Carry Route Around the Falls
Following the Footsteps of the Famous
Along this very road Native Americans, explorers, traders, and soldiers passed for centuries to get around the Niagara Falls and Gorge. Merchants cashed in on trade goods, troops fought for safe passage, and the first railway in North American was built to carry goods up and down the Niagara Escarpment.
The Seneca Nation took control of the portage from the Neutral Nation. The Neutrals were the first long-term settlers by the Niagara River. Before them the Hopewell people and nomads had used the portage.
French explorer LaSalle portaged around the falls and built a ship on the bank of the river near Cayuga Creek. The Griffon, in which he explored the upper Great Lakes.
Chabert Joncaire, a French trader, built a trading post at the lower landing near present day Lewiston. The Senecas were employed to carry goods over the portage.
British forces took control of Fort Niagara and the portage. They built a tramway at the escarpment and used carriages to carry the goods over the road to the upper river. The Senecas were no longer employed.
American companies lead by Augustus and Peter Porter, Benjamin Barton, and Joseph Annin leased and managed the portage after the American Revolution, hotels and taverns were built along the route, and the falls began to attract tourists.
British troops seized the route and burned most of the buildings on the American side of the Niagara River during the War of 1812. Americans regained control after the war. The opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 made the portage route obsolete. The route became Portage Road, the street that you drive and walk on today.
Gateways to the Continents Interior
The Niagara River was the primary route of travel from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie and the interior of the continent. The Niagara Falls and Gorge were the major obstacles around which boats and goods had to be carried.
The same geologic feature responsible for the falls had to be climbed to get to navigable waters upstream. From the top of the 250' high escarpment, the portage road extended south southeast about 7 miles to the river above the falls.