Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Niagara Falls Travel Diary, 1815

Finding aid created by
Philip Heslip, August 2010

Summary Information
Title: Niagara Falls travel diary
Creator: Anonymous
Inclusive dates: 1815
Extent: 1 volume
Abstract:
The Niagara Falls travel diary contains entries written while the diarist (anonymous) was on a trip from Albany, New York, to Niagara Falls, in the summer of 1815. The volume includes descriptions of the terrain around the falls and of the people the traveler met during the journey.

Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu


Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1995. M-3145.2.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Preferred Citation:

Niagara Falls travel diary, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


History

This travel diary was written by an anonymous author who traveled from Albany to Fort Erie and Buffalo, and finally to Niagara Falls, in the summer of 1815. The writer traveled by wagon, ferry, and raft, and explored the terrain on both the Canadian and American sides of the falls at a time when this was not yet a popular tourist attraction.


Collection Scope and Content Note

The Niagara Falls travel diary (18 pages) contains entries written while the diarist was on a trip from Albany, New York, to Niagara Falls, in the summer of 1815. The volume includes descriptions of the terrain around the falls and of the people the traveler met during the journey.

In the first entry, dated July 24, 1815, the author described a tour to Niagara Falls, starting at Albany and traveling past Utica along the Mohawk River. The diarist noted that the terrain was "unmistakable for its beauty" and compared it favorably to Harper’s Ferry. The second entry, August 4, describes the trip by ferry from Buffalo, New York, to Fort Erie, and eventually to Niagara. At Fort Erie, which was "a heap of ruin," the traveler encountered a military officer who had witnessed the fort’s siege by the British in 1814. Next, the author described the town of Chippewa, which suffered a damaging battle one year earlier. Passing Fort Niagara, the travelers enjoyed an easy approach to Niagara Falls; the writer described its physical features as well as the inhabitants of the area, including the Forsyth family, who hosted them. The diarist was disappointed that this natural wonder was so easy to reach, and lamented that the falls were "so completely at our command[,] so entirely abased at our feet." Multiple paths stretched along the falls, including trails on both the Canadian and New York sides.

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • Albany (N.Y.)
    • Buffalo (N.Y.)
    • Fort Erie (Ont.)
    • New York (N.Y.)--Description and travel.
    • Niagara Falls (N.Y. and Ont.)
    • United States--History--War of 1812.
    Genre Terms:
    • Diaries.
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
    Volume   1  
    Niagara Falls Travel diary,   July 24-August 4, 1815 [series]:
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    The Clements Library holds other accounts of early trips to Niagara Falls, including:

    The Norton Strange Townshend family papers contain 4 daguerreotype views of Niagara Falls (1853).