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New Youngstown walking tours focus on history

YOUNGSTOWN – A volunteer portraying Ada Steele, whose husband built the famous El Dorado Hotel formerly located on Main Street, will kick off Youngstown’s guided walking tours at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

These informative strolls, which begin at the Falkner Park kiosk, are offered through October. They are geared for those ages 10 and up and are free, although donations are gratefully accepted.

The roughly hour-and-a-half walks are sponsored by the Youngstown Heritage Tours and Tourism Committee committee, in conjunction with the Town of Porter Historical Society.

“We started giving the walking tours years ago, to fourth-grade classes,” recalled committee member Karen Noonan. “Then we started offering one (for adults) on the War of 1812 and one on the historic homes on Main Street.

“Last year, we expanded to include a walk on the Underground Railroad, one on the waterfront and another on Youngstown hauntings,” she added. “That one was really popular and we must have had 50 people for it.”

Wednesday’s Main Street commercial district walk will offer participants a glimpse of the homes of merchants who prospered as their small community grew and will be led by volunteer Donna Huggins in period garb.

On July 11, the group will present “Women and the War of 1812,” offering a woman’s view of the war by a volunteer portraying Agnes Greensitt. This tour focuses on the families who resided in the hamlet of Young’s town in the early 1800s, named after landowner John Young, and how they survived the War of 1812 when the hamlet was destroyed by the British.

The Lower Niagara River and Youngstown waterfront will be the backdrop of the historic stroll Aug. 8, covering the river’s importance to the development of the hamlet of Youngstown.

The Underground Railroad will be the topic of the Sept. 12 walk, concentrating on its history and the role of Youngstown residents who helped escaping slaves cross the Lower Niagara River to reach freedom in Canada.

The final tours will be held Oct. 3 and 10, and will feature “Youngstown Hauntings,” highlighting local cemeteries and the historic Ontario House. Participants will hear the stories of Youngstown ghosts and see the homes and buildings they haunt.

The Village of Youngstown is located at the mouth of the Niagara River, adjacent to Old Fort Niagara and Fort Niagara State Park. The committee established a large, laminated map on a kiosk on in Falkner Park last year, to help visitors understand the history of the village, including its association with the fort, dating to the 17th century.

A new map, detailing local services, from restaurants to restrooms, will soon complete the Falkner Park kiosk.

For further information or to schedule a group historic walking tour, visit: http://youngstownnyhttc.wix.com/youngstownnyhttc, call 745-1271 or email youngstownnyhttc@roadrunner.com.

“We would be more than willing to give a tour for a group of 10 or more at a time convenient for them,” Noonan said.