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BRIDGE TO BATH (GREEN) ISLAND

In this photo from 1901, well-dressed sightseers cross a temporary wooden bridge from Goat Island to Green Island under a warning sign forbidding them from loitering.

Green Island lies between the mainland, near the former Native American Center for the Living Arts, and Goat Island. It was formerly home to several commercial enterprises, but has been without buildings since 1902.

The island was first called Bath Island because the earliest structures on the island were "Warm Cold & Showering Baths," according to an advertisement placed in The Buffalo Patriot newspaper on July 21, 1821 by Samuel Hooker.

Hooker boasted that the building containing the baths was "situated in a beautiful and retired spot, and supplied with the pure and limpid waters of Lake Erie, unadulterated by the streams that fall into the river between the Lake and the Falls, and often discolor the water along the main shores . . ."

Also on the island was a second building "situated in a different part of the Island, where he (Hooker) keeps a choice assortment of Liquors and other refreshments; and several Rooms where Gentlemen may find agreeable & healthful amusements."

The island itself "contains about one acre and a half of ground, and is covered with forest trees, among which are several clusters of evergreens, where the subscriber (Hooker) is forming tasteful and romantic arbors and walks."

"Surrounded by the cool and crystal waters of the Lakes; fanned, during the summer months, by a mild & constant current of pure air produced by the motion of the waters; refreshed by the shades of cedars, maples and poplars; and undisturbed by the intrusion of a single insect, this spot possesses, in an eminent degree, the combined advantages of healthfulness and comfort, and as regards scenery, the most vivid fancy can depict nothing more beautifully wild and romantic than that which is here presented."

Notwithstanding its unspoiled scenic beauty, in 1826, a paper mill was built on the island by Albert H. Porter, son of Judge Augustus Porter, and Henry W. Clark. The mill produced 10,000 reams of paper annually, and was reported to be the largest mill in the state and the second-largest in the nation.

In 1848, Porter and Clark sold the mill, and its name was changed to the Niagara Falls Paper Manufacturing Co. It burned down on Aug. 12, 1858, and was rebuilt, then burned again in 1881. It was rebuilt a second time and continued to operate until 1885, when the state assumed control of the Niagara Reservation and cleared away most structures in the park. The mill office was kept and used as an office by the commissioners until it was demolished on May 12, 1902.

In 1898, the name of the island was changed to Green Island to honor Andrew H. Green, chairman of the board of the reservation commission.

The Whipple iron truss bridges, which had linked the mainland, Green Island and Goat Island since the 1850s, were replaced between 1900 and 1901 by the present triple-arched bridges. The bridges currently carry only foot traffic across to Green Island and to Goat Island.

This just in: Sherlock Holmes enthusiast and researcher Bruce Aikin of Newfane points out the many contradictions in the story of Blondin, who walked tightropes across the Niagara River gorge in the summers of 1859 and 1860.

At least, Aikin said, the widely published report that Blondin rode a bicycle across his rope during that time can be proven false. Aikin said the "earliest proven bicycle" was not invented until 1866.

Aikin also said that he has counted Blondin's crossings at Niagara and they total more than 23, not the 16 that many historians cite.

In addition, Aikin believes that the harrowing tale told by Blondin's manager, Harry Colcord, after Blondin carried him across on his back, was largely invention. No guy ropes broke during that trip, Aikin said, nor did Blondin sprint across the unguyed section of the rope.