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ponds. It is heavily timbered, where dry. It contains 17,924 acres, according to the survey of the Boundary Commission.
Grand Island occupies nearly all the interval between the banks of the river, the channels on either side being small, and varying but little. That on the east is only 513 yards broad, three-quarters of a mile above Tonnewanta Island; and 660 yards in the breadth of the west channel, three-quarters of a mile below Beaver Island. These are the narrowest places.
I have now to notice in succession,-Beaver Island, on the west side, and three-quarters of a mile from the head of Grand Island-it is oblong, and rather less than half a mile in length; it is 350 yards from Grand Island: the stripe of marsh, 2000 yards long, called Rattlesnake Island, close to the east shore, near the head of Grand Island: Tonnewanta Island, east of, and opposite the middle of Grand Island-it is close to the main, and is rather more than half a mile long. The next is Cayuga, near to the American bank, and to the lower end of Grand Island; it is oval, narrow, and 2060 yards long. Buckhorn Island follows; it is on the east of, and very near Grand Island. It is marshy; 2000 yards long, 400 yards broad at the head, and tapering to a point below. Navy Island is 600 It is semicircular; 2000 yards from the Canadian shore. yards long, and half a mile in greatest breadth : it contains 304 acres. Except a few small ones close to the Canadian shore, it is the only island in this river adjudged by the Commission to Great Britain. Grass Islands, and a few patches of marsh, need not be mentioned here. In a round islet, on the Canadian side of the river, somewhat more than a mile below Chippewa, is a much indented, woody islet, a quarter of a mile in diameter. There is a flat, gravelly islet, surrounded by shallows, 440 yards above the centre of the Horse-shoe Fall; and 300 yards above the Table Rock, on the west side, is a curved, low island of pines, 375 yards long, close in shore. Goat, or Iris Island, is triangular in shape; its base of 400 yards in length, being on the same line with the Cataract. It is half a mile long; and is flat, fertile, and covered with fine clumps of trees: its soil is fine light brown clay, beneath gravel of rolled limestones, and primitive pebbles. About its middle, between it and the American main, there is a round islet, which
serves as a point of support for two bridges, connecting Iris Island with the main. On the same side of the river, nearer the Falls, there are seven other islets, growing pines; and near the top, and on the west side, are two others.
No streams of consequence enter the Niagara below the Falls; those above are few, and are sluggish creeks, the discharges of extensive swamps. Of these, the principal are, French, Black, Chippewa, and Tonnewanta Creeks. I shall only notice the two last. Chippewa Creek (or the Welland) pours a dark, discoloured water into the Niagara, nineteen miles from Lake Erie. It rises near the head of Lake Ontario, and passes through a plain, forty or fifty miles long, containing a number of morasses. In this distance, its trifling current varies in its direction with the state of the Niagara. If the winds have caused an elevation in the waters of Lake Erie, (and of the Niagara, by consequence,) the current ascends the Chippewa, and vice versâ.
The Tonnewanta is much the greatest stream on the American shore. It rises on the south side of Genesee county, in the state of New York, and is sixty-five miles long, extensive marshes skirting the lower twenty miles. It enters the Niagara near the middle of Grand Island, together with Ellicott's Creek, which comes from the country south of the lower end of Lake Erie.
At Chippewa, we enter from the south the portion of the river more particularly appertaining to the Falls-distant from them two miles and a quarter. A change here commences in the features of the stream. Its ample breadth is set sensibly diminished. On the British shore, a ripple in the accelerated current is perceived; and at Bridgewater, one mile lower down, it dashes and foams over a succession of ledges, which are most conspicuous opposite the head of Iris Island. Below this, the water moves with equal swiftness, but smoothly, over pebbly shallows, until it precipitates itself into the great chasm of the Cataract. On the American shore, the rapids begin at a point nearly corresponding with those on the Canadian side. They are very strong at the head of Iris Island; and from thence to the brink of the Falls, leap from ledge to ledge with great fury.
Together with these changes in the condition of the river, the banks, from Chippewa to Bridgewater, very gradually attain the height of forty feet, in inclined scarps of loam, poorly clad with herbage. This apparent rise is caused by the sinking of the bed of the river, to the amount of fifty-eight feet, from Chippewa to the Falls*; but from hence, for the remaining mile and a quarter, a real elevation of the banks and adjacent country takes place. The united effect of these two circumstances is the formation, on the Canadian shore, of lofty steeps, overlooking the Cataract: they are from 120 to 150 feet high; and skirt the river, from Colonel Clarke's, at Bridgewater, in a line of grassy knolls, with here and there an earthy hollow, and highly ornamented with fine trees, among which are some well-grown tulip-trees. Near their commencement, they are separated from the water by a low meadow, a few hundred yards broad; but at the head of the narrow island, in shore, and near the Falls, they rejoin it for a short distance; and finally are lost in the increased elevation of the neighbouring land at the edge of the chasm, a mile below. The American banks have no steeps; but ascend along the river side in a richly-wooded swell.
