Our history in the Niagara Frontier Area is a rich history. We have much to be proud of and appreciate in the region. This page will be updated with little tidbits of interesting information regarding heating, refrigerating, and air conditioning and our region.
At the turn of the 18th century, the Niagara Frontier was mostly rural with small villages. A large portion of the land was purchased by the Holland Land Company in 1797, which was then Niagara County and later divided into Niagara and Erie Counties. Joseph Ellicott and Paul Busti were district representatives for the Holland Land Company and many of the old deeds date back to this era. There were the villages of Niagara, Youngstown, Lewiston, Blackrock, and Buffalo. Fort Niagara built in 1678, guarded the “Gateway to the west” with Fort George on the opposite Canadian side and Fort Erie opposite Buffalo.
The reason for the War of 1812 is something that historians cannot quite agree upon except that after less than 30 Years of independence, the United States declared war on Britain. There was very little local enthusiasm for this war, especially after the burning of Newark, Canada (Niagara on the Lake) by General McClure’s American troops. Later in the war the British and Canadians retaliated by burning Buffalo and Detroit. Geographically Buffalo was situated at the end of Lake Erie at a time when the waterways were the prime method of travel, making it a natural link between the undeveloped West and the East. Unfortunately, the area was isolated from Lake Ontario and the ocean by Niagara Falls, with no way of getting around the falls by boat. This was before the advent of the Erie Barge Canal which connected Buffalo to Albany and New York, or the Welland Canal which bypasses Niagara Falls and connects Lake Erie to Lake Ontario and the east coast trade.
The region remains largely rural with diary products being an important part of the economy. After the War of 1812, Niagara Frontier’s fortunes took a turn for the better. Dewitt Clinton, later to become Governor of New York State, and his dream of the Erie Canal was foretold in a letter that Clinton wrote in 1816. “Buffalo was to be the point of the beginning of the canal and in 50 years it would be next to New York in wealth and population.” Just 7 years after it’s start and a cost of about 7 Million Dollars. The Erie Barge Canal opened on October 26,1825, the greatest public works project yet undertaken by the United States. With this 350 mile long, 40 foot wide, 4 foot deep waterway, the future of the Niagara Frontier was secure. Industry and goods from all over the country came into Buffalo from the lakes and sent on through to Albany, the Hudson River, and the rest of the world. All areas of New York State benefited from the commerce brought by “Clinton’s Ditch”. In addition, the building of the canal required large construction crews; some settling in the area, later to form towns and cities.
Lockport in 1820 was a clearing in the forest with less than 100 people By 1829 it had a permanent population of 2100. The canal brought water power and in 1835 there were flour mills, wool factories, fine boot and shoe factories, and of course, several breweries. Lockport became the power center of Niagara County until the harnessing of Niagara Falls in 1896 near the turn of the century. The canal was so successful that the first enlargement was started in 1836 and was completed in 1862, increasing the canal size to 70’ wide and 7 feet deep.
In 1890 a second enlargement was made, with a third and final enlargement made between 1905 and 1918. The Buffalo and Washington Railways, which later became part of the Pennsylvania Lines, arrived in 1871 to furnish service to the area and later to Pittsburg. Other railroads followed and Buffalo became the second larges rail center in the country.