From the ancient to the present, Lewiston on the Niagara has seen plenty of significant action throughout the years. Artifacts from 7000 years ago trace indigenous dwellers to the area, and Iroquoian speaking people have left a mark for over 600 years. The Tuscarora, who would be welcomed in the 1800's as the sixth sister in the Iroquois confederacy, had a village here before the Revolutionary War, Yehęwakwáʼthaʼ.
Known simply as the Landing since the earliest whites came--French fur traders from Canada in 1600's--the village was the first European settlement in Western NY in 1720. Lewiston's current name comes from Morgan Lewis, a 19th century governor of New York.
Lewiston shines when it comes to War of 1812 history. It was the launching point of the first major battle of the war, the Battle of Queenston Heights, detailed in my previous post. New York State Militia crossed the Niagara River into Canada October 13, 1812. The Americans lost that battle, and in December 1813, the British burned Lewiston to the ground in retaliation for that initial strike. Civilians were attacked and killed, the city was in chaos, while the American militia skedaddled.
All would have been lost if not for the astonishing heroism of the Tuscaroras. They came from their nearby village as soon as they saw the smoke rising from the Landing, rushing to the aid of the citizens fleeing through slush and muck from the marauding British. Though surrounded 30 to one, the Tuscarora stood alone. One detail came around the British at the escarpment blowing horns, making the illusion of superior numbers, while another detail attacked with war whoops from the heights. This created a delaying action that allowed scores of women and children to escape with their lives.
A memorial to the bravery of the Tuscarora tribe will be unveiled in Lewiston on December 19 of this year, marking the 200th anniversary of these "Tuscarora Heroes." For more info on the beautiful commemorative sculpture planned, see: http://lee389.wix.com/tuscaroraheroes.
Lewiston also boasts the first recorded railway in the United States. "The Cradles" as they were called, were built in 1764 by a British Army engineer named John Montresor, and were a series of wooden rails on which loads of goods were raised by rope over the Niagara Escarpment.
|Freedom Crossing monument|
In the 1800's slaves escaped to freedom into Canada along routes bringing them through Lewiston as they departed the US.
The Frontier House was the furthest outpost of civilization west of the Hudson, offering distinguished travelers fine accommodation since 1824. Many famous people have stayed at the Frontier House, including President McKinley, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Henry Clay, and Daniel Webster.
|Frontier House facing the Niagara|