The Devil’s Hole Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary

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The Devil’s Hole State Park is 42 acres of both wooded and cleared land along the Niagara River gorge, adjacent to the Whirlpool State Park. The park has a charming trail along the top of the ridge, providing beautiful scenery, including a view of both the American and Canadian Power vistas, which are both accessible to the public. http://www.nypa.gov/vc/niagara.htm and http://www.niagaraparks.com/niagara-falls-attractions/sir-adam-beck.html   If you descend one of the walkways down to the river, you will be presented with a wild river, full of torrential rapids. There are also trails down below.* Beware this is a dangerous area and to enter the water is deadly. Also, the trails are steep and the footing can be treacherous. http://www.everytrail.com/best/hiking-buffalo-new-york.

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The Niagara area and beyond are very historical and played a large role in the establishment of the United States as we know it.

Yesterday marked the memorial of the 250th year since the Seneca Native Americans ambushed the British at Devil’s Hole.  http://niagara-gazette.com/communities/x312428187/Devils-Holes-marking-250th-anniversary-on-weekend.

To commemorate the Anniversary, a re-enactment of the events was held. The upper trail is most often used by tourists, joggers and dog walkers, but yesterday, that wasn’t the case; horses and wagons appeared in the normally quiet park. True to period costumes for the soldiers, Native American garb for the Native Americans, and rifle firing over the gorge were the order of the day. There were also walking tours available, and we took one, in which the speakers in essence said the following;

*Warning: the italicized writing is HISTORY. We like it. Not everyone does. We tried to make it interesting, but to each their own…

In 1763 the British held Fort Niagara, after the displaced French, and the Native tribes of the area were unhappy about it. Supplies played a vital part in why the Fort was needed and in supplying Detroit further on down the line.

Now here’s the rub. The Seneca had held this trade route for many years and considered it their right; after all, it was their land and livelihood. They had tolerated the newcomers, having found a useful niche, of sorts, but when the British cut them out of the equation, a smoldering resentment erupted into the ambush at Devil’s hole. About 400 Seneca were waiting for the convoy and when all was said and done around a hundred men were killed, many scalped and found in the river, having fallen the height of the gorge down to the river below. The headmaster survived, having escaped back to Fort Schlosser, up river, above the Falls and lived to tell about it. http://dmna.ny.gov/forts/fortsQ_S/schlosserFort.htm.

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Men representing the 46th Regiment Grenadiers dressed for their role in authentic period costume, tall hats and all. Chris is a regular participant in re-enactments, and a Western New Yorker. We commented on his “chapeau” and its unusual shape and height and told him it reminded us of a German topper. He answered, saying the Germans had also used them and that “it was designed to intimidate by adding height” to the often already taller than average Grenadiers. He also said how another advantage was when the Grenadiers, (who used to throw grenades), found that when they did so, sometimes their hats would catch on fire, and that the  taller hats would not! (At least that’s what Chris said)… Eventually these same hats morphed into the bearskin hats we know and love today as those worn by the Queen’s Guards displaying them in front of Buckingham Palace. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bearskin Chris kindly posed for this photo; a fine looking specimen, at that.

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We spoke with Al Parker, also known as Ho/yen/dah/onh who was one of the Seneca representatives. He was sure to tell us that his native name means “He got it”, which we found amusing! Parker felt the main thing that came out of this historic event was the treaty between the English and the Seneca Nations. Parker is on the Board of Directors at Old Fort Niagara and is involved in the French and Indian War re-enactment held there each July, http://militaryhistorynow.com/2013/07/08/living-history-french-indian-war-comes-alive-at-fort-niagara/ He also told us that some of his fellow participants at this event were regular re-enactors who act in movies as well! Pretty cool.

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6 thoughts on “The Devil’s Hole Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary”

  1. i have fished down in devil’s hole a few times! it is gorgeous down there but quite the hike, especially with fishing gear! caught a bass, a garr and a carp down there but lost a lot of lures due to the rapids

  2. Hi Jess…my family has done some fishing there as well, though I never have. Did you enjoy it? Do you catch and release or actually take that home and cook ‘er up? You could do some creative recipes using Niagara fish! Now there’s a challenge for you!

  3. Thank you for the interesting article and beautiful pictures. I am a New York State Trolley driver around Niagara Falls. Always, very interested in the many historical stories of our area. As you know, there are many variables about Devils Hole. After reading, I thought your version of the time and circumstances to be correct. Thanks again for posting about our record of past events.

    1. Brady, we’re so glad you enjoyed our article and photos! We have so much to work with, here in the Falls, with the vast beauty and substantial history available. Having been in the tourist industry, locally, we realize as a trolley car driver that you must have a wealth of information in your head, willing and ready to share with the curious pubic, so thanks for the compliment! Come on back and visit us again.

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