Niagara Falls, 4 October 1893

The sleep was again severely interrupted by the heavy blows during the switchovers. In the morning we could again note the loss of multiple wine bottles and the injury of one of our serving Negroes who had been thrown against the wagon wall by the impact.

We had barely left Chicago on the Michigan Central Railroad towards our next destination, the Niagara Falls,  when we entered the territory of the states of Indiana and later that of Michigan. Near Detroit we crossed in the railway train the Detroit river on a large traject ship. The Detroit River connects Lake Huron and the smaller  Lake St. Clair with Lake Erie. And we finally reached at Windsor the territory of the Canadian province of Ontario.

The day was beautiful and the area quite charming as forests and forest lots alternated with farms, fruit gardens and fields. The trees were already bearing their autumn dress that was much more intensively colored than in our hemisphere and showed itself in the numerous oak and maple trees in a remarkably beautiful red varying from a light vermilion to a dark crimson and effectively contrasted by thee yellow and brown of the poplars and chestnuts. The fruit tress, among them a scarlet Ailanthus, were bearing fruits.

Despite these pretty images of which we could never see enough, I regretted not to spend the 4th October as usual high up in the Carinthian mountains in order to breathe clear air in my small hunting lodge and to enjoy pure nature, surrounded by the calling deer and hunting boys and bloodhounds and let the eye glance upon the incomparable landscape of our Alps. Man is thus devoted to his habits and misses what he cherishes.

The sudden stop of the train tore me out of my thoughts and everything shouted: „the Niagara, the Niagara“. The railway administration had arranged a stop of a few minutes to allow the travelers a view upon the fall that disappointed and disillusioned me in the first moment. Since my earliest childhood I had imagined this natural wonder that stood in stark contrast to its reality. The river falls in a completely flat area out of which rise cities, hotels and smoking factory stacks from a rocky ledge that is quite similar to a giant dam. Nevertheless I can not deny that this mightiest waterfall of the world has a quite great character that however loses much in my eyes by the absence of a scenic landscape. The dignified frame is missing in this picture.

The Niagara River is the outflow of the Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron and Erie and descending on its 58 km length by 100 m it develops a torrential velocity. At the edge of the fall the river bed is split by Goat Island and thus two falls are formed, namely the 322 m wide American and the 915 m wide crooked Horse Shoe or Canadian fall. The border between the United States and Canada passes straight through the middle of the Horse Shoe fall. Both falls together send 425.000 m³ water per minute downriver. Below the falls the river narrows and forms roaring rapids that one can watch from the high Cantilever Bridge of the Michigan Central Railroad, a freely suspended bridge that crosses the Niagara without any supporting pillars. About 90 m further downstream the Railway Suspension Bridge hangs suspended, a chain bridge that also carries below the railway tracks another bridge for the road traffic.

The train stops after having passed over the cantilevered bridge into American territory outside of the city of Niagara Falls that owes its existence to the foreign tourists and not to the few industrial establishments. Every year more than 400.000 visitors are coming here.

Soon we reached Queen Victoria Niagara Falls Park on the Canadian shore that, well tended with lush green lawns and ornamented with mighty trees, follows alongside the river for about 4 km and offers everywhere splendid views on the falls. Table Rock is the point from which the Horse Shoe Fall makes the most dramatic impression. With a deafening noise the water masses crash down while the fine water mist in which the sun weaves gorgeous rainbows is twirled up highly.

In a nearby house one receives a rubber dress that only leaves the face uncovered. Then one drives with an elevator down to the foot of the fall, passes first through a cave and then walks on a narrow runway between the rocks and the thundering water masses. It was a strange I might say constricting feeling to be in the midst of the roaring water and the rock wall. Our voices could not overcome the enormous noise. From time to time we received a douche coming down from a considerable height. The rocks here consist of sandstone and a very crumbly slate that was continuously shedding larger pieces so that the sense of security was much weakened while walking. On steps and ladders and frequent glitches on the slippery rocks we go down another 30 m,  and came again in front of the fall and could again enjoy the greatness of the spectacle greeted by another extended water baptism. Very effectively the rays of the setting sun produced a magic reddish illumination of the fall.

My name day was celebrated during dinner in the wagon and we then wanted to enjoy a pleasurable evening in the much praised Niagara Falls Music Hall. But the art on display was quite mediocre and the audience too of the lowest sort.

Links

  • Location: Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
  • ANNO – on 04.10.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing the comedy „Landfrieden“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing „A Santa Lucia“ and other pieces.

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