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Marcy; the Mississippi has a greater volume than the Hudson; the Grand Canyon is deeper than Au Sable; "Old Faithful" goes higher than any spring at Saratoga—but when we take into consideration the great dirersity of scenery presented by our ocean shore, our islands great and small, our Hudson and St. Lawrence, our Palisades, our Catskills and Adirondacks, our Lakes Champlain, George and Finger lakes, our Au Sable and Watkins chasms, and our numerous waterfalls of which Niagara is the chief, it may safely be reiterated that no State of the Union presents within an equal area such a combination of various natural
The Legislature, in its wisdom, has already reserved several of these for public edification. Chief among them are the Niagara Reservation, 412 acres; the Adirondack Park (viewing it now in the light of its picturesqueness), 1,163,414 acres; the
Catskill Park, 82,330 acres; the Palisades Interstate Park, 101
acres in this State; Stony Point Battlefield, 33 acres; and Lake George Battlefield, 34 acres.
It will be twenty years on April 30, 1905, since the bill for the
actual acquisition of the remarkable property at Niagara became
a law, and twenty-two years since the preliminary act authorizing
the appointment of the Commission to select the lands. During that period, this Commission, animated by a deep sense of its public responsibility, has administered the Reservation as economically as possible and with a careful regard for the object for
which the Reservation was created. The environment of the Falls
has been rescued from the lamentable conditions into which it
had fallen under private ownership; the scenery has been restored to its natural condition as nearly as practicable; and the Reservation thrown open to the world free of charge.
Public sentiment has heartily approved of the legislative acts for the creation of the Reservation and for its maintenance thus far, and, we believe, will fully sustain your honorable body in making the somewhat larger provision which the development of the Reservation during the past twenty years and the increased number of visitors compel us to ask.
Increased Requirements for Maintenance. During the last fiscal year, the State appropriated $25,000 for
the maintenance of the Reservation and received from it an in
come of $11,085.35, making the net cost of maintenance only $13,914.65. This small expenditure bas drawn hither over three
quarters of a million visitors from all parts of the world, with the attendant financial benefits to the people of the State, and
given them a free view of Niagara Falls.
But this appropriation of $25,000—the same amount as has been granted annually for the past 12 years—is no longer adequate to the requirements of the Reservation. During that period, the number of visitors whose comfort and safety require the utmost care and vigilance on the part of our employees, has increased a quarter of a million souls. The roads of the Park, which, owing to the limited resources of the Commission, have
been built of gravel, are badly worn by the heavy travel to which they are subjected and are sadly in need of repair, or, better still, of reeonstruction. The permanent betterments made within the past twelve years also require a larger allowance for main
We therefore renew
our request of last year for an increase in the appropriation for maintenance from $25,000 to $30,000 and we believe that the situation merits your favorable recognition.
In addition to this increase in the allowance for maintenance,
we renew our request of last year for a special appropriation of $12,000 for the completion of the system of electric lighting. The Reservation is inadequately illuminated at night, many parts being in total darkness. This condition is too dangerous, in various ways which we need not specify, to be permitted to continue. The conduits for the new system are already laid and ready to be connected with the Niagara Falls Power Company's plant as soon as the equipment is completed. The electric service of this equip
ment will cost the State nothing. By the terms of the charter of the Niagara Falls Power Company, it is obliged to furnish the Reservation with electricity free of cost. The result will be that
as soon as connection is made with their service, the State will save the $600 a year which it now pays to the Niagara Falls Hydraulic Power and Manufacturing Company for present servicea sum sufficient to cover the interest on the additional appropri
ation here asked for.
Inclined Railway Superannuated.
The Inclined Railway, carrying passengers from the crest of the bluff near Prospect Point to the river's edge just below the
Falls, near the steamboat landing—a vertical distance of about
160 feet-has reached a state of deterioration which calls for radi
cal amendment. This superannuated structure was built originally in 1853, and has been in continuous use for over half a century with the renewal of only minor parts. It consists of an old-fashioned covered structure of wood, containing two tracks,
and upon the tracks two cars connected by a cable passing over a pulley at the top. As one car descends, the other car ascends, the operation being actuated by water power and assisted by gravity.
The outside stairs at this point are free, but for the use of the railway, a fare of five cents each way is charged. During the past year, this railway yielded the State a revenue of $9,085.35, indi. cating the single-trip carriage of 181,707 passengers. These figures show both the magnitude of the responsibility resting upon this Commission for the safety of so many persons and the value of the railway as a source of revenue to the State. Eighty-two per cent. of the income from the Reservation is derived from this source. Not only a proper solicitude for public safety, but also
. business considerations dictate that this lift should be put in a
condition of the greatest efficiency.
Two methods of relief are open to the Commission. One is to build a new wooden structure. This could be done, according to the estimate of the State Architect, for $5,500. The argument. in favor of this remedy is its cheapness for the time being. There are, however, at least three arguments against it: (1) Such a structure, under the peculiar physical conditions presented by the perpetual mist in summer and the precipitation of the mist in the form of ice in winter, will continue to deteriorate and require constant rehabilitation; (2) it costs over half of the income to maintain and operate this form of elevator; and (3) the long shed-like structure, measuring some 225 feet in length, is a disfigurement to the landscape.
The other remedy is to remove the Inclined Railway altogether, and in its stead install an electric elevator, built into the face of the cliff. The first cost of the elevator will be much more than that of a new inclined railway, but the advantages will more than offset it. The power for operating the elevator, for reasons already stated (page 15) will cost nothing.
We respectfully ask for an appropriation adequate either to re
build the Inclined Railway or to supplant it with an elevator.
On the western face of Goat Island, near the northwestern
point, is a spiral stairway, eighty feet high, called the Biddle
Stairs. It gives access to extraordinary views of both the Ameri
can and Horseshoe Falls to be had only from that standpoint, and to the recess between the falling mass of the Center Fall and the face of the rock over which it plunges, called the Cave of the Winds. A trip to the Cave of the Winds is regarded by many as the most unique and picturesque at Niagara.
The use of these stairs is free; but while the descent is comparatively easy, the ascent is so fatiguing as to be prohibitive to all but the strong and athletic. The present condition of these stairs suggests that the time has arrived for the erection of an elevator at this cardinal point of attraction. The Biddle Stairs were built in 1829, and the original axis of the structure, as well as many if not all of the original risers, are still in use. The experience with the Inclined Railway demonstrates that an elevator would be a paying investment for the State, and the revenue which it would yield, added to that now derived from other sources, would almost, if not quite, reimburse the State for the ordinary