Animals Died For Niagara Falls Entertainment
Niagara Falls Horseshoe Falls in 1849
Animals Died For Niagara Falls Entertainment
Good day readers. I know when most of us think of animal abuse for entertainment we think of dog fighting, cock fighting or circus abuse of our four legged friends. Few people realize that one of our most famous landmarks, Niagara Falls, may hold one of the first recorded records of animal cruelty for entertainment purposes.
Niagara Falls is located between Ontario, Canada and Niagara Falls, New York. Click here for a map of the area.
Here's a little history lesson about the local hotels, businessmen of the era, and the first reported case of America animal cruelty I've found on record. There may be earlier, but this is a really unusual case and I want to share it with all of you.
Until 1836, the Pavilion Hotel was the best in the area. William Forsyth, a ruthless businessman, had torn down the original Niagara Falls Hotel, which he had acquired in 1817. John Brown was his competition, building his hotel, the Ontario House Tavern in 1820. It was located south of the Pavilion Hotel. Both men also operated stagecoach service for the Niagara Falls tourists.
General Parkhurst Whitney, proprietor of the American Eagle Hotel, is a well known part of Niagara Falls history. The outlying islands at the falls are named after is four children. The Sister Islands, located 500 yards east of Horseshoe Falls, are named after his daughters Asenath (a-see-nath), Angeline and the third island is called Celinda Eliza. The fourth and smallest is known as Little Brother Island named Solon after his infant son.
In 1827 Whitney came up with a scheme to draw tourists to both sides of the falls.
This was the first of many stunts to take place at the Niagara Falls over the years. It's still one of the daredevil capital's of the world.
To construct the stunt, a retired ship "The Michigan" was purchased by the three men. The ship measured 16 feet from keel to deck. Then "ferocious animals" were to be placed on board ship and the ship sent over the falls with the animals on board. The men responsible even decorated the old ship to resemble a pirate ship, right down to typing dummies to the deck as pretend pirates.
Many of the spectators were allowed to go aboard ship beforehand and check out the dangerous cargo. These included a buffalo, two small bears, two raccoons, a dog and a goose.
The event promoters advertised the attraction beforehand and a crowd of roughly 10,000-30,000 (depending on which reference is to be believed) turned out to watch the "entertainment." This occurred on September 8, 1827 when the caged and tied animals were sent over Horseshoe Falls.
The real nightmare began when the boat passed the center of Horseshoe Falls and broke into splinters. The bears did manage to get loose as the vessel fell apart before going over the falls. They were able to swim to safety, along with the goose, who was caught at the bottom of the falls. All of the other animals died.
I'm glad I found this story to share with you. Not only for the historical impact, but because it's an interesting story. It shows us the darker side of humanity was present even in the early days of United States history. I find myself mad at everyone involved. From the "promoters" to the "spectators" who came for the thrill of the kill. There's no way anyone can convince me all involved didn't know beforehand these animals were going to die.
Sadly, humanity hasn't changed a lot since then. We hear of arrests every week where illegal dogfights and cockfights are busted up by police. We hear of abused circus animals. All of these animals suffering for man's pleasure.
I don't consider what happened at Niagara any different as far as humanity goes. This was animal abuse. Yet this animal cruelty didn't exactly make the history books. Niagara Falls wouldn't want to spoil it's magnificent history. The references are online. It's not like the people who promote the falls these days try to hide it. But they don't brag about it either.
Imagine the fear the animals experienced out there on the water. The roar of the falls in their ears. These poor helpless creatures didn't stand a chance or know what was happening to them.
Yet this was legal entertainment. This also goes to show how inaccurately a crowd can be judged. No one will ever really know how many people stood by and watched these animals die a cruel death. The point is, no one did a thing to save them.
Which also happens all too often in today's society.
Elisa Black-Taylor is a regular contributor to www.pictures-of-cats.org
Thoughts? Comments anyone? I'm leaving this one wide open for my readers.