Lake Ontario Washing Away Old Fort Niagara Seawall and Tourism

YOUNGSTOWN, N.Y. -- The damage done to Old Fort Niagara may be out of sight to visitors, but it's not out of the minds of those who have worked for decades to protect it. 

"We are still worried about it," Bob Emerson, the executive director of Old Fort Niagara said. “We did have a structural engineer look at it." 

As predicted, the high waters of Lake Ontario washed away parts of the 1840s seawall.

"There is no immediate danger but, and it's a big but, we have to get it fixed before winter," Emerson said.

Emerson explains if any ice gets into the exposed wall and starts to expand the damage will only grow.

"There's a block missing here or there, but the ones I sent you there are maybe eight or 10 blocks missing and those are the ones that most concern is," he said. 

It's a race again time even though it's sunny and in the 80s. Emerson says there's no promises plans will be approved in a timely fashion. 

"Normally NYS has seen to capital needs here and we've been working with state engineers to address the problem and work on a solution," Emerson said. 

What Emerson and other parks directors didn't see was the water washing away tourism as well. According to a parks spokesperson, compared to April 1 through May 31 of last year, this year tourism at Fort Niagara State Park as a whole is down 29 percent. 

In a statement, Angela Berti with the state parks department wrote:

“At this early point in the season, we are seeing a bit of a decline in attendance to date because of a wet spring and construction of the new bathhouse that has caused the pool to be closed. Additionally, the water levels on Lake Ontario are causing boaters to think twice before launching. However, we are monitoring the water level situation daily and doing our best to keep the launches there open. We encourage visitors to come to Fort Niagara and take advantage of the beautiful setting and of course visit the Old Fort.”

"We have to remember last year was a record year for a lot of attractions in this area," Emerson said. 

Emerson says the French Castle still remains a popular site to see and they're working fast to make sure it stays standing for generations to come.

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