Lumber Capital

Lumber Capital (HM1GSJ)

Location: Tonawanda, NY 14150 Erie County
Country: United States of America

N 43° 1.269', W 78° 52.674'

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Thanks to the Erie Canal, the Niagara River, a naturally commodious harbor and a growing railroad center, the Tonawandas became a thriving lumber port during the last half of the nineteenth century. Lumber from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Canada was shipped here via the Great Lakes and Niagara River before being transported east along the canal.

The Erie Canal ran through the Village of Tonawanda and then along the river to Buffalo.

I was born in Tonawanda on the banks of "Clinton's Ditch,"

'Midst the smell of mules and horses, white pine lumber, tar and pitch.

I grew up where lumber schooners fought Niagara's mighty wrath,

And the floating logs by thousands jammed the Erie's narrow path.

Where the docks along the river held their lumber piles galore,

Where the roads were strewn with sawdust thick as sand upon the shore.

Where the mark of growing manhood was a rough and calloused hand

From the toil of shovin' lumber in this heart of timberland.

Oh, those days have gone forever, but my heartstrings often tug

When I find that we are drinking from the wells our fathers dug.

I will say they did the best they could with what they had in hand,

And the man who laughs at bygone days had best revise his stand.

If my children's lives are better for the place in which they live,

Then at present they are getting all the best that I can give.

For 'tis here I've made my earthly stand and carved my little niche

In the place called Tonawanda, on the banks of "Clinton's Ditch."

Portion of poem "Reminiscences in Rhyme" by Willard B. Dittmar, Executive Director and Curator, Historical Society of the Tonawandas.

Dockwallopers, protected by leather aprons, such as this one at left, unload lumber at Goose Island, Tonawanda, circa 1895.

Lumber-laden canal boats travel through Tonawanda, circa 1910.

Lumber docks line the river along the Erie Canal near Gibson Street, Tonawanda, in 1894. Grand Island is in the background.

The Docks

During the 1880, six miles of lumber docks ran from Two-Mile Creek in Tonawanda to Gratwick in North Tonawanda. The Tonawandas had become a booming lumber distribution center, second in the world only to Chicago.

In 1890, having received and distributed 718,650,900 board feet of lumber, the port at the Tonawandas surpassed Chicago to become Number One in the world.

Series This marker is part of the Erie Canal series
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Wednesday, September 24th, 2014 at 5:45pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)17T E 672912 N 4765348
Decimal Degrees43.02115000, -78.87790000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 43° 1.269', W 78° 52.674'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds43° 1' 16.14" N, 78° 52' 40.44" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)716
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling West
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 1-3 Main St, Tonawanda NY 14150, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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