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The Great Gorge Route

The Great Gorge Route: Unraveling the Natural Beauty of Niagara Falls

The Great Gorge Route: Unraveling the Natural Beauty of Niagara Falls


The Great Gorge Route is an iconic railway that offered visitors an enchanting journey through the stunning natural wonders surrounding Niagara Falls. This historical article will delve into the detailed account of the history, construction, operation, and significance of the Great Gorge Route, exploring how it allowed people to experience the epic majesty of Niagara Falls like never before.

The Construction of the Great Gorge Route

The idea for the Great Gorge Route emerged in the late 19th century as people sought new ways to experience the grandeur of Niagara Falls. The project began in 1895 and was led by a group of visionaries, including philanthropist William Pryor Letchworth, who recognized the need for a railway system that would intimately connect visitors with the natural wonders of the Niagara region.

Construction commenced under the direction of the Niagara Falls and Lewiston Railroad Company. The challenging terrain required immense effort, as engineers had to navigate the rugged and rocky landscapes surrounding the Niagara River. The construction crew faced numerous obstacles, including steep gradients, sharp curves, and the need to build bridges to traverse the river and its tributaries.

Despite the challenges, the railway line was completed in 1897, stretching approximately 11 miles and offering visitors a unique opportunity to explore the mesmerizing beauty of the Great Gorge.

Operation and Features of the Great Gorge Route

The Great Gorge Route operated from 1897 to 1935, becoming renowned for its exceptional service and breathtaking views. The journey began at a station near Niagara Falls, allowing visitors easy access to the majestic wonder. The trains were equipped with observation cars featuring large windows, ensuring panoramic views of the Niagara River and the surrounding landscape.

The route followed the meandering Niagara River, winding its way through the Great Gorge. The railway provided unrivaled access to a plethora of breathtaking natural attractions, including the Whirlpool Rapids, Devil’s Hole, and the mesmerizing Three Sisters Islands.

One particular highlight was the famous “Devil’s Whirlpool,” a turbulent section of the river that showcased nature’s raw power. The Great Gorge Route offered visitors the opportunity to witness the fierce whirlpool and marvel at the forces of nature in action.

With regular stops along the route, visitors had the chance to disembark and explore the picturesque viewpoints and hiking trails that dotted the area. These excursions provided an up-close and personal experience of the natural beauty surrounding Niagara Falls, allowing people to immerse themselves in the awe-inspiring scenery.

Significance and Impact

The Great Gorge Route had a significant impact on tourism in the Niagara region. With its unparalleled views and access to stunning locations, the railway heightened the allure of visiting Niagara Falls, attracting tourists from all over the world.

Not only did the Great Gorge Route provide an unparalleled experience of the natural wonders surrounding Niagara Falls, but it also played a vital role in conservation efforts. The railway promoted an appreciation for the environment and fostered public support for the preservation of the Niagara Gorge, leading to its designation as a state park in 1924.

Furthermore, the Great Gorge Route stimulated the local economy by generating employment opportunities and encouraging the development of tourist-oriented businesses in the surrounding communities. Hotels, restaurants, and shops flourished as visitors flocked to experience this unique and awe-inspiring railway journey.


The Great Gorge Route offered visitors an unforgettable adventure through the sublime beauty of Niagara Falls and its surrounding natural wonders. From its construction in 1897 to its closure in 1935, this iconic railway played a pivotal role in shaping the perception of Niagara Falls as a must-visit global destination.

Though the Great Gorge Route may no longer be operational, its legacy lives on. The railway enabled millions of people to witness the mesmerizing power of the falls, fostering a deep appreciation for the natural world and serving as a catalyst for the conservation and preservation efforts of this remarkable region.

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