A hidden landmark was restored to its community Thursday as the Griffon Memorial Boulder, which commemorates the first commercial ship to sail the Upper Great Lakes, was moved from a private front lawn and to a public park.
The large stone, bearing a metal plaque, was set up on what was a rural farm plot near Cayuga Creek in 1902 in recognition of Robert Cavelier de LaSalle's 5-ton ship the Griffon, which spurred fur trade and growth in the area.
"It was an expression of optimism for Niagara Falls," said Kenneth Sherman, a volunteer with the Friends of the Buffalo Niagara Rivers. He found the boulder while asking residents on that road to join a creek cleanup.
The plot became the front yard of a home on Buffalo Avenue, with no parking or other markers, and the history of the boulder and ship was lost, Sherman said.
"Very few people know about LaSalle's history," Sherman said. "We've got to do more to lift up this cultural aspect of our community's history."
The memorial was moved two blocks away to Griffon Park, home to the LaSalle Boat Launch, and is displayed on the highest point there.
"We're trying to enhance the waterfront, tourism, and if and when there is a Greenway Park and Trail, this will play into that," Sherman said.
A rededication ceremony will be held at the memorial's new site at 11 a.m. Nov. 13, when re-enactors will depict the 17th century fur trade route at Cayuga Creek, commemorating the 325th anniversary of the building and launching of the Griffon.