Niagara Falls was the first major stop on our trip. We lived in Western New York for a while and things have changed quite a bit since we left the area ten years ago. There are now 3 casinos, several new immense hotels, and more tourist traps than I thought imaginable. Being on Clifton Hill has never been the highlight of a trip to the falls for us. Unfortunately, this is pretty much the only thing that most people know about the falls.
We took our ritual drive north to Niagara on the Lake, a quaint town at the mouth of the Niagara River. We would typically stop for a hike down the gorge but having a 3 year old in tow made this ideas less than appealing. Niagara on the Lake is still as cute as we remember. On our way there, we did stop at a new souvenir shop. Being a fan of all things roadside, we could not resist the over-sized bear and moose carvings, the totem poles, and log cabin appearance of the place. Question: why did the moose sculpture need to be anatomically correct?
No trip to the falls is complete without a stop by Love Canal. I have had a morbid sense of curiosity about this place for some time. It is not on any map but if you follow the river towards Buffalo, just before leaving Niagara Falls proper and entering the town of Wheatfield, north of the LaSalle Expressway at 102nd St., you will find a somewhat barren landscape where a neighborhood used to be. The canal proper, where the toxic waste is stored, is surrounded by a chain link fence with intermittent landscaping.
The area north of the canal and some areas west of the canal have been redeveloped with new housing - a scary thought it you ask me. The history of the canal is tied intrinsically to what our collective attitude seems to have has been towards the falls and perhaps to our environment in general. I think that my attitude towards everything plastic is somehow related to my thoughts about Love Canal but I haven't quite figured that all out yet.
The place is truly sublime. Hopefully one day they will put a marker that identifies this place or maybe they’ll even begin giving tours. I doubt either of these things will ever occur within my lifetime.