The Maid of the Mist is a boat tour of Niagara Falls, starting and ending on the American side, crossing briefly into Ontario during a portion of the trip. (The actual boats used are also named Maid of the Mist, followed by a different Roman numeral in each case.)
The original Maid of the Mist was built at a landing near Niagara Falls on the American side of the border. The boat was christened in 1846 as a border-crossing ferry; its first trip was on September 18, 1846. The two-stage barge-like steamer was designed primarily as a link for a proposed ferry service between New York City and Toronto. It was a 72-foot-long side-wheeler with an 18-foot beam which was powered by steam produced from a wood- and coal-fired boiler. It could carry up to 100 passengers.
The ferry did well until 1848, when the opening of a suspension bridge between the United States and Canada cut into the ferry traffic. It was then that the owners decided to make the journey a sightseeing trip, plotting a journey closer to the Falls.
The present day Maid of the Mist Corporation was formed in 1884 by Captain R. F. Carter and Frank LaBlond, who invested in a new Maid that would launch in 1885. Captain Carter and Mr. LaBlond hired Alfred H. White from Port Robinson, Ontario to build the new ship. A letter in the archives of the Buffalo Historical Society from Mr. LaBlond to Alfred White says that they are well pleased with the vessel and asks Alfred to add a wale onto the boat.
Russel Brothers of Owen Sound, Ont. made two all steel Maids for the Niagara Falls gorge, in 1955 and 1956. The first one is now based in Parry Sound, Ont. and runs dinner cruises and day excursions. The second Maid was sold in 1983 to the United Pentecostal Church of Ontario and destined for missionary service in the Amazon. Maid of the Mist II took part in the 9 July 1960, rescue of Roger Woodward, a seven-year-old boy who became the first person to survive a plunge over the Horseshoe Falls with nothing but a life jacket. Maid of the Mist II served as a Maid of the Mist until 1983. Subsequently she was relocated to the Amazon River, where she served as a missionary ship for some years.
Access to the river-level attraction on the Canadian side was provided by the Maid of the Mist Incline Railway, a funicular railway, between 1894 and 1990, to travel between street level and the boat dock. As this service proved increasingly inadequate in transporting the growing passenger base of the 1990s, four high-speed elevators replaced the railway in 1991. On the American side, the dock is reached by four elevators enclosed in the observation tower.
The service is run by Maid of the Mist Corp. of Niagara Falls, New York. Maid of the Mist has been owned by the Glynn family since 1971.
James V. Glynn is chairman and chief executive officer of Maid of the Mist Corp. Glynn joined Maid of the Mist in 1950 as a ticket seller, and purchased the company in 1971. During his tenure, Maid of the Mist expanded operations, achieving ten-fold growth.
A partial history of Maid of the Mist is featured in the IMAX film Niagara: Miracles, Myths and Magic.
It’s Niagara Falls. It’s one of the most beautiful natural wonders in the world. Who wouldn’t want to walk across it?