In this interesting locality, 300 yards below the islet just adverted to, and at the foot of what we must consider as the remains of Iris Island, the Niagara plunges at once into a rocky chasm, 156 feet deep, 960 yards broad at this place, and prolonged east-north-east, almost at right angles with the former course of the river, for seven miles. This descent takes place obliquely to the direction of the river, and is divided into three distinct falls by Iris Island, and the islet on its right. These are named the "Horse-shoe Fall," "Ribbon, or Montmorenci," and the "American, or Schlosser" Falls, respectively. The whole line of subsidence is 1200 yards long; but the chord of this, joining its extremities, is 960 yards long. The Horse-shoe Fall occupies about one half of the brink, and the base of Iris Island, and the American Fall, each about a quarter. The Ribbon Fall, and an islet adjoining, take up each ten yards of the same line.
*Philadelphia Museum, vol. viii. p. 215.
The Horse-shoe Fall is contained by the Canadian shore and Iris Island. Its name is no longer applicable to its form, a correct idea of which, indeed, is only to be acquired with much trouble, from the perspective deceptions arising from the distance of some of its parts. I refer to the sketch for the supposed accurate shape, as laid down in the charts of the Boundary Commission.
A naked, flat ledge, called the Table Rock, at the brink of this Fall, and at its northern end, permits the visiter to dip his feet securely in the water, just as it passes over the precipice. It has been determined, by the officers of the above Commission to be 1563 feet above the surface of the water below. At this Fall, the waters, already in the swiftest motion, are projected in an unbroken curtain*, of an emerald colour in the centre, and white or brown at the sides. They rebound mid-height in large revolving spheres of foam; a small rain spreads around for some hundred yards, and, with the high ascending wreaths of mist, is the seat, in certain circumstances, of brilliant rainbows. The stream beneath the pitch is smooth, but white with internal motion: a little way down, it forms into billows, and maintains great velocity through the whole chasm to Queenston.
At the foot of this Fall, a hundred yards or more from its north end, I am pretty confident that there are very large fragments of rock, which shew themselves a little above water, when the gusts of a tempestuous day have driven away the mist and broken water which at other times conceal them.
The Montmorenci or Ribbon Fall is aptly named. It springs from its dark channel with force, and contrasts very strikingly, by its slender dimensions, with the vast bodies of water around it.
The American Fall is 162+ feet high. Its line of descent,
The continuation of Table Rock, over which the water passes, juts out beyond the inferior strata, while the curtain of waters also advances beyond the perpendicular line; a space of from fifteen to twenty feet is therefore left between the two, which is largest at the entrance, and is blocked up twenty or thirty feet within by a buttress of rock. The floor of this interval is a slope of slimy fragments of limestone, among which eels are often seen gliding. Violent gusts of wind, torrents of small rain, the slippery footing, and the astounding roar of the cataract, render it a very untenable position.
Phil. Mus., ut antea,
although on the whole pretty straight, is in several places slightly serrated. Although the greater part of the water passes down in a continuous stream, yet it frequently dashes upon successive narrow ledges, and then, arching gracefully, drops in broken snowy masses.
Stairs have been constructed a little below the Falls on both sides of the river, to facilitate the descent of visiters down the sides of the chasm.
On the British bank, some distance below the Table Rock, a full and almost equidistant view of all the divisions of the cataract is afforded.
Near this spot, at the foot of the contiguous stairs, the scene has peculiar force. Every other object is here shut out. In front, the eye is filled with the expanded curtain of falling waters, the blanched purity of whose colour is rendered more marked by the gloom of the surrounding walls of dark limestone, crested with hemlock, pines, and elms. Colossal fragments in magnificent confusion mount half-way up the precipices, and even obstruct the stream, rolling impetuously.
A slippery path over these fragments on the north side leads to the foot of the Horse-shoe Fall, whose depth of curvature and very great length is there more fully developed.
We now proceed to bestow a few words on the lower division of this river.
The chasm is six miles and three-quarters long, and for two miles from the Falls runs east-north-east, when it turns to the north-west; a mile farther, to the whirlpool. It there changes suddenly to the north-east, and so continues, or with slight variation, for two miles, to a little beyond the Devil's Hole, on the American side; from thence a northern course is slowly assumed, and, with a few jutting elbows, is continued to Lake Ontario. The whirlpool above alluded to is a circular basin, 500 yards in diameter, on the left side of the river, created by the sudden change in the direction of the river. Its violence has been exaggerated. The water rushes into it in billows from the pent channel above, and then, with eddies here and there, courses round the Canadian side of the basin in a swift smooth current, and so flows off.
The side of the chasm may be described in general terms to