Tag Archives: Niagara County

New Leadership for Great Lakes Seaway Trail

Seaway Trail, Inc. has named Michael “Mike” Bristol as its new President and CEO. The Great Lakes Seaway Trail is a 518-mile, two-state National Scenic Byway, a New York State Scenic Byway, and a state-designated Bicycle Route in New York and Pennsylvania. Bristol becomes only the second President and CEO in the Great Lakes Seaway Trail’s 34-year history.

The Seaway Trail scenic driving route was designated in 1978. The Seaway Trail, Inc. nonprofit organization formed in 1986 with Teresa Mitchell as its first director. Mitchell passed away in January and Charles “Chuck” Krupke served as Interim Executive Director.

Mike Bristol began his new leadership role July 2, 2012. He brings nearly 30 years’ experience in tourism, athletics and nonprofit management to the tourism and economic development organization based in Sackets Harbor, NY.

A Florida State University graduate, Bristol was the Associate Director of his alma mater’s Seminole Boosters, Inc., a national-level fundraising corporation. He served as President and CEO of the Tallahassee Area Convention and Visitors Bureau from 2002 to 2005.

Upon returning to his native northern New York, Bristol served as Director of Marketing and Outreach for The Antique Boat Museum on the Great Lakes Seaway Trail in Clayton, NY. Bristol is a member of the Clayton Local Development Corporation Redevelopment Committee that is overseeing a new dock and hotel development.

The Great Lakes Seaway Trail organization is known for diverse travel theme marketing, a “Best of the Byways” guidebooks series, Great Lakes Seaway Trail “Outdoor Storyteller” signage, and innovative programming that includes a American Volkssport Association-approved series of War of 1812-theme walks.

Popular travel themes include scenic driving road trips, maritime and military history, four seasons’ outdoor recreation, birdwatching, lighthouses and shipwrecks, bicycling, quilting and cultural heritage.

To learn more about the Great Lakes Seaway Trail byway that runs alongside the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario, Niagara River and Lake Erie in New York and Pennsylvania, go online to www.seawaytrail.com.

Photo provided.

K-12 Teachers Invited to Summer Residential Program

Niagara University is now accepting applications from K-12 teachers nationwide for a summer program entitled Crossroads of Empire: Cultural Contact and Imperial Rivalry at Old Fort Niagara. The week-long residential sessions, which take place July 11-15 and July 18-22, 2011 at Old Fort Niagara and Niagara University, have been made possible by funding obtained from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

Directed by Thomas A. Chambers, Ph.D., chair of Niagara University’s history department, the workshops are focused on the vital history that emanated from Old Fort Niagara, one of most significant and well-preserved 18th century historic sites in North America. Fort Niagara served as an important crossroads between the empires of Great Britain, France, the Haudenosaunee (the native people who inhabited what is now much of New York state and surrounding areas), and, later, the United States as they battled each other for control of the North American continent. The Fort threatened American territory during the Revolution, was occupied by both sides during the War of 1812, and then a peace treaty secured the Fort and region for the United States.

This workshop will immerse NEH Summer Scholars in the world of 18th century life, from both the Native American and European perspective. Participants will interact with historic interpreters, clamber about ramparts dating to the 1700s, handle beaver pelts and trade goods like fishhooks and beads, and perhaps even fire a musket. One unique feature will be an overnight stay at the French Castle, the three-story stone fortress and trading post perched above the crashing waves of Lake Ontario that dates back to 1726. By week’s end NEH Summer Scholars will understand the perspective of the Iroquois people who first inhabited this region, as well as the struggles of ordinary European soldiers who bled and died to control Fort Niagara.

Teachers of grades K-12 at schools in the United States or its territorial possessions, or Americans teaching in foreign schools where at least 50 percent of the students are American nationals, are eligible for this program.

Teachers selected to participate as NEH Summer Scholars will receive a stipend of $1,200 at the end of the residential workshop session. Stipends are intended to help cover travel expenses to and from the project location, books, and ordinary living expenses.

The deadline for applications is March 1, 2011.

For eligibility and application information, call 716.286.8091, e-mail crossroads@niagara.edu or visit neh.niagara.edu.

Niagara University is located 11 miles south of Old Fort Niagara.

Niagara Falls State Park Celebrates 125 Years

The nation’s oldest state park, Niagara Falls State Park, celebrated its 125th Anniversary this week with a concert by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra on Goat Island and the dedication of a restored pocket park.

On July 15, 1885 then Governor David Hill dedicated the land and created Niagara Falls State Park. Created to protect its natural beauty from the continued industrialization of the river and to allow public access to its scenery, Niagara Falls became a blueprint for public parks across the country-both state and national parks. Eight million people now visit Niagara Falls each year, making it the most popular park in the New York State Park system.

Ancestors of Thomas V. Welch, the first superintendent of Niagara Falls State Park and a member of the Free Niagara Movement, were on hand to dedicate Heritage Park which is the site of a renovated pocket park just outside of Niagara Falls State Park. The park which serves as a connection for visitors between the city and the park is now the home of several plaques and markers from historical events and figures of Niagara Falls State Park. New pavers were also installed and landscaping was done by volunteers from the community.

Anniversary events continue through the reminder of the year including the “History Comes Alive” program where historical figures including Annie Edson Taylor, Frederick Law Olmsted, Nikola Tesla, Father Louis Hennepin and others who spent time at Niagara Falls State Park share their stories of the park with visitors. See www.niagarafallsstatepark.com for a full listing of events.

