Crane lowered into Niagara Gorge paves way for the Maid of the Mist’s future
By Antoinette DelBel/YNN-TV (Buffalo)
NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. – One of the three pieces of a German-made crane was lowered into the Niagara Gorge Monday morning.
The entire crane, weighing nearly 160 tons, will be used to lift the Maid of the Mist boats out of the Niagara River for storage at its new docking site – the former Schoellkopf Power Station – during the winter months.
With the tourist season wrapping up next month, a construction crew took its time navigating the part down 200 feet.
“The job is for sure, quite difficult,” said Liebherr-Werk service technician Stefan Amann. “The main job is to lower the parts down. We never did something (like this) before.”
Ciminelli Construction’s project manager Vinny Jowdy agreed.
“Everything from lowering a 2 x 4 to lowering a 65-ton piece of crane, it’s just the logistics; that’s probably the trickiest part,” he said.
The tour boat company’s dry dock and maintenance facility is part of a $32 million project to keep operations running on the American side of the Falls.
This comes after Hornblower Cruises won a bid to operate boat tours on the Canadian side next season, leaving the Maid without a place to store its boats.
The move, however, didn’t come without some major roadblocks.
“This is an important milestone in the project,” said the Maid of the Mist spokesperson Kevin Keenan.
Last month a Niagara County judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by Hornblower over a new contract between the Maid and the state.
And earlier this summer, an injunction filed by preservationists to stop work on the former Schoellkopf site was also dismissed.
It’s a big victory that could have meant the end of the family-run company had the court ruled otherwise.
“This has been an iconic attraction since 1846, and its future is secured through the work of Gov. Cuomo and New York State,” said Keenan.
It’ll take about one week to put the crane together, and Keenan said the dry dock and maintenance facility will be completed by November.