A monument to the Niagara River portage will soon be relocated to a new, more prominent home by the New York Power Authority.
The Old Stone Chimney, a surviving relic of the French and Indian War and the War of 1812, currently sits nearly hidden on NYPA property behind the former Porter Park on Buffalo Avenue in Niagara Falls, adjacent to the Robert Moses Parkway and its exit ramp to the city.
The chimney will be relocated to NYPA land across the parkway and closer to the Niagara River. This more accessible venue will allow the chimney to serve as a featured component in developing heritage tourism efforts. The relocation is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
"NYPA is happy to support the growing public interest in local heritage tourism as symbolized by this architectural artifact and its relevance to the region's rich history," said NYPA President and CEO Gil C. Quiniones. "Along with our Niagara Power Vista Visitors Center, we are pleased to help provide another reason for tourists to come to Niagara Falls."
As part of the relocation effort, NYPA will install a new foundation and reassemble the Old Stone Chimney. To improve public access to the site, NYPA will provide a small parking area.
"NYPA's support provides the city with the best opportunity to showcase the chimney," Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster said. "In addition, it is our intention to use NYPA Greenway funding to position the chimney site to serve as a gateway to Niagara Falls State Park, the Niagara River's existing hiking and biking trails and to other tourism and recreation sites currently in development."
The chimney was originally part of the French barracks just outside the Fort du Portage and was used for cooking and heating in the 1700s. When the British invaded, the French abandoned and burned down the fort, but the chimney survived. It then became part of the home of Gen. Peter A. Porter in the 1840s.
Since the current and proposed locations for the chimney are within the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission boundary for the Niagara Power Project, the relocation is subject to review under NYPA's Historic Properties Management Plan agreed to with FERC during the project's relicensing. The New York State Historic Preservation Office will monitor the project. A number of interested agencies and preservation groups are providing guidance, including the Niagara Falls Planning Department, the Historic Preservation Commission, the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area Commission and the Niagara Portage Old Guard.
"I appreciate NYPA's support for yet another effort to expand public access to Western New York waterways," Congressman Brian Higgins said. "By continuing to improve infrastructure and give people more reasons and opportunity to get closer to the water's edge, we can continue the transformational changes taking place."
"We have so much of our heritage in Niagara County to be proud of," Assemblyman John Ceretto said. "The relocation of the chimney enhances the entranceways to the city and the state park while boosting the developing heritage trail. It creates another interesting stopping point for visitors exploring the history of our region and our country on their way to Fort Niagara and other attractions."
"Our region is full of compelling stories and I applaud the efforts underway to allow more tourists to experience a relic of the 1700s and our area's historical role in the development of our nation," State Sen. Robert Ortt said.
Mayor Paul Dyster, left, and Gil C. Quiniones, president and CEO of the New York Power Authority, stand in front of the Old Stone Chimney and discuss NYPA's plans to relocate the monument closer to the Niagara River to enhance public access. Located on NYPA property, the chimney dates back to the mid-18th century and was once part of French and British forts. (NYPA photo)