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  Interesting Facts & Historical Trivia about Niagara County
  1. What famous County resident invented central steam heat and the fire hydrant only to have the factory burn down?
    Answer Birdsill Holley was an inventor who worked on many of his patents in Lockport. His most famous invention was the Holy Fire Protection System. Holly’s fire hydrants are readily recognizable in nearly every city in the country. A few hours after Holly’s death on April 27, 1894, the village of Gasport was almost completely destroyed by fire. Ironically, Gasport had not invested in the Holly Fire Protection System. Holly’s great invention was central steam heat. Holly Steam Company was formed the first steam lines were laid on seal city streets. By 1881, the company was reorganized under the name American District Steam Company.

  2. What Lewistonian won 2 Super Bowls while playing against his favorite team (Buffalo Bills) and what team was he on?
    Answer Daryl Johnson and the Dallas Cowboys.

  3. What was the largest military engagement fought on Niagara County soil?
    Answer Siege of Fort Niagara/La Belle Familie.

  4. Who was the first person in the county to enlist in the Civil War?
    Answer William W. Bush.

  5. Where was the lumber capital of the world?
    Answer North Tonawanda.

  6. What is the county’s most prominent geological feature?
    Answer The county’s most prominent feature, Niagara Falls, is the result of the Niagara Escarpment. The Niagara Escarpment is the edge of a thick series of dolomite layers from the Silurian age. The rocks are resistant to erosion and stand up in relief as a prominent line of bluffs. It is called a cuesta, where a gently sloping layer of rock forms a ridge. One side of the ridge has a gentle slope, a so-called dip slope that is essentially the surface of the rock layer. The other side is a steep bluff. The Niagara Escarpment owes its prominence to both the resistance of the Silurian dolomite layers and the relative softness of the Ordovician and Devonian rocks on either side. This ridge was formed over 350 million years ago, nearly bisecting the county as it runs east and west from Waterloo, NY through Canada to Wisconsin. This unusual land feature attains its greatest prominence in Lewiston, at almost 200 feet, and tapers down in either direction.

  7. Where is the oldest known marked burial in Niagara County and to whom does it belong?
    Answer Hiram Southwell d. 1807, buried in Harland Central Cemetery where MOH Henry Bickford (Battle of Fort Stedman) is buried.

  8. Where is the oldest cemetery in the county?
    Answer OFN/Lewiston.

  9. What is Lockport’s claim to fame on the Erie Canal?
    Answer The flight of five and the deep cut of Pendleton were the problems overcome. The latter was dig through the top of the ridge/escarpment to Pendleton and thence to the Tonawanda Creek. Nathan Roberts was awarded the contract to construct the locks. At a lift of 12 feet per lock compared to just over 8 feet for all other canal locks, Roberts’ design gave Lockport the biggest lift. To alleviate traffic jams, his design also included a 2nd flight of clock. On July 9, 1823, , using only crude tools and blasting powder, with no professional training, Roberts proceeded to carve a 7 mile gorge through solid rock to Pendleton. Erie Canal was completed on 26 October 1825.

  10. The flags of what countries have flown over Niagara County?
    Answer French, British, American.

  11. Who wrote the Confederate terms of surrender at Appomattox at the end of the Civil War and rose to rake of Major General?
    Answer Ely S. Parker. Lived in Barker area.

  12. Who was Raphael Beck and what did he do?
    Answer Designed the Beck Memorial in Lockport, Buffalo Exposition, and artist.

  13. What Native tribe was here in 1600?
    Answer The Neuters/neutrals who were closely allied with the Erie or cat people and called the Onguiaahra, the name of the river. It is not known what they called themselves but the French called them the Nation du Neutre, because they were neutral between the Huron and the Iroquois. It is said that they always desired to be buried on the banks on or near the Niagara. There were 28j villages. The Iroquois all but destroyed them in 1650-51.

  14. What Niagara County native Medal of Honor winner was considered by General Pershing to be second only to Alvin York in World War I?
    Answer Frank Gaffney.

  15. Where was the first county seat?
    Answer Buffalo (Lewiston) it isn’t until April 2, 1821 by an act of the NYS Legislature that two counties were formed out of the old Niagara County. Board of supervisors met at a school house in the Village of Lewiston on October 1821, which gave Lewiston the temporary honor of County Seat. Erasmus Root, Jesse Hawley, and William Britton were appointed commissioners in 1821 to determine the location of the county buildings in the new, smaller, Niagara County. Shortly thereafter and before action could be taken, Mr. Britton died, and the other two commissioners disagreed. Mr. Root advocated Lewiston or Molyneux’s Corners for the county seat and Mr. Hawley promoted Lockport. The Legislature of 1822 therefore appointed another commission consisting of James McKown, Abraham Keyser, and Julius Hatch. In July of that year, they finally selected Lockport as the county seat. A two acre site for county buildings was purchased from William M. Bond and in January, 1825 the courthouse was completed and court held. It had previously been held in an old hotel, the Mansion House, later called the Exchange Hotel.

