I've already described for you our journey on the northern half of the Parkway yesterday. Saturday we headed out to drive the southern portion, get a view and a swim in our last Great Lake, Lake Erie, and see what sort of interesting things we could find along the way.
It was a beautiful morning, bright sunshine and perfect temperatures. being that showers were called for, our luck was holding out, and we packed another picnic lunch and headed out. We drove back down the circus known as the Clifton Hill area, and got back on the Parkway, for another look at the Falls as we headed south. The drive was lovely, runs right along the river, and there is also a hiking/biking trail, the Niagara River Recreation Trail that follows along as well. There are pull-overs and picnic tables everywhere along the drive, and being Saturday, there were numerous boaters out on the river enjoying the day.
We came to the historic site of Old Fort Erie, and adjacent to it was a big park and picnic area, so we decided to stop here, take a look at the Fort from the outside, and stretch our legs.
As we were walking along side the fort, all of a sudden Al said "Hold on!" I looked around, but before I saw anything, the loudest BOOM I ever heard went off! Poor Chelsea almost jumped out of her fur! They had just shot the cannon off up on the Revelin of the fort
Thank goodness they only did it once. We continued walking around, and at the entrance the guides told us if we wanted to come in, the dogs were allowed with us, just not allowed inside any of the buildings. Cool! So we bought some tickets, and headed into the fort.
Of course, Chelsea and Casey were big hits...just like everywhere else we go!
Fort Erie was first built in 1764 by the British, who had wrested control of the Canadian Territory away from the French, and established forts all along the Niagara River and the Upper Great Lakes. During the American Revolution, the fort was used as a supply base for the British troops, Loyalist Rangers and the Iroquois Warriors. Winter storms continually chipped away at the fort, eventually damaging it enough that they constructed a new fort in 1803, further from the water's edge and built of the Onodaga Flintstone that was available in the area. The fort was almost finished when the United States declared war against Great Britain on June 18, 1812. (The War of 1812). This war was about maritime rights and shipping, and the Niagara area was very important in the war. The fort was the scene of "much mischief" as a local newspaper had put it back then, although I don't see how the killing of soldiers on both sides could ever be called "mischief"...different times I guess! The fort went back and forth between the two sides, with the Americans holding the fort from July 3, 1814 until November 15, 1814. News that the Eastern Seaboard of the United States was under attack, and winter was fast approaching, so after destroying the fort, the Americans withdrew to Buffalo for the last time. The Treaty of Ghent was signed December 24, 1814, ending the war. To this day Fort Erie is the bloodiest battlefield in the history of Canada. In 1937, reconstruction began, and the fort was restored to the 1812-1814 period and officially re-opened July 1, 1939.
The two pictures above are the officer's quarters
Officer's mess hall
Casey enjoying the view from one of the slots for shooting cannons
Soldier's barracks...a bit more crowded than the officer's quarters!
Cannon facing Buffalo, New York
Monument marking the mass grave of 150 British officers and men killed in fighting August 26, 1814, as well as the remains of 3 American defenders also found during the excavation.
There is also a museum with exhibits taking you through the history of the Fort, and several of the men that lived and died there. It was very interesting. We then had our lunch in the picnic area, and continued up the road. We had talked with one of the guides and mentioned we wanted to take the dogs swimming, so he directed us to Waverley Beach, about 5 miles up the road.
Unfortunately, there was a nasty old sign there that said NO DOGS, so we started walking along the Friendship Trail that ran along Lake Erie. We soon found a spot beyond the public beach area where they could take their dip in their final Great Lake, Lake Erie.
Further up the trail, we came to a very interesting area. It looked like the ruins of something.
There were information signs posted telling us about Erie Beach Park, Buffalo's Million Dollar Park. It was somewhat of a pre-curser to Disney World! Built originally as a picnic area in 1887, with ferries from Buffalo set up to bring people over for the day, it grew into a huge amusement park, carnival, hotels and gaming establishments, with both ferries and trains set up to bring people in.
Competition from a nearby park in Crystal Beach, the wars and the Depression, however, combined to bring about the demise of the park, and it sadly fell into ruins, many of the buildings destoyed
Our drive back up the Niagara Parkway yielded another surprise for us. There was an air show going on somewhere on the New York side of the river, and we pulled into a pull-out to watch.
We were pretty far away. but it was neat to watch the pilots fly in such close proximity to each other.
Another walk through Dufferin Islands Recreation Area, and then it was time to head back to the falls area and get some dinner. Sunday was a travel day, going through the border at the Peace Bridge and returning to the United States, into our home state of New York. We are staying at Sned-Acres Family Campground in Ovid New York until Thursday. It seems like a good spot to explore the Watkins Glen and Finger Lake area for a few days. The drive down along Cayuga Lake was very pretty, and we fortunately got set up before the thunderstorms set in. We'll see what adventures we can get into here :-).