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My great grandfather John Ayrault Hobbie (1848 ~ 1917) is seen here in the wooden launch Swan, navigating the Lower Niagara River near Lewiston, NY. The Swan originally belonged to my great great grandfather, Dr. Pliny Harold Hayes (1824 ~ 1894), John A. Hobbie’s father-in-law, but was used by all the family members who summered in Lewiston.
I don’t have many details about this boat, but I believe it had a canopy such as can be seen on many steam & gasoline-powered launches of the day. Maybe some aficionado of such vessels can give me some information. In any case, the Swan was a classic.
One feature of this photo is the clear view of the Canadian shore with its scoured bank, above which the trees held firm. This phenomenon was the result of ice jams that occurred every winter, with greater or lesser severity. The bank at my family’s estate at Cedar Bank is about 80 feet high, give or take, & almost two-thirds of that was bare shale in my childhood. Many river dwellers had to rebuild various structures, from stairs to boat houses, nearly every year.
Nowadays, an ice boom between Buffalo, NY, & Fort Erie, Ontario, at the mouth of the Niagara, prevents ice from leaving Lake Erie, whipping downstream, & rumbling over the falls. Gone are the days of the huge ice bridges at the foot of the falls, & the serious ice jams downriver to Youngstown, NY, & Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario. Now the trees hold sway all the way to the water along this stretch. And now they are endangered not by ice jams but by Jet Boats!
I cleaned this up just a smidgen (or a tich, if you prefer), & cropped out acres of muddy-looking sky!