“BRIDGES FREEZE first” is a familiar warning from our weather forecasters when our temperatures begin to fall. But, we never experience an icy bridge like the one at Niagara Falls when there are long periods of frigid weather. I just learned about Niagara Falls Ice Bridge when I discovered a 1905 post card sent by my Grandfather Cless to his 8-year-old daughter who years later became my mother, Margaret Palmer.
This post card shows the popular attraction of the ice bridge at the turn of the last century. Tim Parkinson provided the following information from the Internet.
Sheets of thick ice form in the river above the falls and go “thundering over the falls down to the rocks below. As the mist from the falls freezes over them and the process continues, a huge wall forms and spreads between the American and Canadian sides of the falls. When the bridge formed, it provided a site for all kinds of activities. Skating, tobogganing, walking, sight-seeing and social gatherings. Entrepreneurs set up little businesses in shanties on the bridge. There were photographers, souvenir sales booths, food stands where hot drinks were sold. There also were liquor sales locations at the middle of the bridge. Because liquor sales were illegal, if a liquor agent came to enforce the law, the seller would say he was from the other country and determining the middle line separating the U.S. and Canada was difficult to determine. Thus, that chosen spot for the booze stands. For more than 100 years, all this activity has been prohibited. On February 4, 1912, with hundreds on the bridge, the bridge broke loose from the side and sent the people scampering. All but three were able to make it to shore in time. But after that, it was deemed illegal to go out on the bridge. Today it is still a fascinating tourist attraction when the winters are cold enough to produce the ice.
jeanealities is compiled by Jean Palmer Davies, lifetime Barnesville Enterprise associate. She may be reached at jeandavies @comcast.net.