  16. Name two of the original three towns that made up Niagara County in 1808.
    Answer Clarence, Willink, Cambria with Willink being a name of a commissioner of the Holland Land Company.

  17. If you wanted to order a juke box in the 1950s, where would you go?
    Answer Wurlitzer factory in North Tonawanda.

  18. Name the bodies of water that form borders of Niagara County.
    Answer Tonawanda Creek, Niagara Strait or River, Lake Ontario – Iroquois “Ontara” -- lake and Ontario means beautiful lake. Named Lake St. Louis in 1632 by Champlain or Lac de St. Lois. It has a 6 year water retention Erie –2, 1/5 worlds fresh surface water drained by the great Lakes, only polar Ice caps and Lake Baikal in Siberia contain more. 95% of US water supply and if spread over continental US it would cover t he country in 9 ½ feet of water.

  19. According to the United States Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zones, (2003) our growing season is more like that found in Lebanon, PA or Mansfield, PA?
    Answer Lebanon PA. The escarpment played a great role in the formation of present-day Niagara County. This affects not only road and village development but also agriculture. The growing season from the escarpment to Lake Ontario is longer than that on top of the escarpment. Close to the shore, the waters of Lake Ontario modify falling temperatures in autumn and check any radical down trends in the spring. This area is classified as a Zone 6 growing area, more typical of what is found in southern Pennsylvania than Northern New York. Called by some residents “the banana belt”, this area rarely gets the lake effect snows found behind the escarpment. The situation on the top and south of the escarpment is different being considered a growing Zone 5, and more subject to colder weather and deeper snowfalls.

  20. What is the oldest building in the county?
    Answer “French Castle" or the Machicolated House, La Maison de .

  21. What is the oldest building in the county?
    Answer “French Castle" or the Machicolated House, La Maison de .

  22. How did 30 Mile Point get its name and what’s there?
    Answer 30 miles from mouth of Niagara River. It marks an offshore shoal and sandbar. A French vessel under Sieur de La Salle was lost on it in 1678. HMS Ontario, carrying British troops, American POWs and the Army payroll of $15.00 was lost on October 31, 1780 and the Mary in 1817. Lighthouse has a 3rd order Fresnel lens and can be seen of 16 miles. It had a kerosene lantern and in 1885 became one of the first lighthouses to use electricity. It was taken over by the USCG in 1935 and a fog signal added. By 1958 the shoal and sandbar had eroded and the Lighthouse taken out of service. In 1984, it was given to NYSParks and restored. The first Light house was on the roof of the French castle and built by the British in1781. It remained until 1796 when it was discontinued by the Americans and the tower dismantled in 1803. A new beacon was put up in 1823 and a wood tower built on a roof. In 1872 the current structure was built. Light was visible of 25 miles. USCG discontinued the light o 13 May 1993.

  23. Writing in “A New Discovery in a Vast Country in America” (1698) the author states: “We spent half a day in considering the wonders of that prodigious cascade.” Who was the author and what was being described?
    Answer This was written by Father Louis Hennepin. He was a Catholic pries and missionary of the Franciscan Recollect order and an explorer of the interior of North America. At the request of Louis XIV, the Recollets sent four missionaries to New France in May 1675, including Hennepin, accompanied by Rene Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle. And in 1678 Hennepin was ordered to accompany La Salle on a voyage to explore the western part of New France. Hennepin would bring attention to Europe to two great waterfalls, Niagara Falls with the most voluminous flow of any in North America, and the Saint Anthony Falls in what is now Minneapolis, the only waterfall on the Mississippi River.
    The first description of Niagara Falls by a trained scientist was by Peter Kalm in 1750 when he came to North America at the urging of Linnaeus’, the famous botanist.

  24. If you were going to Teapot Hollow, where would you be?
    Answer It is the first name for Middleport. It is at the junction of Route 30 and Freeman’s Road.

  25. How are Billy Sherman and Abdullah linked to Niagara County?
    Answer Abdullah was a Trakehner stallion, considered by many to be the best of his breed to compete in jumpers. Born December 7, 1970, Abdullah was purchased by Royalton residents Terry and Sue Williams in 1973. In the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics with rider Conrad Homfeld, Abdullah won a gold medal in Team Show Jumping and a silver medal in Individual Show Jumping. In addition, he was the 1979-1986 and 1988-1989 ATA HOY Open Jumper Champion. He won First Place in the World Cup Final in Berlin in 1985, and won a team gold medal at the 1986 World Championships in Aachen, Germany. Abdullah died January 5, 2000 from colic but his progeny live on with 400 horses, seven of which were US Equestrian Federation Horses of the Year. Abdullah lived on the Williamsburg Farm on Chestnut Ridge Road for many years (Royalton). Lloyds TSB (Bank and Trustee Savings Bank) use the Trakehner stallion in their logo.

