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From Tenth Annual Report, January 27, 1894.
During the winter the Niagara Falls Hydraulic and Power Conpany sought to procure the enactment of a bill giving it permission still further to divert the water of the Niagara river, and
to enlarge its existing canals for this purpose. It was plainly the duty of the Commissioners to oppose this bill. The president of the board appeared before the Assembly committee of commerce and navigation in the interest of the State against action by the committee favorable to the bill. He was ably assisted by the Attorney-General. The bill was not reported.
The Commissioners would again record their strenuous and unchangeable opposition to all proposed legislation of this nature and to all schemes or enterprises in the interest of corporations seeking to obtain the right to divert the water of the upper Niagara. The State has already granted away a franchise of enormous value to a corporation purposing to use the water of the river for manufacturing purposes. The Commissioners are of opinion that the State should hereafter steadfastly refuse to make such grants. The water in the river is generally low enough from natural or unavoidable causes; and the probability is that the volume of it is gradually diminishing.
From Eleventh Annual Report, January 30, 1895. The Niagara Falls Hydraulic Power and Manufacturing Company has been permitted to erect and maintain cribs and other
structures in the Niagara river eastwardly from and outside of
The president of the board opposed, before a legislative committee, the bill to incorporate the Niagara, Lockport and Ontario Power Company. Notwithstanding this opposition, the bill incorporating the company passed the Legislature and was signed by the Governor.
Section 10 of this act provides as follows:
"Said company may, for the purposes for which it is incorporated, or any of them, take water from the Niagara river at such point or points between the mouth of the Tonawanda Creek and the east line of lot number fifty-two of the mile reserve (socalled) as may be most convenient, and may, under the rigbt of eminent domain hereafter granted to it by this act, and in
pursuance thereof, intercept and divert the flow of water from
lands of riparian owners, and from persons owning or interested in waters which are or may be necessary for the purposes of said company, and may prevent the flow or drainage of noxious or impure waters or matters from the lands of others into any canal, raceway, reservoir, or other work of said company, and may alter,
straighten, deepen, obstruct or increase the flow of water in
streams or water channels, intersecting or connecting with or contiguous to its works or any thereof; but such company shall have no other or further right in regard to obstructing such streams or water channels as aforesaid than it would have under
its right of eminent domain as hereafter granted by this act, and may discharge water into Lake Ontario, or into the EighteenMile Creek or other stream or streams at such point or points and in such quantity and manner as may be most convenient and advantageous, and may build, erect, construct, dig and lay any canals, bulkheads, dams, gates, sluices, reservoirs, aqueducts, conduits, pipes, culverts, posts, abutments, conductors, cables, wires,
insulators or other works, machinery, fixtures or buildings of every kind and description whatsoever that may be necessary,
proper and convenient for its said purposes, or any thereof, in said river, or upon any land by it held as hereinafter provided.”
The company has obtained permission to take water to in unlimited extent from the river, and to intercept and divert the flow of water from lands of riparian owners. “ This is to grant away without compensation," said the president of the board in a letter to the Governor, “a very valuable privilege or franchise.
The State is the riparian owner at the Falls, and for about a mile eastwardly from them. For the State deliberately to grant to a private corporation the right to depreciate the value of public property and diminish the attractiveness of Niagara Falls
-the most famous object in natural scenery the country possesses
-must be pronounced indefensible. The passage by the Legisla ture of this and other similar measures can only be characterized as injurious to the public interests. Too many bills to allow corporations to take water from the Niagara river without com
pensation, have been passed, and it is time this policy or pro
cedure should cease.
“ Even if compensation were exacted for the privilege of taking water from the Niagara river, it can not be doubted that the injury to the Falls would be a greater loss than could be reprasented by dollars. The great number of visitors to the Falis constitute a source of revenue to the people of the State. If the Falls cease to be attractive to tourists, this revenue will cease.
The probability of serious injury to the sublime spectacle of the Falls should far outweigh considerations of private pecuniary advantage.”
It is now three years since the Commissioners first expressed their disapproval of the diversion of the water of the Upper Niagara by manufacturing corporations, and in their eighth report they endeavored to impress upon the Legislature the iniportance of refusing to grant to corporations the right, privilege or license to do this. They reiterated their oposition to such
diversions in the ninth and tenth reports.
But the Legislature
was not persuaded to adopt the views of the Commissioners.
The danger to the Falls and the consequent diminution of the value of the State's property at Niagara could not but be matter for solicitude, and it seemed to be the duty of the Commissioners to do all they reasonably could to secure for the Upper Niagara
permanent exemption from diversion.
In the convention to revise the State Constitution, which began its sessions in May, a resolution was offered by the President of this Board, and adopted by the convention, which authorized a special committee to report to the convention whether an amendment should be made to the Constitution restraining the Legislature from granting to corporations or individuals the right to divert the waters of the Upper Niagara, and to inform the convention of the rights and privileges heretofore granted, and
the particulars, extent and consideration therefor.
The committee as appointed visited Niagara Falls, carefully
investigated the whole subject and presented to the convention an interesting and comprehensive report, and proposed the following amendment to the Constitution :
“No charter, license or privilege to divert from their natural
channel the waters of the Niagara river, or any portion thereof, above Niagara Falls, shall be granted to any corporation, ass')ciation, person or persons, except for sanitary, domestic or fire purposes and such water shall not be diverted for any purpo:32 except as herein indicated.
“All corporations, associations or persons who have heretofore been licensed or granted the right to divert the waters vi said river shall be under the direction and control of · The Coinmissioners of the State Reservation at Niagara,' or such oth:1 official or officials as may be given the control of said Reservå. tion. Each of said corporations, associations or persons shall only be permitted to divert any portion of the waters of said river in such amounts and upon such conditions and for such compensation to the State as said Commissioners or official or officials having charge of the said Reservation shall prescribe and determine. But this section shall not be so construed as to prevent the Legislature from altering, suspending or repealing any or all grants or charters which permit the waters of the Niagara river to be diverted from their natural channel."
This proposed amendment called forth much discussion in the convention, and much opposition outside of it. The special committee granted hearings to the representatives of the corporations interested and to residents at or near Niagara Falls, and it can not be doubted that strenuous and extraordinary efforts were made to secure the defeat of the amendment.
Various amendments were offered to the proposed amendment. and the debates were continued during a number of sessions. The convention, however, refused to adopt any amendment, having for its object the protection of the cataract. Thus the corpora