Niagara Gazette — It seemed as though the Maid of the Mist’s fleet of tour boats might be trapped in the icy Niagara all winter at times this year but the attraction operators used their newly built marine crane to lift the water vessels out of the choppy river and onto wooden blocks at the company’s new storage site on the American side of the Niagara Gorge in late October.
The Maid of the Mist faced tight construction deadlines, legal challenges and public criticism, but owner James Glynn was on hand this fall to watch two of his boats come to rest at the edge of the river on 25-foot-thick concrete pads built this year at the former Schoellkopf Power Station site.
“It’s very gratifying that we’re here and everything’s in place,” Glynn said that day. “We’ll be ready to start in the spring from the American side.”
The Maid of the Mist, which has taken tourists on up-close tours of the Falls for more than 140 years and has been owned by the Glynn family since 1971, lost its rights to operate the attraction on the Canadian side of the gorge in an open bidding process in 2009 to the California-based tour boat company Hornblower Cruises and Entertainment.
Hornblower will take control of the winter docking site, located on the Canadian side, at the beginning of 2014, leaving the Maid with no way to store their fleet.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a deal between the Maid of the Mist, and the New York Power Authority, in which the state would see the company invest $32 million into the Schoellkopf Power Station site to convert it to a boat storage facility and enhance the grounds to make them more attractive to tourists — with renderings of interpretive signage and rock climbers — during a visit to Niagara Falls last December, 2012. As part of the deal the company agreed to pay an additional $105 million over the remaining 30 years of the 40-year, no-bid contract signed in 2002.