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On March 9, 1896, Senator Ellsworth introduced in the Senate
a bill entitled “An act to amend the Fisheries, Game and Forest Law, by transferring to the Board of Fisheries, Game and Forest the jurisdiction and care of the State Reservation at Niagara,"
which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Forest, Fish and Game Laws. On March 31, the Committee reported it favorably. On April 8, the bill was recommitted, retaining its order of third reading, and on April 22nd it was again reported favorably; but the bill went no further.
In its Thirteenth Annual Report, dated February 1, 1897, the Commission again urged the Legislature to protect the Reservation from the insidious designs of individuals and corporations
seeking either to secure a foothold in the Reservation or to divert
the water from above the Falls. (See page 103.)
In its Fourteenth Annual Report, dated January 25, 1898, the Commission went over the arguments again. (See page 105.)
In its Fifteenth Annual Report, dated February 1, 1899, the arguments were repeated. (Page 110.)
In its Sixteenth Annual Report, dated January 31, 1900, the
Commission called attention to a new menace contained in a bill
before Congress for the construction of a dam or jetties at the
head of the Niagara river to raise the level of Lake Erie. (Page
During the next two years, 1901 and 1902, the efforts of the Commission were directed mainly toward securing an inter
national agreement for the protection of the Falls, as describeủ
hereafter. (Page 75.)
Ty its Ning.teenth Annual Report, dated February 18, 1903, the si!'ject was reviewed again. (See page 112.)
And in the Legislature of 1904, the Commission strenuously opposed the passage of the bill renewing and enlarging the charter of the Niagara, Lockport and Ontario Power Company bill. The bill passed the Legislature, but the opposition wis carried to the Governor who finally vetoed the bill.
From the foregoing pages, it will be seen that there has not been a year, from 1885 to 1894, both inclusive, in which the Commission has not in some form fought attempts to encroach upon
the Reservation with material structures or to diminish the
volume of the Falls by the diversion of water from the river above. The corporations making these attempts have been opposed generally as a group and specifically by name, without fear or favor. This policy has been maintained consistently by tue Commission from the beginning to the present time, through all the changes in the personnel of the Commission.
Efforts to Secure International Protection.
The failure of the Constitutional Convention of 1894 to place
a constitutional limitation upon the diversion of the waters of Niagara river was a great disappointment to the Commission; and immediately after the adjournment of the convention, the President of the Commission began to take steps to secure international action on the subject. On October 17, 1894, he
wrote to the Hon. Walter Q. Gresham, United States Secretary of State, reciting the dangers menacing the Falls, and the failure of the convention to take action, and suggesting that correspondence be opened with the Canadian Minister of State with a view to securing the permanent protection of the Falls by inter
This was followed by a letter, dated October 19, 1894, to the Hon. J. W. Langmuir, Chairman of the Commissioners of the Canadian Reservation, inviting the co-operation of the Canadian Commissioners in the effort to secure international action. (Sec page 128.)
In its Twelfth Annual Report, dated January 28, 1896, this Commission argued somewhat at length the power of the Federal Government to intervene and the desirability of such joint intervention by the national governments of the United States and Great Britain if the governments of New York State and Ontario should be indifferent to the matter. (See page 98.)
In pursuance of his suggestion, Senator Guy offered in the New York State Senate, on April 29, 1896, a resolution requesting the Federal Government to initiate proceedings to secure the permanent exemption of the Great Lakes and upper Niagara river from such diversions, (see page 179.) The resolution was passed.
In its Thirteenth Annual Report, dated February 1, 1897, this Commission expressed the renewed hope for international action
on the subject. (See page 103.)
In its Fourteenth Annual Report, dated January 25, 1898, the Commission declared that the only power that could provide absolutely sure protection was the combined power of the United States and Great Britain, and in their effort to secure it the Commissioners asked the co-operation of all people interested in the Cataract. (See page 105.)
In its Fifteenth Annual Report, dated February 1, 1899, the
Commission reiterated the advisability of international action.
(See page 110.)
The suggestion was repeated in the Sixteenth Annual Report, January 31, 1900. (See page 111.)
In 1901 and 1902, the President of the Commission, with the helpful co-operation of United States Senator Thomas C. Platt, carried his efforts into Congress. On February 6, 1902, Senator Platt introduced a joint resolution for the creation of an international commission for the purpose of inquiring into the subject
of the diversions of the waters of the Great Lakes and the
rivers constituting the boundary between the United States and Canada. Instead of passing the measure in the form of a joint resolution, however, Congress incorporated it in the River and Harbor Appropriation bill as section 4, and as such it became a law by the approval of the Executive, June 13, 1902.
It authorizes the President of the United States to appoiot
three commissioners to represent the United States in conjunc
tion with a Commission of equal numbers representing the Gov
ernment of Great Britain to investigate the subject.
In the Nineteenth Annual Report of the Commissioners of the
State Reservation at Niagara, dated February 18, 1903, this achievement was recorded with no little satisfaction. (See page
During the earnest fight which was made in the New York Legislature in 1904 against the Niagara, Lockport and Ontario Power Company bill, Senator E. R. Brown introduced a joint resolution (see page 179) requesting the President of the United States to open negotiations with Great Britain for the purpose of framing a treaty which should prevent the further diversion of water from Niagara river; and declaring it to be the opinio!!
of the Legislature that the State of New York should withhold legislation likely to render such action on the part of the Federal
What action has been taken by the President of the United
States in pursuance of this resolution, or what progress the International Waterways Commission has made, the Commissioners of the State Reservation at Niagara are not advised.
Cribuork in River, East of the Reservation. Although the construction of cribwork and booms in the Niagara river east of the Reservation boundary is, with the exception already noted, beyond the jurisdiction of the Commissioners of the State Reservation at Niagara, questions have been raised as to the responsibility for existing structures; and their influence on the volume of water passing over the Falls. In answer to these questions the following facts may be stated.
About 2,000 feet southeast of the eastern boundary of the Reser
vation is the northwestern end of Grass Island. This island is
about 1,000 feet long, 100 feet wide on the average, lying parallel
with and about 500 feet from the north shore of the river.
owned by the Niagara Falls Power Company. The northwestern
end of this island is connected with the shore by a pier cou
taining a gateway.
In the spring of 1901, the Niagara Falls Power Company built a wing dam about 430 feet long extending from the southern side of the island out into the river in the form of a crescent, the extreme end being 380 feet from the shore, but the Commissioners of the State Reservation at Niagara protested verbally against it and it was removed the following spring.