Niagara Gazette

Communities

September 12, 2013

Devil's Hole's marking 250th anniversary on weekend

Niagara Gazette — Historians sometimes refer to it as America’s first labor strike.

It happened in Niagara Falls with the 250-foot gorge as the backdrop to a brutal attack.

Today, it’s a small state park, close to the sprawling Niagara Power Project and Niagara University. This weekend marks the 250th anniversary of the Devil’s Hole Massacre.

To commemorate the milestone, Old Fort Niagara and the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation are staging special programs Saturday (at Devil’s Hole) and Sunday (at Fort Niagara). Due to limited parking at Devil’s Hole, visitors are advised to park at the Power Vista lot, off Lewiston Road, and use the free shuttle service that will run from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission to Devil’s Hole and the activities is free.

It was Sept. 14, 1763, when about 400 Seneca Indians lay in wait for the British convoy along the trail at the place called Devil’s Hole.The story goes that the Indians, who had once worked for the French in hauling goods along the portage, between Lewiston and the river above the falls, were upset because the British then controlled Fort Niagara, so the Seneca services were no longer needed. Also, the portage road was an important link in transporting supplies from the Niagara area to Detroit, where the British military post was virtually isolated in the Great Lakes Region. For the Indians, it was payback time, carefully planned by Pontiac, the Ottawa chief of tribes in Michigan. 

As the 25 horses and ox-drawn wagons from Fort Schlosser on the upper river — enroute to the Lower Landing in Lewiston — reached the Indians in hiding that September day, they were suddenly struck by a heavy volley of musket fire. Within seconds, the Indians burst out from the wooded area and continued firing.

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