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Extracts From Annual Reports

From First Annual Report, February 17, 1885.

At the very outset of the proceedings for the acquisition of the Reservation, the question as to the ownership of the waters of Niagara river and the land under water arose.

“On the trial before the Commissioners of Appraisement, it was

claimed by the proprietors of the islands and of riparian lots that they owned the bed of Niagara river; and independently of this, that they had a right to use, without stint, the power afforded by the Rapids and the Falls for hydraulic purposes; and they claimed that they should be compensated for the value of this vast water power, even where it had not been reduced to use. Upon this basis, they were prepared to present claims aggregating 20 or 30 millions of dollars. After full argument and careful consideration, the Commissioners of Appraisement rejected all such claims, except where the water power had been actually reduced to use and used for a period long enough to create a prescriptive right. They hold (1) that Niagara river is a public stream and its beds and waters belong to the State; (2) that as against the state, private riparian owners have no right to encroach on its bed to divert its waters or to subject them to the burden of manufacturing uses, unless they have acquired such rightly grant from the State or by prescription.”

Extract from Second Annual Report, February 2, 1886. The pier at Port Day, just east of the boundary line of the reservation is “made land” extending out into the river several


hundred feet. It may be desirable to ascertain whether the owners at Port Day acquired a legal right to occupy the bed of the river.

can readily be connected with the made land from which an uninterrupted view is obtained of the river above

The reservation

and the rapids and islands below."

Extract from

Third Annual Report, January 31, 1887. The area of the Reservation has been increased during the year by an additional acquisition of territory at the head of the Reservation near Port Day. It was found, as stated in the Superintendent's report for 1885, that a portion of the land used by the Hydraulic Power and Manufacturing Company had never been acquired from the State. An agreement with them and the Commissioners of the Land Office has resulted in the company deeding to the Commissioners a part of a lot on Buffalo street, with an agreement not to erect any building on the land they retain which will interfere with the view of the river from the Reservation. A part also of the unacquired territory which had been used by them is retained by the State and will be included in the Reservation.

Superintendent Thomas V. Welch, in his report to the Commissioners of the Reservation printed in the latter's third annual report, dated January 31, 1887, says:

* Upon consultation with the State Engineer and Surveyor, the supposition advanced in the report of the Superintendent for the year 1885 in relation to the made land at Port Day, near the eastern end of the Reservation, was found to be correct. The owaers of the adjacent land had never acquired a legal right to occupy the bed of the river and were negotiating to acquire that right.

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I suggested to the State Engineer that a compromise be effected with such owners, retaining in the State the title to a portion of the pier adjacent to the Reservation and the right of the perpetual access thereto. On June 21, 1886, Commissioner Rogers and the representatives of the Niagara River Hydraulic Power and Manufacturing Co. visited Port Day in relation to the matter. An agreement was arrived at whereby the Canal Company deeded to the State a part of lot No. 89 on Buffalo street and contracted to remove two large buildings now on the lower pier, and in future

not to erect structures thereon which would obstruct the view

up the river from the Reservation. The deed referred to is here

with submitted. The title to about one-half of the lower pier remains in the State. This greatly improves the eastern terminus of the Reservation and adds a comprehensive view of the Niagara river above the Falls, embracing Navy Island and Grand Island, and the interesting locations of Fort Little Niagara and Fort

Schlosser on the river bank.

The commission before concluding their report deem it proper to mention that the organization of a company early in the year with the purpose of building a railroad along the gorge of the Niagara river below the falls as far as the whirlpool, led to an application to the Legislature to protect the Reservation from intrusion and resulted in the passage of an act for that purpose. It is, perhaps, to be regretted that it was not possible to include the debris slope from the falls as far as the whirlpool, within the area of the Reservation, for several reasons. It is an essential element in the great spectacle of Niagara, and forms the connect. ing link, bridging together the falls and the whirlpool, which are a source of almost equal interest to visitors.

As at present

bounded, the Reservation is located almost entirely above the

Falls, so that the many important features which lie below are

outside of its limits and beyond the protection of the State.

Extract from Fourth Annual Report, February 1, 1888.

The scheme of a railroad along the gorge of the Niagara river

below the Falls, of which mention was made in the annual report of 1886, is delayed by legal impediments, yet notice has been received from its projectors of a proposed route which would cut the debris slope within the boundary of the Reservation. It is to be hoped that the project can be prevented.

Extract from Sixth Annual Report, January 22, 1890.

In March 1889, there was introduced in both Houses of the Legislature a bill entitled "An act to authorize thé Niagara Hydraulic Electric Company to erect machinery under Niagara Falls for the purpose of utilizing the water power of said Falls for manufacturing electricity and to erect the necessary machinery for the same.” It was referred to the Judiciary Committee in the Senate, and to the Committee on Internal Affairs in the Assembly On April third the President of the Board sent a letter to the Legislature, under cover to the Speaker, in which objections to the measure were stated. On April fourth a similar letter was addressed to the Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Internal Affairs, and on April fifth, a letter to the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, also aimed against the same measure. Copies of these communications are printed in the appendix to

this report.

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