Being born and raised on the Niagara Frontier, I grew up on the Upper Niagara River and spent my formative years as a ‘river rat’, not in awe, but in fear of the mighty Cataract, viewing it as a threat to my Upper river escapades. More than once, myself and my fellow rats barely escaped the swift current while tubing down the river or fishing off of Navy Island in a rubber raft above the great Falls. Niagara Falls was not something we marveled at or held in great esteem but was a nightmare, regarded with great fear which was to be avoided at all costs. We loved the ‘upper Niagara’ and the Falls was the termination of that river for us.
That perspective changed the first time I went down into the gorge below the Falls (during summer of course – I wasn’t as crazy my ‘boys’ were to go in winter) and “discovered” the lower river. There, like Saul on the road to Damascus, I was overcome by the wonder of the river and consumed by the mystery of it. I learned that there were actually two rivers, the “Upper Niagara” and the “Lower Niagara” which were as different from one another as night is from day. One was an open spigot, empting out all the ‘Great Lakes’ in a roar and ravaging thunder – the other was a life-force, cutting and craving across the earth, leaving a trail of history and raw beauty mingled with pure attitude.
Born in Cheektowago and raised in the Riverside/Blackrock section of Buffalo, it was only after returning from a tour of duty in Southeast Asia that I located to Niagara Falls and Lewiston and discovered the Lower Niagara River and Gorge.
Living there for over forty years, my understanding of Niagara’ was rounded out to encompass the entire river from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario by touring, exploring and inhaling the joy of the ‘Lower’ river.
Much has been written about Niagara over the years, most centered on the mighty ‘Falls’ itself of course. Little has been written about the Lower River or the gorge cut through the Niagara Escarpment. This is truly amazing, when one considers the extensive and exciting history that engulfs this exotic and breathtaking region.
Focused on making a living for my family, I wrote only for myself over the years. This story, now I give to you. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have in writing it.
Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org