  26. Who had the most beautiful tresses in Niagara County?
    Answer The 7 Sutherland Sisters.

  27. What Niagara County village was originally called Kempvillle?
    Answer Named after Burgoyne Kemp this village was located on the shores of Lake Ontario. It was a popular summer resort with people traveling from Buffalo and Lockport to spend time at this resort by the lake. In 1877, the name was changed to Olcott in honor of Thaddeus Olcott who was successful in securing two cement piers that jutted into the Lake. This helped apple farmers get their produce to market faster and with less expense.

  28. Pneumothorax was a treatment used in what state of the art medical facility in Niagara County?
    Answer Tuberculosis Sanitarium/Mt. View. Until the 1800s, no treatment for tuberculosis existed and was at one time the leading cause of death in the United States. Families and their doctors could only watch a patient’s downward path to death, helplessly, and other family members and friends frequently became infected themselves and followed the same path to the grave. In the 1800s patients were instructed to stay in an airtight room, wrapped in a feather blanket, near a hot stove. Throughout the 1880s and 1890s the medical profession stressed the infectious nature of tuberculosis. The war against tuberculosis really had its beginning late in the nineteenth century were patients were sent to sanatoria for rest, fresh air, sun, good nutrition and isolation to prevent the spread of infection food.

    By 1910 several community organizations petitioned the Board of Supervisors of Niagara County for a Tuberculosis Sanitarium. By June 1916, $100, 00 was appropriated to build a hospital and a site was selected on Upper Mountain Road in the Town of Lockport. On December 11, 1917, plans were approved for the hospital and for renovation of the old Almshouse building for use as a temporary hospital. At this time the name changed from Niagara County Tuberculosis Hospital to Niagara Sanatorium. The following year Dr. W.E. Deuel was appointed the first Superintendent. In 1920 the hospital started using X-rays and the Red Cross furnished and equipped the basement of the pavilion with recreation rooms for ex-soldiers and other patients. Some of this included card tables, books, magazines, and a wireless outfit including a wireless telephone. Two years later a nurse’s residence opened and an Occupational Therapy department was started in 1923. Dr. Arthur N. Aitkens introduced the use of Pneumothorax as an addition treatment of TB. Pneumothorax is a treatment where the lung is collapsed, giving the lung a chance to heal. Later it may be allowed to inflate again and breathe as before.

    In the following years the Niagara Sanatorium added a Children’s Building and additions to the nurses’ residence. A Skilled Nursing Facility, Guillemont Building was dedicated in 1939 and expanded in 1947. After 1943, when Albert Schatz discovered Streptomycin, the first true cure for tuberculosis, sanatoriums began to close. As a result, in 1957 the Niagara Sanatorium re-invented itself and was renamed the Mount View Hospital wit its mission expanded from the care of tuberculosis patients to a multi-care facility.

  29. Can you give me proof that Gordon Lightfoot was in Niagara County other than for a concert?
    Answer In “If You Could Read My Mind”, the fist verse reads: If you could read my mind love/What a tale my thoughts could tell/Just like an old time movie/“Bout a ghost from a wishin’ well/In a castle dark or a fortress strong/With chains upon my feet/You know that ghost is me/And I will never be set free/As long as I’m a ghost that you can’t see.

Try these questions and more!
  1. Where was the Hodge Opera House located?
    Answer Photos

  2. What year did the schooner the Lucinda Van Valkenburg meet her watery demise?
    Answer History

  3. When is the Niagara Wine Trail's Bicentennial Event?
    Answer Events

  4. North Tonawanda, known as the “Lumber City,” held the record in the country for lumber production at the end of what century?
    Answer History

  5. The Seven Sutherland Sisters were world-famous for their incredible what, which reportedly had a collective length of 37 feet.
    Answer History

  6. What year did the the Great Gorge Route ?
    Answer History

  7. What will be the size of the finish quilt being sewn by the Kenan Quilters Guild?
    Answer Photos

  8. Who won the Bicentennial logo contest?
    Answer Photos

  9. Scott Hagan, an artist from Ohio, is an expert in this area and has been contracted to do this work in each of the county's 12 townships. What is he doing?
    Answer Barn Painting
For More Information

Douglas Farley, Director
Erie Canal Discover Center
24 Church St.
Lockport NY 14094

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