Soak up some Maid of the Mist history

Maid of the Mist boat tours aren’t nearly as old as Niagara Falls—but we’ve been delighting visitors with up-close views and thrilling adventures since 1846.


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1846: The Maiden Voyage

Before this date, rowboats ferried passengers across the Niagara River below the Falls. By 1846, however, entrepreneurs decided a bigger craft could profit by transporting people, luggage, mail and cargo. So, the first Maid of the Mist steamboat, large enough to carry a stagecoach and horses, was christened. In 1848, construction of a suspension bridge curtailed business and the Maid of the Mist was re-branded as a sightseeing adventure that still operates to this day.


The First Maid of the Mist, a side-wheel steamboat ferry with twin smokestacks, commands the mighty Niagara.

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The Second Maid of the Mist, a single-stack paddle wheel steamer, 72 feet long with a 17-foot beam.


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1861: Captain Robinson’s Legendary Ride.

Facing financial troubles and fearing the outbreak of the Civil War in the U.S., then Maid of the Mist owner W.O. Buchanon sold the boat at auction. A Montreal firm agreed to buy it if the boat was delivered to Lake Ontario. After the most seasoned sailors refused to navigate the Whirlpool and Devil’s Hole Rapids, three miles of the world’s wildest waters, the Maid’s own captain, Joel B. Robinson, took the boat on a wild ride. The boat and crew were practically swallowed alive before arriving safely at Queenston.

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1885: The Return of the Maid of the Mist.

From 1861–1885, rowboats again ferried people across the river until R.F. Carter and Frank LeBlond invested in a new Maid of the Mist boat. It was launched on June 13, 1885, and ventured closer to the Horseshoe Falls than any boat ever had. Her trips were so successful, a sister ship was built in 1892.

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Maid of the Mist expansion continues and becomes a worldwide tourist attraction.



Third Maid of the Mist enters the fleet. It’s a white oak vessel, 70 feet long, with a captain’s cabin enclosed in glass.

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Niagara Falls, New York, is incorporated as a city.

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Annie Edson Taylor becomes the first person to survive a barrel ride over the Falls. President McKinley is assassinated at Buffalo’s Pan American Exposition.


Theodore Roosevelt, 26th president of the United States, felt the mist on his face.

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1938: Ice Jam Threatened Two Maid of the Mist Boats.

A massive ice jam below the Falls wrecked the Honeymoon Bridge and threatened to destroy the two Maid of the Mist boats as they lay in their winter berths. Although encased in ice up to their decks, they survived to carry thousands of tourists to a monumental experience that season.

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Jawaharial Nehru, prime minister of India, rides the Maid of the Mist.


Marilyn Monroe, while filming the movie Niagara, rode the Maid of the Mist.

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The first modern Maid of the Mist boat amazes millions of tourists. It’s all steel and 66 feet long with two 200-horsepower diesel engines.

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1955: Fire Destroys Two Boats.

On April 22, 1955, as the Maid of the Mist boats were being prepared for the season, a spark from a welder’s torch set both ablaze. Sadly, attempts to preserve the boats failed but all was not lost. A Chamber of Commerce supervisor salvaged some of the wood, carving out wooden nickels, imprinted them with the Maid impression and distributed them to tourists. Only 40 of the 38,000 collector’s items were redeemed. The owners were able to save the season by launching a 40-foot yacht they called The Little Maid.

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Maid of the Mist II powers against the rapids. It’s an all-steel twin to the Maid of the Mist I. Both carried 101 passengers.


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1960: Boy Plunges over Falls and Survives.

On July 9, Jim Honeycutt was cruising with niece and nephew, Deanne and Roger Woodward, when his small boat developed engine trouble in the rapids. As water swamped the boat, all three were pitched into the water. Deanne was swept close to the Terrapin Point shore and rescued by tourists. Honeycutt and Roger Woodward, however, plunged over the Horseshoe Falls at an estimated 75 miles per hour. Fate smiled on Roger. With only a life jacket to protect his fall, he survived and was spotted by Maid of the Mist’s Captain Keech. After two failed rescue attempts, Keech swung the boat in a circle, wrapped a life ring around the boy and brought him safely aboard.

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Soviet Premier Alexei N. Kosygin rode the Maid of the Mist.


Water flow is cut off to the American Falls to study erosion.

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James V. Glynn fulfills a lifelong dream by becoming president of the Maid of the Mist Corporation. He began his career by working on the dock at the age of 16 to pay for college.



Maid of the Mist III takes to the water, carrying 210 passengers. This boat is a 65-foot-long, 65-ton vessel powered by two 250-horsepower diesel engines.

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Maid of the Mist IV, a 300-passenger boat, is introduced. The new boat is 72 feet long, 24 feet wide, weighs 74 tons and is powered by two 250-horsepower diesel engines.


Maid of the Mist V gives passengers the thrill of their lives. It’s all steel, 72 feet long, weighs 74 tons and powered by two 335-horsepower diesel engines to safely carry 300 passengers.

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Soviet official Mikhail Gorbachev, later president, and Soviet Ambassador to Canada Nikolai Yakovlev rode the Maid of the Mist.


The Duke and Duchess of York, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, enjoy a ride aboard the Maid of the Mist.



Maid of the Mist offers passengers the thrill of Maid of the Mist VI. The most powerful vessel to date, this all-steel boat features an upper deck. It is 80 feet long, weighs 145 tons and is powered by twin 350 hp diesel engines.

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Princess Diana of Wales, and Princes William and Harry, took a royal ride aboard the Maid of the Mist.


Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, and his wife Rosalynn, sail aboard the Maid of the Mist.

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Maid of the Mist VII. A twin of Maid of the Mist VI, this boat carries up to 462 passengers.


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2012: New York State Governor Cuomo Saves the Maid.

On December 4th, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo visited Niagara Falls, New York to make a major announcement. An agreement between Cuomo’s administration and the Maid of the Mist calls for the company to pay for $32 million in upgrades near the site of the former Schoellkopf power plant to turn the area into a winter storage dock for its two-boat American fleet. “We value the Maid of the Mist, we wanted to keep the Maid of the Mist here, we had a parcel we believed we could be better utilizing for the state and for tourism, and we put the two together,” Cuomo said.

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2019: Maid announces the construction of new emissions-free vessels

On May 3, Maid of the Mist announced it would be constructing two new emission-free vessels—the first of their kind in the United States. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said, “The Maid of the Mist has offered tours of the world-famous Niagara Falls waterfalls and of the Niagara River Gorge for more than a century and is a signature tourism attraction of Western New York. The two new zero-emissions boats will continue that proud tradition while continuing our efforts to make New York State a premier environmentally friendly tourism destination.”


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2020: Two all-new, fully electric boats launch

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