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upon the debris slope below the high bank facing the lower Niag

ara river, from the Inclined Railway in the Reservation to Lewis

ton. Formal application for permission was made by the com

pany in a letter read at the meeting of the Reservation Commis

sioners held May 13, 1886, but on motion of Commissioner Green

the request was denied. The effort was continued in 1887 and

1888, but was successfully antagonized by the Commission. (See

page 87).

In 1889, another determined attempt was made through the

Legislature to invade the Reservation, this time by the Niagara

Hydraulic Electric Company. On March 14, Senator Raines in

troduced a bill to authorize this company to erect machinery

under the Falls for the purpose of generating electricity. On the

same date the bill was introduced in the Assembly. Under dates of April 3rd, 4th, and 5th, the President of the Commission ad

dressed letters respectively to the Legislature, to Chairman S.

Fred. Nixon of the Assembly Committee on Internal Affairs and

to Chairman George B. Sloan of the Senate Committee on Finance

(See pages 120-121 following) protesting most earnestly against

this violation of the clear intent of the law creating the Reserva

tion. The sentiment which these protests represented was eventually successful in defeating the bill. (See comments of Commis

sion in Sixth Annual Report, given on page 86 following).

So far as the protection of the Reservation from intrusive struc

tures is concerned, the Commission's power appears to be ample

if not overriden by special Legislative acts.

Opposition to Diversion of Water.

The grandeur of the principal feature of the Reservation, however, is menaced by conditions existing outside of the Reservation

over which the Commission has no legal control. The land of the, Reservation was purchased by the State only as a setting for the Falls of Niagara. If the Falls and Rapids did not exist there, the Reservation would not have been created. The Falls, there

fore, are the capital feature, the raison d'être, of the Reservation.

The Falls are made by the water passing over the precipice, and

this water comes from beyond the jurisdiction of the Commission

and is subject to conditions over which the Commission has no

legal control. If the Commission were satisfied with any narrow and technical construction of its responsibilities, it might be

indifferent toward what individuals or the State did outside of the

strict limits of the Commission's jurisdiction.

It has not, however, been satisfied with any such limited interpretation of its responsibility. Although its legal powers stop at the boundary of the Reservation, it has felt a weighty moral

obligation to defend the Falls from every effort, proximate or remote, to impair their beauty. And this effort has been made consistently, persistently, and impartially since the danger to the Falls by the diversion of its waters has become apparent.

In the first annual report of this commission, dated February 17, 1885, attention was called to the fact demonstrated in the condemnation proceedings, that the bed and waters of Niagara river belonged to the State, and that the riparian owners had no right to the bed or to divert the waters without a grant from the State. (See page 83 following.)

At this time, the Niagara Falls Hydraulic Power and Manufacturing Company (see page 152 following), the first of the corporations to divert the waters of the river, was occupying several hundred feet of made land extending out into the river at Port Day, on the eastern boundary of the Reservation; and in the second annual report, dated February 2, 1886, the Commission called into question the right of the company to the use of the land. (See page 83 following.)

The investigation which followed established the illegal use of

the land, and resulted in an application by the company to the Commissioners of the Land Office for a grant of the land in question. In the negotiations which followed, the company on July

21, 1886, deeded to the State of New York a part of Lot 89 adjacent to the eastern boundary of the Reservation on the south side

of Buffalo street, about an eighth of an acre in extent (see page 171) which should be added to the Reservation. About two thirds of an acre of the land illegally occupied was also recovered

and should be added to the Reservation—the additions thus made

permitting of the construction of the Loop Drive which has become an attractive feature of the Reservation. On August 4, 1886, the Commissioners of the Land Office granted to the company a patent t'o four and eight-hundredths acres of land under water at the intake of their canal at that point. (See copy of grant page

. 172.) By reference to the report of this transaction in the third annual report of this Commission dated January 31, 1887, (see

page 84), it will be seen that the Commission also secured the removal of two large buildings on the pier at Port Day, and an agreement on the part of the company not to erect structures thereon in the future which would obstruct the view from the


In the chronological order of events, we will return to this

company presently.


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In 1886, the Legislature charactered two more companies to take water from the river above the falls, namely, the Niagara River Hydraulic Tunnel, Power and Sewer Co., re-named the Niagara Falls Power Co., (sée page 153), and the Lockport Water Supply Co., re named the Lockport Water and Electric Co., (see page 155.) In 1888 it chartered the Lewiston Water Supply Co. (see page 157), and in 1889 the Buffalo and Niagara Power and Drainage Co. (see page 157.) These grants to take water from the river above the Falls, together with the actual work on the tunnel of the Niagara River Hydraulic Tunnel, Power and Sewer Co. in 1890, so alarmed the Commission that on Oct. 25, 1890, the President wrote to the State Engineer asking his opinion concerning the effect of the diversion of a large amount of water by the tunnel then under construction. (See page 123.) Receiving no reply the request was repeated December 2, 1890 (see page 123.) Soon thereafter the Commission received a reply, dated December 1, 1890 (see page 124), in which the State Engineer gave it as his opinion “that the amount of water that can be taken through this tunnel will not affect the depth of water flowing over the Falls to an extent that will be visible.”

In the seventh annual report of the Commission, dated January 29, 1891 (see page 87) publicity was given to the proposed operations of this Company, now called the Niagara Falls Power Co. The Legislature, however, not only extended the charter

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