks and often on the sidewalks, frightening ladies and children. If property owners, when they find loose animals thus trespassing on their land, would adopt legal remedy, the owners would soon find it cheaper to take care of their own horses and cows, than to pay costs. It is surely better to take every precaution against the death or injury of one human being, than to run any risks, in order that somebody’s cattle may be fed without cost to the owner. “
Douglas Farley, Director
Erie Canal Discover Center
24 Church St.
Lockport NY 14094