Whirlpool Rapids. NIAGARA FALLS. 29. Route. 253
(where a steep path ascends to the National Park) and return by
any later trip of the steamer the same day.
The river and its banks below the bridge offer many points of
great interest. The Lower Rapids and the Whirlpool (see below)
are both seen to greatest advantage from the Canadian side.
From the N. end of the bridge we follow the road (electric
railway, see p. 248) descending along the edge of the cliff to (2 M.)
the *Cantilever Bridge (PL B, 1) of the Michigan Central Railroad,
one of the first examples of this method of construction, completed
in 1883. It is entirely of steel and has a total length of 900 ft. The
two cantilever arms, 395 ft. and 375 ft. long, are connected in the
centre by a fixed span of 125 ft. It is 245 ft. above the water.
About 100 yds. below this bridge is the *Lower Steel Arch Bridge
of the Grand Trunk Railway, erected in 1897 on the site of the
former Railway Suspension Bridge, with a roadway below the rail¬
road track (toll 10 c, incl. return). The length of the bridge, in¬
cluding approaches, is 1100 ft., half of which is absorbed by the
aTch itself. The highest point is 226 ft. above the water. It com¬
mands a fine view of the Whirlpool Rapids, but the Falls are partly
hidden by the Cantilever Bridge.
A little below the Lower Steel Arch Bridge is the entrance to the
so-called Rapids Park, where we descend an Inclined Railway (50 c.)
to vie w the *Whirlpool Rapids, which in their own way are as wonder¬
ful as the Falls. The immense volume of water is here forced to
flow through so narrow a channel (300 ft.) that it actually assumes
a convex form, the centre of the river being 20 ft. higher than the
edges. Three other elevators (each 60 c.) descend to the Rapids on
the American side.
The impression of force is overwhelming. 'The surges did not look
like the gigantic ripples on a river's course, as they were, but like a
procession of ocean billows; they rose far aloft in vast bulks of clear
green, and broke heavily into foam at the crest' (Howells).
It was in an effort to swim down these Rapids that Capt. Webb lost
his life in 1883, but since then several persons have passed through them
safely in barrels. The old 'Maid of the Mist' was successfully piloted
through the Rapids to Lewiston in 1861. Blondin and others have crossed
the gorge above the Rapids on ropes of hemp or wire.
Near the wooden staircase ascending to the Devil's Hole is a tablet
commemorating an Indian massacre in 1763.
We may now cross the railway-bridge and return along the
American side (tramway, see p. 248).
About 1 M. below the Railway Bridge is the * Whirlpool, of
which we get a good distant view from the top of the cliff. The
river here bends suddenly at right angles to its former course, and
the Whirlpool is occasioned by the full force of the current im¬
pinging against the cliffs of the left bank.
'Here, within the compass of a mile, those inland seas of the North,
Superior, Huron, Michigan, Erie, and the multitudes of smaller lakes, all
pour their floods, where they swirl in dreadful vortices, with resistless
undercurrents boiling beneath the surface of that mighty eddy. Abruptly