French and Indian War Reenactment at Old Fort Niagara

On July 3-5, more than 2,300 historic reenactors will bring the 250th anniversary of the French and Indian War to life at Old Fort Niagara in Youngstown, NY. Hosts of authentically-costumed 18th century British and French soldiers and American Indian warriors will recreate historic encampments and the “Siege of Fort Niagara” of July 1759. The activities include land battles and drills, ships, historically authentic games for the children, and an artillery bombardment with fireworks.

The collection of Old Fort Niagara’s military architecture includes the oldest building in the Great Lakes region – the “French Castle.” The fort is a New York State and National Historic Landmark site that overlooks Lake Ontario, which played a strategic role in the French and Indian War and the War of 1812.

The best way to reach the big event that is the 2009 “Signature Event” of the New York State 250th French and Indian War Anniversary Commemoration Commission is to follow one of America’s Byways, the 518-mile Great Lakes Seaway Trail that parallels New York and Pennsylvania’s freshwater shorelines.

The swift waterways and footpaths of power along the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario, Niagara River and Lake Erie in New York and Pennsylvania helped decide the outcome of the French & Indian War. A journey along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail offers an authentic American experience of the landscapes of history, well-kept military architecture, battlefields and waterfront staging areas. This byway is also home to two Indian Nations that maintain their distinct cultural traditions.

Battle reenactments, military and suttler encampments, and special events take place year-round at Great Lakes Seaway Trail historic destinations including Old Fort Niagara- Fort Ontario (Oswego, NY)- the Sackets Harbor Battlefield- and the site of Fort LaPresentation (Ogdensburg, NY). Library and museum archives help visitors trace their genealogical roots grounded in the byway’s historic landscape. Military and maritime history and architecture (the byway also includes a cluster of Frank Lloyd Wright designed properties) are popular travel themes for the Great Lakes Seaway Trail byway. Learn more about the byway at www.seawaytrail.com or call 315-646-1000.

2009 Great Lakes Seaway Trail Experience Series

A presentation by acclaimed French & Indian War reenactor Major George A. Bray III will present “Struggle for an Empire, The French and Indian War along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail, 1755-1760” at 6 pm at the Sackets Harbor Battlefield this Thursday, May 21, 2009. Bray will relate tales of the 250-year-old conflict to open the 2009 Great Lakes Seaway Trail Experience Series. Bray will appear in period costume, portraying an officer of Rogers’ Rangers, an elite rapid response light infantry unit known for its bold military tactics. Rogers’ Rangers became the chief scouting unit of the British Crown forces during the war fought from 1754 to 1760.

In addition to being a respected French & Indian War historian, Bray is a Fellow of the Company of Military Historians, and an author writing for such publications as Early America Review. He has written about various aspects of the war from the use of poisoned bullets by the French to scalping. Bray’s historic collection includes original newspapers, documents, books, prints and weaponry.

As event commander at historic Fort Niagara in Youngstown, NY, Bray will welcome hundreds of reenactors for the July 3-5 New York State Signature Event for the 250th French & Indian War Anniversary Commemoration. Bray says, “My mission is to portray 18th century military life for the education of visitors to historic sites and to perpetuate the significant history of the French and Indian War and Rogers’ Rangers.”

Bray serves with Seaway Trail Foundation President Teresa Mitchell on the New York State French and Indian War 250th Anniversary Commemorative Commission. The $5 admission for May 21st presentation will benefit the nonprofit Seaway Trail Foundation that promotes learning experience tourism along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail, one of America’s Byways noted for authentic American experiences. Learn more at www.seawaytrail.com or call 315-646-1000.

Contact Period Workshops For K-12 Teachers

A National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant awarded to Dr. Thomas Chambers, history professor at Niagara University, will support a pair of week-long workshops to be held this summer for K-12 school teachers. The workshops, set to take place July 13 through July 17, 2009 and July 20 through July 24, 2009 at Old Fort Niagara in Niagara Falls, NY, will focus on American history and culture, specifically the history of European-Native American interaction. Classroom teachers and librarians in public, private, parochial, and charter schools, as well as home-schooling parents are eligible to participate.

The program was created by the NEH to encourage better understanding of American history and culture. Stipends cover most expenses for participants, see: http://neh.gov/projects/landmarks-school.html for eligibility requirements.

For more information visit www.niagara.edu/crossroads/

HMS Ontario: 1780 Intact British Warship Found

Big news last week with the discovery of the “practically intact” HMS Ontario in nearly 500 feet waters of Lake Ontario. The Revolution War era 80-foot British sloop of war went down during gale in 1780 with a compliment of Canadian crew, British Soldiers, and possibly American POWs.

It’s considered one of the earliest discovered shipwrecks in America. New York is also home to the a 1758 Land Tortoise fully intact in Lake George’s south basin.

The Associated Press carried the story of the HMS Ontario – “the oldest shipwreck and the only fully intact British warship ever found in the Great Lakes.”

The finders of the wreck said they regard it as a war grave and have no plans to raise it or remove any of its artifacts. They said the ship is still considered the property of the British Admiralty.

The sloop was discovered resting partially on its side, with two masts extending more than 70 feet above the lake bottom…-

The Ontario went down on Oct. 31, 1780, with a garrison of 60 British soldiers, a crew of about 40, mostly Canadians, and possibly about 30 American war prisoners.

The warship had been launched only five months earlier and was used to ferry troops and supplies along upstate New York’s frontier. Although it was the biggest British ship on the Great Lakes at the time, it never saw battle, Smith said.

After the ship disappeared, the British conducted a sweeping search but tried to keep the sinking secret from Gen. George Washington’s troops because of the blow to the British defenses.

Hatchway gratings, the binnacle, compasses and several hats and blankets drifted ashore the next day. A few days later the ship’s sails were found adrift in the lake. In 1781, six bodies from the Ontario were found near Wilson, N.Y. For the next two centuries, there were no other traces of the ship.